Russian Politics and Society CEES4094

  • 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

The course will explore fundamental aspects of contemporary Russian politics and society, with a special focus on civil society and human rights. Starting from the late perestroika period and the transition from the Soviet to the post-Soviet era, it will explore the distribution of power in the political system and the effects of the presidential executive on civil society and the judiciary. Other areas covered by the course will be: Russian (ethno-)federalism, inter-ethnic relations and identity; the Russian media and freedom of expression; Russia's place in the world and its relations with inter-governmental organisations.  


2 hours a week, 10 sessions per term

Requirements of Entry

Entry to honours

Excluded Courses





Essays: choice of 5 essay titles, with the option for students to develop their own titles in conjunction with the lecturer - 65% (word count of 3000)

Report/written assignment: briefing paper on a theme chosen by the students - 25%

Participation - 10%


Feedback will also be provided continuously during in-class discussion. Students will be able to make appointments to discuss their essays face-to-face prior to submission. Detailed feedback will be provided on the marksheets

Course Aims

Russia experienced a democratic impetus under perestroika and in the 1990s. However, Putin's leadership has been characterised by increasing centralisation of political power and marginalisation of civil society. The aim of the course is to unravel the dynamics underlying post-Soviet transformation, identifying how they have contributed to shaping the existing political system and society, and how Soviet legacies interact with post-Soviet realities. Such processes will be situated in the context of Russia's relations with international humanitarian and human rights organisations, through the analysis of the interplay of domestic and international perspectives and norms.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the contemporary nature of Russian politics and society;

■ assess the significance of the Soviet past in the development of contemporary Russian politics and society;

■ place Russia's realities within the context of the international human rights system;

■ applying social movement/civil society theory in the study of developments in contemporary Russian politics;

■ present knowledge acquired during the course in the form of coherent written and oral expression.

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.