Twentieth Century Russian Politics

First year module

Lecturer: Dr David White

The turbulent history of Russia in the twentieth century is the history of world-changing events – from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the creation of the Soviet state to the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. From being one of two great superpowers to fifteen separate states, struggling for identity and survival – the rise and fall of the Soviet Union provides a unique case study touching on many aspects of global political affairs in the twentieth century. The course covers both semesters. The first part deals with the Communists’ rise to power, the development of the Soviet state and the establishment of the Soviet Union as a world superpower. The second part covers the government and ideology of the Soviet Union and examines the factors leading to its collapse.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this linked module the student will be able to:

  • Identify the political processes which led to the rise of the Soviet regime, its development in power, and its eventual collapse.
  • Apply ideological concepts to the specifics of Russia and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century.
  • Discuss the options for reform in the Soviet system and begin to apply these to authoritarian systems in general.
  • Demonstrate in essay writing the ability to independently develop knowledge of the topics covered by the linked modules.


  • Term One: 1 essay x 2,000 word assessed work (50%)
  • Term Three: 2 hour examination (50%)