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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The End of the Soviet Era, 1953-1991 (HIST10365)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the history of the Soviet Union in the period from 1953 until its demise in 1991. The course focuses on domestic and foreign policies of the Soviet leadership in the designated period and discusses the process of systemic transformation of the Soviet Union in the context of Cold War.
Course description After Stalin's death in 1953, the new Soviet leadership began modernisation, or de-Stalinisation, of the Soviet system. In 1964, the leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev who orchestrated the process of modernisation was ousted from power and the very process was slowed down and in some areas put to a halt. In 1985, a new leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev made a second attempt at modernising the Soviet system, yet as a result of his reforms the Soviet Union collapsed. Did the Soviet Union collapse under the weight of its structural deficiencies, its ideological misconceptions or as a result of the Cold War? How much influence did Soviet leaders have on the Soviet system and Soviet society? The aim of the course is to examine the policy differences between the Soviet leaders and evaluate internal and external factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The topics covered by this course include the nature and controversies of Khrushchev¿s de-Stalinisation (briefly); reasons for economic slowdown and stagnation under Brezhnev and the attempt at reforms by Andropov; continuity and discontinuity in Soviet foreign policy and Soviet contribution to the failure of detente; and the difficulties that Gorbachev faced during Perestroika. This course provides a distinctive opportunity for students to explore the continuity of systemic changes in the Soviet Union and the role of Soviet political leaders in shaping domestic and foreign policies of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This course is particularly focused on the Brezhnev and Gorbachev leadership.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503767).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting Students should usually have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge of key political, economic, social, cultural and ethnic developments in the Soviet Union in the period from 1953 until 1991;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
1. Barrass, Gordon S., The great Cold War: a journey through the hall of mirrors, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2009
2. Carrère d'Encausse, Hélène, The end of the Soviet Empire: the triumph of the nations, New York: BasicBooks, 1993
3. Conyngham, William J., Industrial Management in the Soviet Union: The Role of the C.P.S.U. in Industrial Decision-Making, 1917-1970, Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1973
4. Goldgeier, James M., Leadership style and Soviet foreign policy: Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994
5. Hanson, P., The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Economy. An Economic History of the USSR from 1945, Pearson Education, 2003
6. Haslam, Jonathan, Russia's Cold War: from the October Revolution to the fall of the wall, New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University Press, 2011
7. Hewett, Edward A., Winston, Victor H., Milestones in glasnost and perestroika, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1991, vol. 1 and 2
8. Kagarlitsky, Boris, The thinking reed: intellectuals and the Soviet state from 1917 to the present, London: Verso, 1988
9. Marples, D., The Collapse of the Soviet Union 1985 ¿ 1991, Harlow, 2004
10. Parker, John W., Kremlin in transition, London: Unwin Hyman, 1991, vol. 1 and 2
11. Sakwa, Richard, The rise and fall of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991, London; New York: Routledge, 1999
12. Strayer, Robert W., Why did the Soviet Union collapse? Understanding historical change, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop further their capacity to pursue independent lines of research; work in groups; present their individual conclusions both in writing and orally.
Course organiserDr Nataliya Kibita
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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