After Stalin: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union - HI6060

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 60 (30) DR PC Boobbyer




Please note that this module is not available to students studying on a short-credit basis (i.e., Erasmus and term/year abroad students).



This module addresses the politics, ideology and culture of the USSR in the post-war era. It starts with an exploration of late Stalinism, before covering Khrushchev's reforms, Brezhnev’s neo-Stalinism and Gorbachev's perestroika. Along with these themes, time will be devoted to: the intelligentsia; labour camps and the release of detainees in the 1950s; Soviet science; religion and spirituality; emerging nationalism; the Human Rights Movement; ‘village’ prose; the Soviet economy; foreign policy and policy in the ‘near abroad’; the collapse of the USSR; and Yeltsin’s reformism and the new Russian state. The approach is interdisciplinary, and this will be reflected in the wide range of primary sources used; and throughout the module students will be introduced to the relevant historiography.


This module appears in:


Please note that this module is only available to single-honours and joint-honours students on the BA History and BA War Studies/Military History programmes. It is not available as a Wild module, nor is it available to short-credit students.

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by coursework and exam on a 40% coursework and 60% exam ratio.

The coursework component will be assessed as follows:

1) 2 x 3,000 word essays, each worth 20% of the coursework mark.
2) 1 x 3,000 word assignment, consisting of two commentaries on gobbets (extracts from primary sources), worth 20% of the coursework mark.
3) 1 x 15 minute in-class presentation, worth 20% of the coursework mark.
4) 1 x in-class test, worth 20% of the coursework mark.

The exam component will be assessed through in 2 x two–hour exams – which will make up 60% (30% each) of the final mark for the module.

Indicative reading

• P. Boobbyer. (2005) Conscience, Dissent and Reform in Soviet Russia. Routledge: Oxon
• V. Bukovsky. (1979) To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter. New York: Viking Press
• T. Colton. (2008) Yeltsin: A Life. New York: Basic Books
• R. Daniels (ed.). (1994) Soviet Communism from Reform to Collapse. Boston: Cengage
• J. Dunlop. (1995) The Rise of Russia and the Fall of the Soviet Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press
• R. English. (2000) Russia and the Idea of the West. New York: Columbia University Press
• M. Gorbachev. (1987) Perestroika. New York: Harper and Row
• M. Heller, and A. Nekrich. (1986) Utopia in Power. Mandaluyong, Philippines: Summit Books
• J. Keep. (2002) Last of the Empires. Oxford: OUP
• M. Malia. (1995) The Soviet Tragedy. New York: Free Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

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