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School of History

HST5386 – From the Tsars to the Bolsheviks: Russia 1801-1921

Module code: HST5386

Credits: 15
Semester: YEAR

Module Convenor: Dr Jon Smele

This module concerns itself with a question that continues to intrigue historians: How was it that the most powerful and most autocratic state in Europe and the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire, begat the world's first Communist state, the USSR, at the beginning of the twentieth century? Following an introduction to imperial Russian politics and society (the geographical setting, the nature of absolutism and the persistence of serfdom) and the rise of Russia as a multi-national empire, the course examines the challenges posed to the existing tsarist order through the rise of liberalism, socialism, populism and nationalism, as well as the enduring and particular problems of industrial and agricultural modernisation and development in Russia. Attention is paid also to Russia's role in the European state system, from the triumph over Napoleon of Alexander I to the disasters of Russia's campaigns of First World War overseen by Nicholas II ("Nicholas the Last"). The module concludes with a discussion of the origins and outcomes of the revolutions of 1917 and the subsequent civil wars and an analysis of historical interpretations of the Bolshevik victory.

Assessment: Essay 1 (2,000 words) [25%], Essay 2 (2,000 words) [25%] and Exam [50%]
Level: 5