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BASS Philosophy and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Russian Politics

Unit code POLI30071
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to key debates in Russian politics. It begins by analysing the fall of the Soviet system. Why did the Soviet Union collapse? It then goes on to consider more recent developments. Is Russia a powerful state that presents a major threat to the West or a weak one that tries to disguise its weakness with occasional acts of bravado? Who is Vladimir Putin and why has he become so powerful? Most people think of Russia today as an authoritarian state but what kind of authoritarianism does it represent? Does it herald a new type of 21st century dictatorship that, drawing on new technologies and state manipulation of the media, is able to steer public opinion? Some commentators argue that because of the loss of empire (i.e. the Soviet Union) in 1991, Russia’s leaders had a head start in dealing with the identity politics and culture wars that have become a prominent feature of Western democracies over the last decade. What can we in the West learn from the Russian case?


This course is ONLY OPEN to students from the following degree programmes: BSocSci, BA (Econ) Politics Specialists, PMH, Phil/Pol, Law with Politics, PPE, ESML & Russian.


The aim of this course is to introduce students to key debates in post-Soviet Russian politics. The course starts by analysing the fall of the Soviet system. It then goes on to look at the consolidation of a new post-Communist Russian state, at the distribution of wealth and power, and at the search for a new, post-Soviet Russian national identity. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have learned about the main political events in Russia since 1991; examined the problems of a society undergoing massive social and economic transformation; and become familiar with theoretical and historically informed analyses of the Russian political system.

Assessment methods

Assessed Essay 2,500 words (35%)

Logs and Class Participation (15%)

Exam (50%)


Feedback methods

This course will have two forms of formative feedback: detailed written comments on the assessed essay; and in preparation for the exam, summary comments on the log. There will also be summative feedback on the exam.

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Daniel Treisman, The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev (Free Press, 2012)

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Yoram Gorlizki Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course is ONLY OPEN to students from the following degree  programmes:

BSocSci, BA (Econ) Politics Specialists, PMH, Phil/Pol, Law with Politics, PPE, ESML & Russian.

Length of course: 12 weeks


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