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

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 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.

Preliminary 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)

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.