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Unit information: Understanding Russia: Critical Approaches in 2021/22

Unit name Understanding Russia: Critical Approaches
Unit code RUSS10039
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Knight
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to the conceptual frameworks through which we understand Russia. Teaching will be divided into four thematic blocks, which will change according to staff involvement, but will typically include such themes as power, space, time, language, heroism etc. These themes will allow students to explore the continuities and changes in Russia’s cultural and social history. The topic of ‘time’, for example, will introduce students to the periodisation of Russian history, encourage them to reflect on shifting attitudes to time at various points and in various cultural spheres (e.g. the apocalyptic visions of the late 19th century, or the utopian dreams of the Soviet period), and question whether anything really changes in Russian history.

The unit will use a variety of materials, including literature, film, historical documents and media texts, and draw on secondary literature to explore and critique common theoretical and critical approaches to Russia.

The unit will also develop students’ skills in analysis and composition through a series of summative assessments.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will be able to demonstrate:

1. knowledge and understanding to build a sound conceptual framework to understand the history, thought and culture of Russia.

2. skills to assess and challenge the narrative frameworks that shape how Russia has been understood in a variety of contexts.

3. an ability to engage with, interpret and contrast texts, film, music and images from different periods and genres.

4. skills of critical thinking, analysis and debate.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

500 word mini-essay (10%), testing ILOs 1-4

1,000 word annotated bibliography (20%), testing ILOs 1-4

1,000 word literary analysis (20%), testing ILOs 1-4

1,500 word essay (50%), testing ILOs 1-.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. RUSS10039).