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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
Not being delivered
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 secretaryMr John Riddell
Tel: (0131 6)50 9975
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