The rise and fall of Communism in Central Europe 1945-89: a socio-economic perspective CEES4003

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This is an Honours course taught by Central and East European Studies. It can be taken as part of the MA Honours Social Science of Arts Programmes. The course seeks to explain the economic and social development of Central and Eastern Europe during the communist period in the latter half of the 20th century. It covers Hungary, Poland, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia  and Romania, with some reference to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia


One two-hour class per week

This course may not be running this year. For further information please check the CEES Moodle page or contact the subject directly.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory entry requirements:

Entry to CEES Honours normally requires a grade point average of 12 (Grade C) over CEES 2A and CEES 2B as a first attempt.

Excluded Courses





■ One 4000 word project (80%)

■ One individual presentation (20%)

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course seeks to explain the economic and social development of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and the German Democratic Republic. This will deal with the development of the countries throughout the Soviet period following the death of Stalin to the revolutions of 1989 and the re-establishment of independence. There is considerable emphasis on comparative analysis and there are several distinct themes in the course (see below). Though there is a nominal chronological outline this will be secondary to the development of these main themes and comparative analysis.


Specific aims include:

■ to examine the development of economic and social changes in (central ) eastern Europe in the period 1953-1989;

■ to focus on different aspects of development including the role of the state; nation building; the agrarian question; the impact of international economic developments;

■ to analyse the period 1953-89 in terms of the functioning of the command economy, including the development of the CMEA; reform communism; market socialism; eastern Europe and the world economy; the crisis and fall of the communist system.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course the student will be able to:

■ explain the wide differences between the countries studied by focusing on a comparative analysis of the development of central and east European societies under communism;

■ explain the component elements of reform communism and understand the reasons for its failure

■ comprehend the nature of intra-bloc trading;

■ identify the causes and nature of the end of the communist regimes

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.