Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours. (8 x 1 hour)
Lecture 14 Hours. (14 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   1 x 2 hour exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module students should be able to:

- Discuss the changing role which the Communist Party played in politics
- Outline successive attempts to reform the Soviet political system
- Assess Gorbachev's contribution to Soviet politics
- Describe the major characteristics of Post-Soviet Russian politics
- Compare Russia's political system with its Soviet predecessor

Brief description

This module provides an historical overview of the changing nature of politics in the Soviet Union and Russia, after the death of Stalin in 1953.


The aim of this module is to examine the development of politics in the Soviet Union and Russia after the death of Stalin in 1953.


The module begins with the death of Stalin and the dilemma faced by his successors of reducing the regime's dependence on the use of coercion and terror as instruments of politics without losing control of events and provoking a backlash which would sweep them from power. Khrushchev embarked on a campaign of selective revelations about the excesses of the Stalin period and the rehabilitation of some of its victims ('de-Stalinisation'), but his policies were inconsistent and the frequent changes of course alienated powerful interest groups. The Brezhnev leadership placed strong emphasis on stability and brought an immediate end to de-Stalinisation, even in the limited and inconsistent form which it had taken during Khrushchev's years in power. When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power he sought to invigorate politics with his policies of perestroika and glasnost, but instead released long-suppressed political aspirations which spiraled out of control, leading to the end of the Communist Party's monopoly on power and the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Since the end of 1991 new political institutions and processes have been created, but Russia's political leaders continue to struggle with the perennial questions of how much control the state and the government can and should exercise over the people. While both Yeltsin and Putin offered distinctive styles of political leadership, it is still far from clear whether Russia is pursuing a course that will result in the development of a democratic state, or indeed whether the majority of Russian citizens desire such an outcome.

Transferable skills

Students taking this module will have the opportunity to develop and practice a wide range of transferable skills. In lectures students will develop listening and notetaking skills. In preparation for seminars students will develop their reading, notetaking and analytical skills. Seminar discussions will help students to develop their listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team work and problem solving. The essay which the students will write will encourage them to develop their independent research, writing and IT skills. The examination will test students' analytical and writing skills under time constraints.

10 ECTS credits

Reading List

Recommended Text
Archie Brown The Gorbachev Factor Primo search Hill, Ronald J. & Frank, Peter The Soviet Communist Party Primo search Martin McCauley The Soviet Union 1917-1991 Primo search Nove, Alec Stalinism and After (3rd Edition) Primo search Sakwa, Richard Russian Politics and Society Primo search Tompson, William Khrushchev: A Political Life Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6