• Class Number 2055
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Kirill Nourzhanov
    • Dr Kirill Nourzhanov
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course provides an introduction to the politics of Russia. It traces the evolution of Russian politics by offering a wide-range discussion of main events, figures and scholarly interpretations of Russia's past and present. While the initial focus is on the rise and fall of communist ideology and institutions, the course examines in detail the ongoing development of political structures in post-communist Russia and the forces, both domestic and international, that shape the life of Russians today.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

1. Feel familiar with Russia as a geographic and cultural entity, and major phases in its historical development

2. Reflect on, and discuss the key concepts, themes, and schools of thought pertaining to politics and international relations of Russia, with a special emphasis on the notions of democracy, totalitarianism, imperialism, and post-Communist transition

3. Analyse historical and current developments in Russia, using these intellectual tools

4. Locate and collate materials on a topic relevant to Russian studies, and present your findings in a coherent manner on paper and orally.

Required Resources

There is no prescribed text for this course. 

The following books may be recommended as solid background reading:

  • Tsygankov, A. The Strong State in Russia. Development and Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Shiraev, E. Russian Government and Politics. New York: PalgraveMacmillan, 2010.
  • Studin, I. (ed) Russia: Strategy, Policy and Administration. London: PalgraveMacmillan, 2018.

In addition to the impressive corpus of scholarly works on Russia, located primarily in the Chifley Library, students are encouraged to make use of general and specialised periodical publications available at ANU libraries:


The Economist, Current History, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Democracy, Comparative Politics, Russian Politics and Law, Russian History, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, Slavic Review, Post-Soviet Geography and Economics, the Moscow News.


The National Interest, Foreign Affairs, International Affairs (Moscow), Central Asian Survey, Orbis.

Most of the titles above are now available in electronic form through ANU Library databases.

Students are also encouraged to use the Internet resources, e.g.:

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • detailed and structured written comments on the major written essay 
  • verbal comments to individuals and small teams in tutorials 
  • verbal and written comments to individuals upon request on issues pertinent to essay research and writing, and exam preparation 

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Other referencing requirements:

Students are expected to observe appropriate citation conventions when citing electronically-accessed sources, e.g. The Columbia Guide to Online Style: http://faculty.ccp.edu/dept/resourceguide/CGuideCOS.html  

