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IR3104   The International Relations of Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe

Academic year(s): 2023-2024

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF level 9

Semester: 1

Planned timetable: 10am - 12 noon Thu

With speed and surprise, the East European revolutions of 1989 and the collapse of the USSR in 1991 changed the European and international security order. This module examines the causes of these changes and their consequences for both the region and the international system. It considers the origins of the revolutions and their implications for economic, political, ethno-national and security developments since 1989. It further considers the larger security transformation, including the accession of many of the former communist states to NATO and the EU, and the implications of that process for those that are now member-states, and for those that continue to so aspire and for those for which membership is either not desired or indeed perhaps even see the enlargement process as zero-sum and threatening. It also assesses Russian manoeuvres in the Post-Soviet space that have had a direct bearing on the European security system, including the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 and the crisis in Ukraine. In addition to increasing knowledge and understanding of this complex and important region, this module seeks to employ concepts and theories previously studied in International Relations to analyse these developments. Such fundamental issues of IR as nationalism and ethnic conflict, systemic change, international cooperation, and just war doctrine have immediate practical applications to examining the dangers and opportunities presented by post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. At the same time, the revolutions of 1989, the collapse of communist rule, the implosion of the USSR and the resulting transformation of the international system have forced re-evaluations of major tenets of political science and IR. The intellectual aim, therefore, is to combine the tools of IR and the area study of Central and Eastern Europe to provide enhanced understanding of each. Assessments of crucial world events and prognoses for on-going dilemmas will also be developed.

Relationship to other modules

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

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 1x 2h lecture (x11 weeks), 1x 1h tutorial (x10 weeks), 2 consultation hours with Coordinator (x12 weeks), and 2h examination feedback in week 1 of following semester.

Scheduled learning hours: 32

Guided independent study hours: 260

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 F J Fawn
Module teaching staff: Prof Rick Fawn

Intended learning outcomes

  • Gain an enhanced familiarity with or understanding of the peoples, political geography, population distributions and changing borders of this region
  • Gain an enhanced familiarity with or understanding of the conceptual geography used for the region by peoples inside and outside the region.
  • Gain an enhanced familiarity with or understanding of the contending explanations for how communist rule worked and failed.
  • Gain an enhanced familiarity with and comparative understanding of the nature, form of the specific events of the revolutions of 1989 and the extent to which they conform to and differ from previous revolutions.
  • Gain an enhanced familiarity with or understanding of the changes to the region after communism, including the political, economic and security transformations.
  • Gain an enhanced familiarity with or understanding of the perceived and possible place(s) for post-communist Russia in Europe and specific developments within national foreign policies.