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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLAV1120 What is Russia? An Introduction to Russian Studies

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Sarah Hudspith

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

What is Russia? How do Russia's geography, history, language, culture and governance shape its identity? How can we move beyond the Western stereotypes of Churchill's 'riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' or Cold War aggressor to a more sophisticated understanding of this important player in today's globalised world? Covering a wide range of topics relating to contemporary Russian society as well as the historical development of Russia and Russian, this cross-disciplinary module aims to address these questions and is appropriate for students with a general interest in Russia. You will approach the topic through diverse sources and media, including historical documents, literature, visual arts and current affairs, developing skills for a variety of disciplines. No knowledge of Russian language is required, as this module is taught in English.


This module aims to:
- offer a cross-disciplinary introduction to one of the most important global powers and an understanding of the complex factors affecting its identity and self-perception;
- familiarise students with selected aspects of Russian culture, history, society, literature, and linguistics;
- prepare students for study abroad in a Russian-speaking country or for the study of more specialised modules relating to various aspects of Russian Studies;
- develop students' skills to analyse and discuss a wide range of primary and secondary sources in a variety of disciplines;
- develop students' ability to craft their own arguments and use evidence to support them, and to make informed conclusions.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should be able to:
- demonstrate an understanding of key issues in Russian Studies
- identify and analyse arguments in scholarly literature and develop their own position in response
- analyse primary sources and use them critically as evidence to support own their arguments

On completion of the module students should be well placed to follow more specialised modules on aspects of Russian history, literature, culture, and linguistics offered at levels two and three.

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to:
- demonstrate an awareness of how historical developments continue to shape the present in Russia;
- analyse a variety of source materials;
- present their arguments clearly and coherently in speech and writing;
- demonstrate the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- demonstrate basic research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance.


Students will be introduced to selected topics in Russian culture, history, society, literature, and linguistics in weekly lectures. The topics will then be developed further in weekly seminars, in which students will engage in group debates and discussions.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

160 hours of private study and independent learning to supplement in-class tuition. Students will be expected to read primary and secondary texts, go over class work and carry out preparatory work as directed by the module leader.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1 x 750 word essay = not formerly assessed (due in week 10 of semester 1).
Student progress will also be monitored through seminar participation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,500 words80.00
Presentation10 minute oral presentation20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:46:41


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