Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Communist and Post-Communist Politics
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 6 x 1 hour


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3500 assessed essay  60%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2500 word report  40%

Brief description

The module examines the communist and post-communist experience of Central and East European states in a broadly chronological manner by (i) looking at the principal features of communist rule; (ii) evaluating East European transitions and (iii) discussing the post-communist future of the new states of a wider Europe.


Lecture Topics:
Part I: The Politics of Communism
1. Introduction to the module (enrolment and arrangements)
2. What was/is communism about?
3. To communism through a `mature socialism? in the USSR: how far to go?
4. `National communism? in Eastern Europe: why variations?
Part II: The Politics of Transition
5. Collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union: where did Gorbachev go wrong?
6. How did transitions take place in CEECs? Transitions from below. The Polish, Romanian and Czechoslovak cases.
7. How did transitions take place in CEECs? Transitions from above. The Hungarian, Bulgarian and Soviet cases.
8. Stillborn transitions. Why has China maintained communist rule?
9. How different/similar were transitions in CEECs to the rest of the world? Are transitions over?
Part III: The Politics of Post-Communism
10. Post-communism: democracy and other alternatives
11. Consequences of transition: economic reform and the market economy
12. Consequences of transition: social change and the role of civil society
13. Consequences of transition: nationalism and ethnic conflict
14. Consequences of transition: the EU Enlargement
15. Was the transition from communist to post-communist rule a defeat for socialism or a defeat for Stalinism? Is communism defeated?
16. Presentations of Comparative Group Projects

Seminars will examine some of the key issues on transition and democratisation in CEE, as well as developments in the region today. Seminars will involve a combination of students? presentations, group discussions and debates.

1. Why were reforms necessary in socialist states? Discuss with reference to your country/region of interest.
2. Why did socialism collapse in communist Europe? Discuss with reference to your country/region of interest.
3. Have political scientists adequately conceptualised the transition from communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe? Does the comparative literature on `democratisation? help to illuminate that transition?
4. Consequences of transition: economic developments and social inequalities.
5. The CEECs and the rest of Europe: the threat of nationalism and the enlargement of the European Union.
6. Is communism defeated?

Reading List

Essential Reading
Holmes, Leslie (1997) Post-Communism: An Introduction Polity Press Primo search Swain, Geoffrey. (2003.) Eastern Europe since 1945 /Geoffrey Swain and Nigel Swain. Primo search White, Stephen, Butt, Judy, & Lewis, L Paul (2003) Developments in Central and East European Politics 3 Palgrave Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6