Module Identifier IP34620  
Module Title HISTORY OF THE SOVIET UNION 1917-1953  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Dr Erik Landis  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Dan Hucker  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment An assessed essay of 2500 words40%


The aim of this module is to introduce students to the political, economic and cultural developments in Russia and the Soviet Union from the 1917 revolution to the death of Stalin in 1953.


The module will begin by introducing students to the basic structures of late Imperial Russian society and examine the pressures for change that contributed to the revolution of 1917. The early history of the Soviet state will be analysed with strong reference to the political and social legacies of the World War and civil war. Students will be introduced to the basic structures of the soviet state that took shape in the first decade of its history. The challenge of defining a new ?Soviet? culture, defined in opposition to Western cultural values, will be addressed. The rise of Stalin and the period of ?revolution from above? will be analyzed, evaluating the cultural changes that this entailed, as well as the social and economic costs of forced collectivization and industrialization. Students will be introduced to the essential elements of the ?Stalinist system?, with particular reference to the role of political terror and the structure of the multinational empire of the USSR in the 1930s. The central event of the Second World War will be analyzed with reference to the social dislocation and economic breakdown caused by the conflict, as well as with reference to the complicated yet defining role the war assumed in the late Stalinist period.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Suny, Ronald G. The Soviet Experiment
Fitzpatrick, Sheila Stalinism: New Directions
Seigelbaum, Lewis Soviet State and Society Between Revolutions, 1918-1929
Shalamov, Varlam Kolyma Tales
von Geldern, James & Stites, Richard (eds) Mass Culture in Soviet Russia


This module is at CQFW Level 6