The Rise, Fall and Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe

Modular value: 20 credits
Duration: Term 1
Teaching: Two-hour weekly seminar.

Lecturers: Arfon Rees

The module will follow a number of themes in twentieth century Russian and East European History. The nature and collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires will be compared, followed by an examination of independent East European states between the wars and the period of communist rule in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Themes to be covered include:

  • Nationalism
  • Modernisation
  • Empires, revolutionary movements and revolutions
  • The communist system
  • The planned economy
  • Political revisionism and economic reform; national communis
  • Internal relations in the Communist Bloc
  • The collapse of communism

Themed discussions will focus on comparisons between the countries and empires of Russia and Eastern Europe.

At the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of key issues in the political, economic and social development of Russia and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century;
  • Provide a critical and balanced assessment of the major historical themes, and an understanding of different historiographical approaches;
  • Participate actively in seminar discussions, and lead off discussions through prepared talks.


  • One 2,500-word historiographic essay (50%)
  • One 2,500-word themed essay (50%)