HIS32310 Revolutionary Russia, 1905-1921

Academic Year 2019/2020

In under twenty years, Russia experienced three revolutions, world war, civil war, the collapse of the three-hundred-year-old Romanov dynasty, and the rise of the Soviet state. This course examines the causes and consequences of these tumultuous years from 1905 to 1921, exploring the rich political, social, intellectual and cultural world of revolutionary Russia. It looks at the challenges of reform and modernisation in late imperial Russia, the rise of revolutionary politics, the impact of the First World War and the immediate events of 1917 leading to the establishment of Bolshevik power, before assessing the Red victory in the civil war, revolutionary and utopian cultures, and the consolidation of the early Soviet state. In doing so, the course focuses on the centres of power in Moscow and Petersburg and their key actors, but also ventures into provinces and countryside to assess the ways in which political and social change unfolded elsewhere. We will also engage with critical debates in the historiography of the period on the ‘inevitable’ fall of the Romanov dynasty, continuities between the late imperial and early Soviet systems, and the relationship between state, society and the individual before and after the 1917 revolution.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the events, actors and processes in Russia’s revolutionary history.
2. Critically engage with a variety of primary and secondary material.
3. Evaluate conflicting interpretations of the events of 1917, their causes and consequences.
4. Write scholarly essays to the standard of a level 3 student of history.
5. Assess and analyse key themes, readings and debates in class discussions.

Indicative Module Content:

The module will cover the following areas:
Week 1: Russia in 1900
Week 2: 1905
Week 3: The constitutional experiment, 1906-1914
Week 4: The changing face of society to 1914
Week 5: Russia and the First World War
Week 6: The February revolution and the transition to Dual Power
Week 7: March to October 1917 in city and countryside
[Reading weeks]
Week 8: The Bolshevik rise to power
Week 9: The civil war years
Week 10: Revolutionary dreams: Cultures of power
Week 11: Party, state and society to 1921

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines large-group and small-group teaching, via a weekly one-hour lecture and four fortnightly one-hour seminars. The weekly lecture provides an overview of the key events, actors and historiographical debates, while the seminars examine four critical chronological points in greater detail. These seminars focus on small-group active/task-based learning using secondary literature and primary sources as the basis for class discussion. Autonomous learning is encouraged through required preparatory reading for each seminar, and two summative written assessments. Key research, writing and citation skills are developed through a combination of the 1000-word source analysis exercise and the 2000-word end of semester essay. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
HIS20980 - The Russian Revolution

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 2,000 word essay Week 12 n/a Graded No


Assignment: 1,000 word primary source document analysis Week 7 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the mid-term primary source analysis assessment is provided in writing on the returned hard copy. Feedback on the end of semester 2000-word essay assignment is given by appointment in one-to-one meetings.

Name Role
Dr Christopher Prior Subject Extern Examiner
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.  
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Spring: All Weeks Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Fri 10:00 - 10:50
Seminar Offering 2 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 3 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Seminar Offering 4 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Seminar Offering 5 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 6 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 7 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 8 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Seminar Offering 9 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Seminar Offering 10 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Fri 10:00 - 10:50
Seminar Offering 11 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30 Fri 10:00 - 10:50
Seminar Offering 12 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30 Fri 11:00 - 11:50
Seminar Offering 13 Week(s) - 23, 25, 29, 31 Fri 11:00 - 11:50