Module Identifier IP34720  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Jennifer G Mathers  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
  Lecture   14 Hours (14 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 2,500 words  40%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students should be able to:

- Discuss the changing role which the Communist Party played in politics
- Compare the Leninist and Stalinist political systems
- Assess the significance of Stalin''s influence on the development of politics in the Soviet Union
- Outline successive attempts to reform the Soviet political system
- Assess Gorbachev''s contribution to Soviet 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 Russia, from the October Revolution in 1917 to the popularly-elected governments of the post-Soviet period.


The aim of this module is to examine the major stages in the creation and development of the Soviet political system from October 1917 to the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and the emergence of a post-Soviet Russian political system.


This module begins with the revolutionary year of 1917 and examines the major debates about the development of the Soviet political system, such as the link between Leninism and Stalinism and different explanations of the purges of the 1930s. After Stalin's death his successors faced the dilemma 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. Khrushchev embarked on a campaign of selective revelations about the excesses of the Stalin period, but was overthrown when his policies alienated powerful interest groups. The Brezhnev leadership placed emphasis on stability and brought an immediate end to de-Stalinisation. When 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. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union new political institutions and processes have been created, but it is still unclear whether the course that Russia's leaders are pursuing will result in the development of a democratic state.

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 Lists

** Recommended Text
Martin McCauley The Soviet Union 1917-1991
Archie Brown Contemporary Russian Politics: A Reader


This module is at CQFW Level 6