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Academic Year 2023/2024

Revolutionary Russia, 1905-1921 (HIS32310)

Arts & Humanities
3 (Degree)
Module Coordinator:
Assoc Professor Jennifer Keating
Mode of Delivery:
On Campus
Internship Module:
How will I be graded?
Letter grades

Curricular information is subject to change.

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 and cultural world of revolutionary Russia. It looks at the challenges of reform and modernisation in late imperial period, 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, utopian culture and the consolidation of the early Soviet state. In doing so, the course focuses on the centres of power in Moscow and Petersburg, 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 historiographical debates 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 1917. Our discussions are supported by five in-depth thematic seminars which use a set of primary sources to dig deeper into individuals’ experiences of, and responses to, the arc of revolution from 1905-1921.

About this Module

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:
Russia in 1900
Constitutional 'democracy', terrorism & the radical underground
Peasants, workers, hooligans & futurists
Russia & the First World War
The February revolution and the emergence of Dual Power
March to October 1917 in city &countryside
The Bolshevik ascendancy
The civil war years
Revolutionary dreams and cultures of power
Consolidation: 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 five fortnightly one-hour seminars. The weekly lecture provides an overview of the key events, actors and historiographical debates, while the seminars examine five critical themes that span the period. 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 2000/2500-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 In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Students are graded on their contribution to seminars throughout the trimester Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


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


Essay: 2000-2500 word essay Week 12 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components

Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring 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 on the submitted copy via brightspace, and can be discussed further in seminars and office hours. Feedback on the end of semester 2000-word essay assignment is returned via brightspace.