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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: The Politics of Post-Soviet Russia (PGSP11149)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAfter a period of collapse and chaos in the 1990s, Contemporary Russia looms large in global politics. However, Russia's domestic functioning and motivations, which underpin its wider global aspirations, are poorly understood. Much media and cultural coverage, particularly in Europe and the US, continues to see Russia through hackneyed prisms, focusing a 'return to the USSR' or a new Tsardom.

This course focusses explicitly on the politics and government of the contemporary Russian Federation. Format varies each year but follows the following general outline. It first analyses the nature of a Soviet 'legacy'. It then looks in detail at Russian state and institution-building. Foci generally include party systems, civil society, nationalism and social movements, comparative post-Soviet government and the international relations of the post-Soviet space.

Course description The course examines the primary actors, institutions, ideas and developments in contemporary Russia (also known as the Russian Federation).

The course has three principal themes:
- The historical aspect: examining points of continuity and change in contemporary Russia, be they cultural, ideational or institutional;
- The comparative aspect: examining points of similarity and difference (e.g. compared with other post-Soviet states; with contemporary forms of democracy and authoritarianism);
- The empirical aspect; examining and analysing the key features of the contemporary Russian polity and clarifying their role in the light of common misconceptions (e.g. unpicking the narrative of the 'super-presidency').

The exact content will change from year-to-year, but will be held together thematically by three main components:
- Context: the course starts by focusing on the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union on contemporary Russia (e.g. political-cultural and institutional legacy; the (mis)development of democracy in the post-Soviet space);
- Content: the course looks in detail at Russian state and institution-building. Foci generally include party systems, civil society, nationalism and social movements, and comparative post-Soviet government;
- Consequences: the course concludes by looking at the impact of Russian internal politics externally (e.g. Russian foreign policies towards the EU and US, relations with the post-Soviet space);

Student learning experience: The course will be delivered using a lecture plus seminar format. The lecture will provide a detailed introduction to facts, background, and debates concerning the week's topic. Seminars will give room for student presentations, debates, group and individual work. Each week, one team of students will take the lead in inspiring and leading a seminar discussion. The aim of this task is to practice debate leadership and teamwork skills while stimulating productive and critical discussion among peers.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1) Tutorial participation (20%): Seminar performance will comprise: seminar attendance and participation; 5 reading summaries per student over the semester, 1 group presentation per student per semester. These will be explained fully to the students in week 1 and monitored by the course organiser throughout.

2) A 3500 word essay (80%). Students pick essay topics from set of questions in course handbook or may (exceptionally) choose a separate question with approval of course convenor.

Feedback Tutorial participation: course organiser will provide written feedback on seminar group presentations, normally within one week of delivery. Seminar presentations will consist of: a handout (max 2 pages) and a ppt presentation (or any other format easily accessible to all course participants). The following components of the presentation will be assessed: handout, ppt presentation, presentation delivery style and seminar discussion leadership. Each student will receive a (non-binding) mid-term seminar mark and indication of their seminar participation strengths and weaknesses.

Provision of written feedback on the essay. Students will be encouraged to consult the course organiser via Guidance and Feedback hours for guidance on essay topics. Essay topics will be designed not to overlap with seminar presentation topics but reading summaries may be used as preparation for exam questions.

No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the most salient issues influencing Russia¿s domestic and foreign policy
  2. Analyse, evaluate and critique alternative analytical and conceptual approaches to Russian politics.
  3. Evaluate the principal competing explanations for the ¿success¿ or ¿failure¿ of Russia¿s domestic and foreign policy
  4. Communicate through empirically grounded and theoretically informed written work, discussions and presentations, their understanding of key elements of Russia¿s domestic and foreign policy
Reading List
- Belton, Catherine (2020) Putin¿s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Took on the West (William Collins)
- Laruelle, Marlene and Radvanyi, Jean (2019) Understanding Russia: The Challenges of Transformation (Rowman and Littlefield)
- Robinson, Neil (2018) Contemporary Russian Politics (Polity)
- Sakwa, Richard et al., (2019) Developments in Russian Politics 9 (Palgrave)
- Shiraev, Eric (2020) Russian Government and Politics (Red Globe Press)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will be encouraged to develop their critical analysis and problem-solving skills. They will practice building strong arguments, questioning and responding to the ideas of others. The course will provide students with the opportunity to practice negotiation skills, consensus building and solution finding in a team environment.

Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures 10 hours
Seminar/Tutorials 10 hours
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Luke March
Tel: (0131 6)50 4241
Course secretaryMrs Gillian MacDonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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