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 1. Introduction to the course: An Overview 2. Pre-revolutionary Russia: Political and Socio-economic conditions No tutorials. Please enrol in tutorial groups on Wattle. Acquaint yourself with the course’s structure and resources, e.g. research materials for the essay.
2 3. Karl Marx, his theory of revolution, and its development in Russia 4. Lenin: ideas and actions Russia: A historical survey of land, people and politics.
3 5. The Revolutions of 1917 6. The emergence of the Leninist political system, the rule of the Communist Party and the creation of the Soviet Union ‘We shall base our future calculations on a capitalist Russia … I do not see how the results of the industrial revolution that is taking place before our eyes in Russia can be in any way different from what has happened or is happening in England, Germany, America.’ (Friedrich Engels, 1892) Discuss critically the legacy of classical Marxism, particularly as applied to Russia.
4 7. Stalin's ‘Revolution from Above’: collectivisation, industrialisation and terror 8. Stalinism and its interpreters In 1917, ‘the Bolsheviks came to power not because they were superior manipulators or cynical opportunists, but because their policies … placed them at the head of a genuinely popular movement.’ Discuss pre-1917 Russian political, economic and social conditions, the Bolshevik revolution and the creation of the Soviet State.
5 9. The structure of the post-Stalinist political system 10. ‘Mature Socialism’: the USSR as a welfare state ‘The Stalin revolution seemed like the second, and potentially more lasting, dawn of a just, pure, merry and beautiful Russia, where he who was nothing would become everything.’ Provide a critical evaluation of Stalinism using different interpretive frameworks.
6 11. Soviet foreign policy: between ideology and pragmatism 12. Gorbachev's Perestroika ‘After 50 years of revolution, civil war, industrialisation, war and hunger, the Soviet people were seemingly being offered the chance to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labours. This was both at the heart of Brezhnev’s style of government and the reason both for the decay of the Soviet system and also why today many look back at his time as some ‘golden era’. Discuss the emergence of the USSR as a world superpower and a welfare state under Khrushchev and Brezhnev.
7 13. The collapse of the USSR: systemic factors and 'bad fortune' 14. The political system of new Russia Major essay is due by 4pm on Thursday, April 4. ‘The USSR is weak in one dimension and strong in the other. The USSR is thus an incomplete Superpower, whose very weaknesses are sometimes mistaken for strengths, and a disruptive power that is incapable of global dominance.’ Discuss this critically, with an emphasis on the correlation between domestic imperatives and foreign policy objectives of the Soviet Union.
8 15. Building capitalism, Russian-style 16. Elites, parties and elections in post-Soviet Russia ‘The reforms Gorbachev adopted were not the result of a necessity imposed on the Soviet leadership by the threat of the regime's imminent collapse, nor was it due to pressures emerging from society ... The Soviet Union succumbed to ill-conceived reforms originating in the leadership, to poor governance and bad fortune.’ Discuss Gorbachev’s perestroika and the causes of the USSR’s demise.
9 17. Centre-periphery relations and problems of federalism 18. Societal and cultural change after communism ‘Like new wine in old wineskins, capitalism was implemented by the Kremlin in an environment that has demonstrated more continuity with the attitudes and limitations of the Soviet past than many people had hoped.’ Discuss Russia’s post-Soviet transition to a market economy and attendant cultural change.
10 19. ‘Restoring Russia’s greatness’: Vladimir Putin in power 20. Russia’s security dilemmas: the war in Chechnya, terrorism, and issues of domestic stability ‘The consolidation of liberal democratic institutions and liberal democratic values has been impeded by several factors that are the legacy of Russia's protracted and conflict-ridden transition from communist rule: superpresidentialism, an underdeveloped party system, a disengaged civil society, the lack of an independent judiciary, and declining popular support for democracy.’ Discuss the impact of Yeltsin’s presidency on Russia’s quest for democracy.
11 21. Russia’s foreign policy: between Atlanticism and Eurasianism 22. Understanding Moscow’s relations with the ‘Near’ and ‘Far’ abroad today ‘Russia is experiencing one of the most difficult periods in its centuries-long history. Let’s admit that for the first time in the last 200-300 years, it is facing a real danger of falling into the second, if not the third, echelon of states in the world. The nation will have to exert tremendous intellectual, physical and moral effort to avoid this fate.’ (V. Putin, 1999). Discuss domestic policy of President Vladimir Putin’s successive administrations.
12 23. ‘National’ and ‘universal’ values in Russian politics today 24. Russia at the crossroads: the elections of 2018 and beyond “While Russia desires extensive cooperation with the West on the basis of respect for its interests and values, Western nations have their own global interests and are frequently uncomfortable with Russia’s strong state system. As a result, the agenda of Russia–West relations tends to be narrower than desired by either side.” Discuss Russia’s place in the contemporary world and its current tensions with the West.

Tutorial Registration

Students should register for tutorials online via Wattle. Registration will open on 11 February 2019.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
All Assessment Tasks 100 % 22/06/2019 28/06/2019 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Lecture attendance is not compulsory. All lectures will be recorded.

It is expected that students attend all tutorials and participate in tutorial-based activities which are based on the brick reading for a particular week. There will be no alternatives to on-campus in-class participation.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 100 %
Due Date: 22/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

All Assessment Tasks

Please refer to course guide on the POLS2069 Wattle site for details of all assessment tasks.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Extensions and late submission are not possible for essays in lieu of the exam in this course.

If you need an extension, you must request it via Wattle before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request Special Consideration http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration

Once essays on a particular topic have been returned to students, no further essays on that topic will be accepted. No second (optional) essays in lieu of the final examination will be accepted after the date of the examination. Students who are unable to attend the final examination or submit the final essay for medical reasons must follow the guidelines for special examination outlined here: https://policies.anu.edu.au/ppl/download/ANUP_000994

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Marked essays will be available for collection from the CAIS office, Rm 2.09, on 6 May 2019. Further information will be provided by the lecturer in Week 8.  

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There are no provisions for resubmission of essays in this course.  

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov
6125 8374

Research Interests

History, politics and international relations of Russia and Eurasia  

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov

Thursday 09:00 11:00
Thursday 09:00 11:00
Dr Kirill Nourzhanov

Research Interests

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov

Thursday 09:00 11:00
Thursday 09:00 11:00

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