Twentieth Century Russian Politics

First year module

Lecturer: Dr David White

This course provides useful background for second and third year courses in Russian and East European Studies.

The political ideas and problems of pre-Soviet Russia are explored. The central emphases of the first part of the module are the Communists’ rise to power in 1917, the development of the Soviet state and its political distinctives, and the establishment of the USSR’s superpower status. The second part of the module covers the government and ideology of the Soviet Union in its ‘settled state’ and identifies the reasons behind its collapse. The course concludes with a look at the main features of Russian politics in the 1990s.

Learning outcomes

Students are expected to:

  • Identify socio-political processes which led to the rise of the Soviet regime, its development in power, and its sudden demise; 
  • To place distinctives of Soviet government within their global context; 
  • To list the major factors behind the collapse of the Soviet system; 
  • To identify the constants in Russian politics throughout the twentieth century.


  • Two assessed essays of 2500 words (50%)
  • Three-hour written exam in summer (50%)