Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Russian)


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Russian Language 1A (RUSS1161) OR Russian Language 1B (RUSS1042)


  • Russian Language 2A (RUSS2191) OR Russian Language 2B (RUSS2012)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To supplement and enhance existing core Russian language teaching through the explanation of the historical development of the key features of Russian phonetics, derivational and inflectional morphology and vocabulary and to instil an understanding of the linguistic conditions and semantic rationale behind a number of common irregular features in Russian
  • To introduce students to some basic concepts and working methods in comparative, sociological and corpus linguistics, as well as discourse analysis
  • To complement current content teaching in Russian history and culture by providing a linguistic commentary on the development of the Russian nation


  • The module covers the period between the 10th and the 21st centuries, focusing on the history of the Russian sound system and grammar in the Michaelmas term, and concentrating on the lexical and stylistic changes brought about by the Enlightenment, the revolutions and the subsequent Soviet years during the Epiphany term.
  • The module presents the Russian language as an integral part of the Russian national legacy and identity, on the one hand, and as a member of the Indo-European language family, on the other. This approach helps to discern structural and conceptual similarities between Russian and English, thus bridging the gap between the two languages often perceived by students as rather distant.
  • Seminars are structured around practical language tasks relevant to lecture material which students will have to complete by applying a range of linguistic methods, such as etymological, corpus and discourse analysis, all of which are equally useful for the successful completion of this module and for studying language- and linguistics-related modules at a higher level.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A deeper understanding of Russian phonetic, word-formation and grammatical patterns
  • A general appreciation of the dynamics and the changes languages undergo throughout the history of their existence, particularly in relation to Russian
  • An awareness of the scope, the main concerns and methods of historical linguistics and some aspects of sociological linguistics
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will gain confidence in recognising and, in many cases predicting, the irregular phonetic and grammatical patterns which are commonly subject to rote memorization
  • Learn to identify stylistic, dialectal and diachronic features of Russian texts.
  • Learn to use online Russian corpora
Key Skills:
  • Improve oral, aural and written skills
  • Extend their IT skills
  • Enhance their ability for research and independent study

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

  • The module will be taught over the full year. Key information and theoretical concepts will be introduced in a weekly lecture; lecture material will be consolidated and analysed through exercises and group discussions in a fortnightly seminar.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essays / Commentaries Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Linguistic analysis of a text 750-1000 words 50% Yes
Commenatary 1500 words 50% Yes
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

The formative assessment will consist of brief fortnightly tests on key concepts and definitions covered in lectures, one piece of translation of a medieval Russian text with a commentary on stylistic, dialectal and historical features of the language (200-250 words translation + 250 words commentary ) and one piece of discourse analysis of a modern Russian text (500-750 words). The types of formative assignment used in this module will be represented in summative pieces that students will have to complete.

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