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Unit information: Introduction to Russian History and Culture in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Russian History and Culture
Unit code RUSS10033
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chitnis
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit provides a chronological introduction to Russian history and culture from pre-Petrine times to the early post-Soviet period. Co-taught across both teaching blocks, the unit focuses on ten major historical periods or cultural developments, which will vary slightly from year to year according to the tutors involved, but are likely to include Orthodoxy in mediaeval Russia, Peter the Great, Romanticism in Russia, the Revolutionary period, Socialist Realism, the post-Stalin That and perestroika. Whole-group lectures in odd weeks are followed by split-group seminars in even weeks, allowing for focused discussion of a particular text, set of images, film extract or other cultural 'artefact' relating to the period. The unit includes study skills and library workshops.


  • To give students a solid introductory understanding of historical and cultural developments in Russia from the medieval period to the present.
  • To develop students' analytical skills through the close study of texts, films, music and images.
  • To develop students' research and essay-writing skills through focused tasks and dedicated workshops.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Students will be equipped with a sound contextual framework for their subsequent, more narrowly focused study of Russian history, thought and culture.
  • Students will have advanced their abilities to engage with, interpret and contrast texts, films, music and images from different periods and genres.
  • Students will have a better understanding of what is expected in the preparation and composition of undergraduate written work.

Teaching details

One hour lecture (whole group) in odd weeks followed by one hour seminar (split group) in even weeks. There will be one whole-afternoon workshop devoted to essay writing, and a library skills workshop run by the subject librarian.

Assessment Details

Essay 1, 40%, Class test 1 10% , Essay 2, 40% Class test 2, 10%.

Reading and References

  • Hingley, Ronald, Russian Writers and Society, 1917-1978, London, New York, 1979.
  • Hosking, Geoffrey, Russia and the Russians: A History, Cambridge, MA, 2001.
  • Kochan, Lionel and Richard Abraham, The Making of Modern Russia, London, 1983.
  • Marsh, Rosalind, History and Literature in Contemporary Russia, London, 1995
  • Moser, Charles A., ed., The Cambridge History of Russian Literature, revised ed.,Cambridge, 1992.