UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


SEES0085 Russian Politics

UCL Credit Value: 30

ECTS Value: 15

Terms 1 and 2

Module Coordinator: Dr Peter Duncan
Weekly Contact Hours: 2.0 (for 15 weeks)
Prerequisites: None

Summative Assessment

2 Hour Examination (50%), 3000 word coursework (50%)

Formative Assessment

One voluntary essay, 1,500-2000 words. This will be given written and, if desired, oral feedback.

Module Outline

After briefly examining the reasons for the introduction of glasnost and perestroika and the relationship between these and the collapse of the USSR, the course proceeds to examine the political system of the Russian Federation as it developed from 1991 onwards under Presidents Boris El’tsin, Vladimir Putin, Dmitrii Medvedev and Putin again from 2012. The course examines the causes of the adoption of the Constitution in 1993, the subsequent working of the constitution in practice, the re-election of El’tsin in 1996, and the reasons for Putin’s rise to power. The process of the rise of authoritarianism under Putin is examined. The course considers why Medvedev was chosen to succeed Putin, how much difference he made and why Putin clamped down on social protest after his return to power. Particular issues covered include the roles of political parties, the ‘oligarchs’, and the security services; human rights and civil society; Russian identity, nationalism, federalism, regionalism and the Chechen wars.

This module seeks to:

1. assist the student to develop an academic understanding of the Russian political system, political life and decision-making, in the period from perestroika to the situation today.

2. prepare the student for careers in government, research, the media, business, non-governmental organizations and others where knowledge of Russia will be useful.

3. develop the skills of the student as an analyst, researcher, presenter, debater and writer, for both vocational and intellectual purposes.

Core Texts

  • Stephen White, Understanding Russian Politics, CUP 2011 paperback
  • Richard Sakwa, Putin Redux: Power and Contradiction in Contemporary Russia Routledge 2014 pbk. 

Please note: This outline is accurate at the time of publication. Minor amendments may be made prior to the start of the academic year.