Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)




Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Russian Language 2B (RUSS2032) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative. No technical knowledge of music is required. Students in Music may find this module of particular interest.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes; Russian Language (RUSS3031). Others: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative. Students in Music may find this module of particular interest.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module aims to familiarise final year students with the development of Russian cultural and national identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by examining composition and reception histories of selected operas by major Russian composers.


  • As one of the most public of art forms, Russian opera has traditionally been closely linked to questions of national identity.
  • This module will explore how 19th and 20th century Russian composers interpreted classics of literature and folklore to fit new historical and cultural concerns, often in a complex response to official ideologies promoted by the state.
  • The range of works studied may include Glinka's A Life for the Tsar, Borodin's Prince Igor, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel and Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
  • The focus will be on the political agendas that governed the composition and production of these operas, and on their artistic and theoretical context.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will gain:
  • a detailed familiarity with the masterpieces of Russian opera and their literary sources,
  • insight into the complex factors which have contributed to the creation of Russian national identity.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      • Lectures will provide information relating to historical and cultural context of the operas studied.
      • Seminar work will develop skills in textual analysis and the study of composition and performance history, and will involve discussion of particular works.
      • Coursework in the form of seminar presentations and an essay will enable students to demonstrate the skills acquired in seminars and develop their own ideas about the relationship between Russian opera and national identity.
      • A final examination will allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of particular operas and their composition and reception history, or of a group of operas by a single composer.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Total 200
      Lectures 22 Weekly 1 hour 22
      Seminars 22 Weekly 1 hour 22
      Preparation and Reading 156

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay 2000 words 100%
      Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Two-question written examination 2 hours 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      2 essays.

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University