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The University of Southampton

HIST1170 Putin and the Politics of Post-Soviet Russia

Module Overview

This module provides an overview of major political, social and economic developments in Russia since 1991, and how they have been informed by a sense of Russian history. After the fall of the Cold War, Russia has found that it is no longer a superpower, and it has struggled to find a world role. The domestic and economic settlement in the country has also seen major changes, and life has changed in remarkable and sometimes dramatic ways for millions of ordinary Russian people. The primary focus on the module is to help us to understand contemporary Russia: lectures and seminars will examine themes and events that can help us to recognize in what ways Russia has changed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But these debates will be placed in historical context: Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, and changing conceptions of national identity, can only be understood in the context of Russia’s history and the legacy of the turbulent twentieth century.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The ideology of modern Russia and how it has evolved since 1991
  • How different sorts of Russian people respond and have responded to Putin and Putinism
  • The actions and intentions of the Russian state
  • Some conception of what everyday life is like for people in Russia today
  • Changing conceptions of Russia and its world role from the Russian people
  • The historical roots of debates relating to, for instance, the demise of communism, Putin’s rise, Russian national identity and changing foreign policy objectives
  • How these developments link to Russia’s history
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work independently and unsupervised for extended periods of time on complex tasks
  • Display effective time management
  • Interact purposefully, productively and confidently with both your tutor and peers
  • Make valuable, critical and valued contributions to discussions and debates
  • Write speedily yet fluently for extended periods, clearly articulating your ideas
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Gather, assimilate, synthesise and interpret a range of primary and secondary material
  • Comment upon complex debates, citing relevant evidence in support
  • Demonstrate significant depth of knowledge and insight on contemporary Russia
  • Draw upon your acquired knowledge in debate, essays and under timed conditions
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identity and explain the key characteristics of Putin and Putinism and place these in historical context
  • Explain the relationship between the actions of Russia’s leaders moods and feelings in the country more widely
  • Historicize the major characteristics of the Russian political system
  • Understand the origins of major problems in Russian domestic life


Possible lecture structure (to be reflected by debates in seminars) 1. Soviet communism and its dissolution 2. Russia’s rulers and Russian history 3. Russian political parties 4. The economy and domestic life after communism 5. Russia’s foreign policy: an overview 6. Russian nationalism and national identity 7. Mass media in Russia 8. Crime, corruption and the law 9. Changing gender identities in Russia today 10. Russian history and contemporary memory 11. Russia’s place in the world today

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures, which may include some group work and/or participation, such as reading primary sources • Seminars including detailed reading and analysis of primary sources – including texts, images or objects Learning activities include: • In depth analysis of primary sources • Preparatory reading and individual study • Individual participation in seminars, group work and short presentations on seminar themes Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Completion of assessment task50
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Sophie Pinkham (2016). Black Square: Adventures in the Post-Soviet World. 

Sarah Oates (2006). Television, Democracy and Elections in Russia. 

Richard Sakwa (2008). Russian Politics and Society. 

Sean P. Roberts (2007). Putin’s United Russia Party. 

Mikhail Gorbachev (1996). Memoirs. 

Vladimir Putin (2000). First Person. 

Gregory Freeze (ed.) (2009). Russia: A History. 

Mike Bowker and Cameron Ross (eds.) (1999). Russia after the Cold War. 

Mikhail Tsypkin (ed.) (2008). Russia’s Security and the War on Terror. 

Marlene Laurelle (ed.) (2009). Russian Nationalism and the National Reassertion of Russia. 

Robert Service (2009). A History of Modern Russia. 

Martin McCauley (2001). Bandits, Gangsters and the Mafia: Russia, the Baltic States and the CIS since 1992. 

Richard Sakwa (2007). Putin: Russia’s Choice. 

Peter Pomarantsev (2015). Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise  (500 words) 20%
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Examination  (1 hours) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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