Russia's Path to Revolution, 1812-1917: Political Challenges and Competing Visions - HIST5110

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The purpose of this module is to give an overview of Russian history from the Napoleonic invasion of Russia to the collapse of tsarism in 1917. The reigns of all the tsars in this period will be examined, as will the regime's tendency to alternate between periods of reform and times of conservative reaction. Tsarism's failure to establish a functional state-society dialogue during the period 1812-1917 will be explored, and the corresponding emergence of liberal, nationalist and revolutionary visions for Russia's future. Topics covered will include the Decembrist revolt, the rise of the Russian intelligentsia, the 'Great Reforms' of the 1860s, the appeal of revolutionary populism and Marxism, industrialisation, and the growing radicalism of workers and peasants. The later part of the module will explore the 1905 revolution, the tenure of Stolypin as Prime Minister, the Russian origins of the First World War, and the collapse of tsarism in 1917. The impact of war (including the Crimean War and the Russo-Japanese War) on Russia in this period will be examined, as will problems connected to the multi-ethnic make-up of the Russian empire. Students will also be introduced to Russian literature of the period where it is relevant to national, political or social questions, as well as aspects of religion and spirituality. The module will ultimately require students to evaluate why Russian tsarism failed to adapt to the challenge of modernity, and paid the price.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 40
Private study hours: 260
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Assignment A: Essay 2,000 words (12%)
Assignment B: Essay 3,000 words (20%)
Presentation and Seminar Performance (8%)
Examination: 60%

Reassessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

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Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the Level 5 module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the evolving nature of tsarism in the period 1812-1917, as well as the rise of the revolutionary movement and the ideological debates of the period.
2 Demonstrate a critical knowledge of some of the historiographical debates surrounding the subject and be well positioned to judge between competing interpretations of this era.
3 Formulate their own opinions on a variety of historiographical approaches, develop their communication skills using a variety of methods, and present a clear historical argument supported with relevant evidence.
4 Critically engage with a range of secondary source materials including articles and monographs and have practiced selecting and deploying historical information.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the Level 5 module students will be able to:

1 Express complex ideas and arguments orally and in writing, which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
2 Demonstrate enhanced communication, presentational skills and information technology skills.
3 Work both independently – for example in preparing for seminars and research and information-gathering for essays – and within groups.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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