UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


SEES0091 Informal Practices in Post-Communist Societies

UCL Credit Value: 15

ECTS Value: 7.5

Term 2

Module Coordinator: Prof Alena Ledeneva
Weekly Contact Hours: 2.0 
Prerequisites: None

Summative Assessment

3000 word coursework (100%)

The course is assessed 100% by coursework. ONE essay of 3,000 words should be written in accordance with the requirements outlined in the MA Handbook and submitted by the agreed deadlines electronically through the Turnitin (see Moodle). The essays are double-marked and examined externally. The best essays will go online.

Formative Assessment

Each student is required to give presentation and each student receives feedback from course tutor.

Module Outline


The course aims at enabling students to:

· DISCOVER the nature of informality;

· IDENTIFY informal practices in post-communist societies and globally;

· REFLECT on the ways of their identification;

· ANALYSE political, legal, economic and social embeddedness of informal practices;

· COMPARE impact of informal practices in different regions of the world.


Students are expected to:

· LEARN about theoretical approaches and research methods for informality;

· IMPROVE skills of searching for and working with academic literature in the library and online;

· DEMONSTRATE ability to critically assess academic texts and to present arguments in a clear and structured form;

· DEVELOP an in-depth knowledge on the topic selected for the examination essay;

· ATTEMPT to create an encyclopaedia entry of publishable quality.

Teaching and Learning Methods

The course work is organised as a SERIES OF SEMINARS, each based on four presentations by students and a group discussion to follow. Presentations will focus on the reading list provided for each discussion and further search for materials on the Internet (via electronic databases) related to informal practices in post-communist societies, with comparative angle where possible. Access to the Global Informality Project data will be granted.

Cases of informal practices in Russia/ background reading

  • Ledeneva, A. (1998) Russia's Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking and Informal Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ledeneva, A. et al. (eds) (forthcoming) Global Encyclopaedia of Informality, Vol. 1-2, UCL Press. See www.in-formality.com and try to create an entry to the Global Informality Project.

Look out for the FRINGE Centre activities and join in!

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