Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)




Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2005/06 Module Cap None Location Durham


  • Russian Language 2B (RUSS2151) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.


  • 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.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • The Communist Experiment: the Soviet Union, 1917 - 1991 (HIST2791)


  • to familiarise students with the central themes of Russian history of the Soviet period and with the main problems of their historiography.
  • to study primarily the Soviet party elites from Stalin to Gorbachev and their governance of the USSR through documents, film, literary texts and various visual media.


  • the course will provide a 20th-century history alternative/complement to other final-year courses on offer. It is also designed in relation to the option on Russian literature of the Soviet period.
  • as the course involves the study of documents in Russian, it is designed for students with an intermediate knowledge of Russian.
  • the course provides an opportunity to study the Soviet period of Russian history from Lenin's death, Stalin's rise and the beginning of the command economy through to the fall of Gorbachev along with the collapse of the entire Soviet social, economic and political system. Its focus is on the Soviet elites under Stalin, Krushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev and their governance of the USSR through the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Aspects of the political, economic as well as the social and cultural history of Soviet Russia will be our main concern, but the development of the USSR's superpower status from the Second World War, its role in international relations, and the arms/space race in particular, will also be considered.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • gain an understanding of the narrative of Soviet Russian history, of the historiographical discourse involved and the interpretative challenges it poses.
  • become familiar with key aspects of political, economic, social and cultural history of the USSR as well as the development of its superpower status and the causes of its eventual collapse.
  • gain an understanding of the narrative of Soviet Russian history and the issues of its historiography and interpretation.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:
    • develop techniques of analysing documents, textual analysis and the expression of ideas in written form.

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

    • Fortnightly seminars will be used to read, examine and analyse texts and visual media relating to the historical topic of the week.
    • Seminars will also encourage continuing development of presentational skills.
    • Tutorials will be organised during the course to allow students to discuss any formative work, such as seminar presentations, document reports or essays.
    • Independent learning will be structured around the preparation for seminars and research for the summative essay.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lecture 1 weekly 1 hour 21
    Tutorial 1 each term ca 20 mins .66
    Seminar 1 fortnightly 1 hour 10
    Total contact hours 31.66
    Student preparation and reading time associated with the contact hours listed above, formative and summative coursework, general background reading, revision for written examinations, etc. 168.34
    SLAT Totals 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 40%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Summative essay 2,500 words 100%
    Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Written Examination 2 hours 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    One 1,500-word formative essay

    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