Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module RUSS1171: Understanding Russia: Arts and Ideologies

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Russian)

RUSS1171: Understanding Russia: Arts and Ideologies

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 17 Location Durham


  • Grade A or above at A-level or equivalent in a foreign European language, or an equivalent qualification.


  • Russian Language 1A (RUSS 1161) OR Russian Language 1B (RUSS 1042)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To impart a detailed knowledge of some key concepts and developments in Russian culture
  • To think about issues surrounding national identity
  • To compare Russian culture with other European cultures
  • To develop analytic skills in relation to sources in different media


  • This module, which is taught and assessed in English, is open to students taking Russian Language 1A or 1B. It is designed to impart knowledge of a selection of key concepts and themes in Russian culture by: a) studying critically some of the major processes of nation-construction (e.g. the development of the Russian folkloric tradition and the formation of the Russian literary canon); b) problematizing the cultural specificity of seemingly universal concepts such as ‘gender’ or ‘the everyday’; and c) showcasing the emergence of a ‘Russian modernity’ in the wider transnational perspective (e.g. through the study of the early 20th-century Russian avant-garde and the early Soviet sci-fi tradition). The course introduces students to the analysis of a broad range of texts and genres, from literary works to visual materials and film, from major classics to popular culture. The course enables students to work with diverse cultural materials and helps them acquire essential skills of cultural analysis and interpretation, written and spoken expression, as well as independent research. This module has been designed to reflect a commitment to diversity in its resources and delivery, and will create opportunities for students to engage in critical analysis of different perspectives relevant to the study area.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will acquire a thorough knowledge of key cultural products and cultural phenomena in different media and of the debates and critical approaches that these have generated.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will acquire the ability to analyse texts in a variety of media and to assess their significance for understanding Russian culture and society.
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop the ability to perform close analysis on a range of texts in different media and to relate that analysis to broader concerns about society and national identity.
  • Students will also develop the ability to present a cogent and structured argument and to conduct independent research into a given topic.

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

  • Introductory lectures for each unit are designed to set the historical and conceptual framework for that unit and will introduce relevant methods of cultural and textual analysis.
  • Seminars provide a forum for students to present the results of independent study and to engage in close analysis of individual works and discuss their import

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation, reading and assessment 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2000 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 2000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment consists of student seminar presentations (individual or in pairs) based on the independent study of the relevant materials. Presentations will not be formally marked but oral feedback will be provided.

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