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

Undergraduate Course: The English Discovery of Russia, 1553-1648 (HIST10484)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn 1553, the sole surviving ship of the English Merchant Adventures reached the shores of Russia, where the English were warmly welcomed by its current ruler, Ivan the Terrible. A trading partnership, and later a diplomatic relationship, swiftly followed, uniting the two kingdoms in amity, but likewise trapping them in a unilateral relationship. In this course, we will explore the first hundred years of the Anglo-Russian relationship.
Course description The course introduces students to early modern Russian history through the perspective of Anglo-Russian diplomatic and trading relations. Despite their shared European and Christian heritage, the two countries maintained vastly different socio-political and cultural structures, leading the English to nickname Russia a 'rude and barbarous kingdom'. It was, however, a place of extensive mercantile wealth and natural resources, as well as royal generosity. For the majority of the relationship, the English were permitted to trade tax-free and were seen as the favoured nation. There were even discussions about Ivan the Terrible marrying Elizabeth I.

The course explores the relationship between England (later Britain) and Russia from three perspectives: trade, diplomacy and exchange. We will consider questions such as why Russia was seen as an important trading partner and what were the chief imports/exports ferried by the English Muscovy Company. From a diplomatic perspective, we will consider the consequences of different political aims of the two countries and examine instances of diplomatic tension. How did one appease a ruler such as Ivan the Terrible? We will likewise examine the perceptions of Russia and its people as expressed through contemporary English travel and diplomatic writings, whilst also exploring the lives of English/Scotsmen who entered the Tsar's service. In the process, we will consider broader issues of maritime exploration, premodern diplomacy and the legacy of the first 100 years of Anglo-Russian relations. The course will likewise introduce you to the emergent field of 'new' diplomatic history.
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.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1,000 word critical commentary on a primary source (40%)
4,000 word essay (60%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical command of knowledge and understanding of the Anglo-Russian relationship in the period under study
  2. Develop a close familiarity with a range of primary sources, be able to analyse these and use them in historical interpretation and argument
  3. Analyse individual pieces of historical evidence very closely, set them in context, judge their qualities as evidence and explain their significance
  4. Analyse and comment on competing interpretations of early modern Russian and British history (including current historiographical positions)
  5. Engage critically with the themes of the course in a seminar setting, through exchange and conversation with fellow peers
Reading List
1. Rayne Allinson, A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

2. M.S. Anderson, Britain's Discovery of Russia, 1553-1815 (London: St Martin's Press, 1958).

3. Maria Salomon Arel, English Trade and Adventure to Russia in the Early Modern Era: The Muscovy Company, 1603-1649 (London: Lexington Books, 2019).

4. Paul Bushkovitch, A Concise history of Russia (Cambridge: CUP, 2012).

5. Paul Duke, G.P. Herd and J. Kotilaine, eds, Stuarts and Romanovs: The Rise and Fall of a Special Relationship (Dundee: DUP, 2009).

6. Maureen Perrie, ed., The Cambridge History of Russia. Volume 1: From early Rus' to 1689 (Cambridge: CUP, 2006).

7. Felicity Jane Stout, Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth: The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder (1546-1611) (Manchester: MUP, 2015).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills On completion of the course, students will gain the following graduate attributes:

the ability to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner;
the ability to deconstruct and analyse problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, resources and creativity;
the ability to put forward, debate and justify an opinion (written and oral).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tatyana Zhukova
Tel: (0131 6)50 4620
Course secretaryMr Pete Bingham
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