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PL50978: Russian politics in comparative perspective

[Page last updated: 05 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 2
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Essay Research Paper (CW 80%)
  • Essay Reaction Paper (CW 20%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: The unit examines the various ways that the study of Russian politics intersects with, and contributes to, current debates in Comparative Politics. It offers a variety of ways to understand the interaction of Soviet and Russian area studies with the development of Comparative Politics as a subfield, how Russia figures as a case study for different political phenomena, and how studying Russia raises methodological challenges of broader concern for political science. The second part of the course examines the contributions of Russian studies, including: democratization and electoral politics; regionalism and nationalism; ethnic conflict and counter-insurgency; economic reform and the resource curse; autocratization and autocracy promotion; informal politics and patronage; and gender and legitimacy.

Learning Outcomes: Students successful completing the unit will demonstrate:
* Knowledge of current theoretical debates in comparative politics and their application in regard to Russia
* Understanding of the value of Russian area studies for comparative politics
* Awareness of predominant methodologies used in the study of Russian politics, and the ability to assess their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Skills: Skills in critical analysis, ability to identify core theoretical debates and appropriateness of methodological strategies used to engage them, precision and effectiveness in written presentation of arguments and assessments of existing research, and leveraging of case studies for engaging theoretical frameworks in Comparative Politics through independent research are developed and assessed in this unit.

Content: 1. Introduction: Studying Russia in comparative perspective
2. Nationalist mobilization and collapse of the USSR
3. Democratization derailed and post-Soviet electoral politics
4. Postcommunism, protest, and (un)civil society
5. Informal politics and political culture
6. Regionalism, federalism, and nationalism
7. Market transition and the petrostate
8. Autocratization and diffusion-proofing
9. Ethnic conflict and counter-insurgency
10. Gender and regime legitimacy.

Programme availability:

PL50978 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
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