Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minute lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 50 minute seminars and individual tutorials of 10 minutes


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 2,500 word essays  40%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a firm grounding in the secondary source material and on-going debates surrounding the tsarist empire from 1796 to 1881.

Show an understanding of the value of an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of the past.

Reflect upon and critically analyse secondary and primary sources.

Collect, collate and analyse historical evidence and produce both oral and written arguments.

Work independently and collaboratively (not assessed).

Produce work in a professional manner and demonstrate skills appropriate to the study of history.

Brief description

In 1696, Peter the Great became the sole ruler of Russia, heralding a period of reform that transformed the country into a powerful European state. The search for power at home and abroad drove the agenda of Russia's rulers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The major reforms enacted by Peter, Catherine the Great (1762-96), and Alexander II (1855-81) saw them search to maintain Russia's status as a great power. Russia's rulers also struggled to maintain their own dominance as autocrats within a rapidly changing society. Consequently, equal attention will be paid to social change across this period, Russia's system of social `estates', and the major changes caused by the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Finally, Russia's rulers also wanted to transform Russia into a civilized, `western' power through changes in social and cultural behaviour, something that will also be traced in this module. These issues will be explored as far as possible through the use of a wide range of primary materials.


This module allows students to study Russian history during a period when Russia transformed from an isolated, `barbaric' country into one of Europe's most powerful states. It examines the modernizing reforms of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great in the 18th century that transformed the country internally, whilst enabling Russia to extend further into Europe and Asia. Finally, it analyses the pressures that forced further reform under Alexander I and Alexander II in the 19th century, and how failure contributed to the growth of the revolutionary movement that laid the foundation for Russia's modern history.


1. Russia on the eve of Peter the Great, 1796
2. From Tsar to Emperor: Imperial Expansion under Peter
3. Peter and the building of the Russian state
4. Peter as a Westernizer
5. The Era of Stagnation? The Tsarinas, 1725-61
6. Catherine the Great and the Quest for Internal Power
7. The Expansion of the Russian Empire
8. Catherine and Enlightened Absolutism
9. Paul, Alexander and the Search for Stability, 1796-1805
10. The Napoleonic Wars
11. Alexander I as Reformer
12. The Decembrist Revolt, 1825
13. Nicholas I: Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality
14. The Emergence of the Intelligentsia
15. Crimea and the Failure of the `Gendarme of Europe'
16. Alexander II and the Abolition of Serfdom, 1855-61
17. The Great Reforms
18. 1881 and the Russian Revolutionary Movement

1. Russia and Empire
2. Autocracy
3. The Nobility
4. Enlightened Absolutism
5. The Legacy of 1812
6. The Decembrists
7. The Church
8. The Emancipation of the Serfs
9. The Peasantry
10. Revolutionaries

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Read a wide range of both primary and secondary texts; improve listening skills during the lectures, and consequently develop skills in note taking; demonstrate and develop the ability to communicate ideas in two essays; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but not assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Show awareness of own learning styles, personal preferences and needs; devise and apply realistic learning and self management strategies; devise a personal action plan to include short and long-term goals and to develop personal awareness of how to improve on these.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to access information on CD-Roms and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Develop awareness of personal skills, beliefs and qualities in relation to course in progression; plan and prepare for future course/career.
Problem solving Identify problems and factors which might influence potential solutions; develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving; evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions.
Research skills Understand a range of research methods and plans and carry out research; produce academically appropriate pieces of written work.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Understand the concept of group dynamics; contribute to the setting of group goals; contribute effectively to the planning of group activities; play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars); exercise negotiation and persuasion skills; evaluate group activities and own contribution.


This module is at CQFW Level 6