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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Contemporary Russian Politics (PLIT10048)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAfter a period of collapse and chaos in the 1990s, Contemporary Russia looms large in global politics. However, Russia's domestic functioning and motivations, which underpin its wider global aspirations, are poorly understood. Much media and cultural coverage, particularly in Europe and the US, continues to see Russia through hackneyed prisms, focusing a 'return to the USSR' or a new Tsardom.

This course focusses explicitly on the politics and government of the contemporary Russian Federation. Format varies each year but follows the following general outline. It first analyses the nature of a Soviet 'legacy'. It then looks in detail at Russian state and institution-building. Foci generally include party systems, civil society, nationalism and social movements, comparative post-Soviet government and the international relations of the post-Soviet space.
Course description The course examines the primary actors, institutions, ideas and developments in contemporary Russia (also known as the Russian Federation).

The course has three principal themes:
- The historical aspect: examining points of continuity and change in contemporary Russia, be they cultural, ideational or institutional;
- The comparative aspect: examining points of similarity and difference (e.g. compared with other post-Soviet states; with contemporary forms of democracy and authoritarianism);
- The empirical aspect; examining and analysing the key features of the contemporary Russian polity and clarifying their role in the light of common misconceptions (e.g. unpicking the narrative of the 'super-presidency').

The exact content will change from year-to-year, but will be held together thematically by three main components:
- Context: the course starts by focusing on the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union on contemporary Russia (e.g. political-cultural and institutional legacy; the (mis)development of democracy in the post-Soviet space);
- Content: the course looks in detail at Russian state and institution-building. Foci generally include party systems, civil society, nationalism and social movements, and comparative post-Soviet government;
- Consequences: the course concludes by looking at the impact of Russian internal politics externally (e.g. Russian foreign policies towards the EU and US, relations with the post-Soviet space);

Student learning experience: The course will be delivered using a lecture plus tutorial format. The lecture will provide a detailed introduction to facts, background, and debates concerning the week's topic. Tutorials will give room for student presentations, debates, group and individual work. Each week, one team of students will take the lead in inspiring and leading a tutorial discussion. The aim of this task is to practice debate leadership and teamwork skills while stimulating productive and critical discussion among peers.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World (PLIT08012), but have taken a similar course, should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisites Visiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop conceptual knowledge of the key institutions and processes in Russian Politics.
  2. Analyse competing analytical and conceptual approaches to Russian Politics.
  3. Evaluate alternative explanations for particular political developments and events in Russia and the CIS.
  4. Develop a personal assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian political system.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements This course has a quota. Preference will be given to Politics and IR students.
Additional Class Delivery Information Plus 1 hr tutorial per week
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Luke March
Tel: (0131 6)50 4241
Course secretaryMs Alison Lazda
Tel: (0131 6)51 5572
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