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IR3101   Russian Politics and Foreign Policy after Communism

Academic year(s): 2023-2024

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF level 9

Semester: 2

Planned timetable: Mon 9am

This module explores the evolution of the Soviet and then Russian political system since 1985. After an introduction to the communist system, we briefly explore Gorbachev’s attempts to reform the USSR which eventually led to its demise. Following that our emphasis is on developments after 1991, though for reasons of time we shall concentrate on the Russian Federation. Here we shall explore some of the factors influencing transition in Russia, concentrating on the problematic nature of democratisation, the resolution of regional and ethnic differences, political economy and foreign policy under Yeltsin, Putin (and Medvedev). In particular we will focus on the nature of the ‘Putinist’ political system, on the realm of society and the ‘squeezing’ of civil society, foreign policy, and the increasingly difficult nature of its relations with the ‘Western’ world, with a special focus on the events leading up to, and the consequences of, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass IR2006

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 1 lecture and 1 tutorial.

Scheduled learning hours: 46

Guided independent study hours: 254

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 3-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 50%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 50%

Re-assessment: 3-hour Written Examination = 100%


Module coordinator: Professor J P Anderson
Module teaching staff: Prof J Anderson

Intended learning outcomes

  • acquire a good grasp of the key political developments in Russia since 1985
  • ask questions about why authoritarian regimes reform
  • become aware of the particular dilemmas facing would-be reformers, especially in multi-national states occupying substantial territories
  • isolate the foreign policy and security dilemmas facing a state emerging out of political collapse, unsure of its national identity and foreign policy priorities
  • assess the type of regime that has emerged in Russia over the last two decades
  • articulate this understanding in written and oral form, as demonstrated in the essays, examination, and class discussion