Russian Foreign Policy from Alexander I to Vladimir Putin

Tutor: Shane O'Rourke

Module type: MA Option

Module Code: HIS00074M

Credits: 20

This course will look at Russian foreign policy over a period of 200 years from 1815 to 2015 . It will seek to establish the continuities and discontinuities in foreign policy between the Imperial, Soviet and Post-Soviet regimes. The course will be framed chronologically and thematically. We will seek to understand the drivers of foreign policy during this period. Among the themes to be studied will be geopolitics, ideology, Great Power Status and the need for security. By following these themes through two centuries we should see clearly what is constant and and what is ephemeral in Russian foreign policy.

The likely seminar programme is as follows:

    • Russian Foreign Policy: Themes and Principles
    • The Imperial Period (1) 1815 -1856 The search for stability – The Concert of Europe
    • The Imperial Period (2) 1856-1914: Security Through Alliances
    • The Soviet Period (1) 1917-1941: The World Revolution and the Soviet State
    • The Soviet Period (2) 1941-1984 The Soviet Superpower
    • The Post Soviet Period (1) 1984-2000 Search for a new path
    • The Post-Soviet Period (2) 2000-2015 The Return of a Great Power?
    • Concluding session: Russian foreign policy 1815-2015

Preliminary reading   

    • Haslam, J. Russia’s Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall. New Haven, 2011
    • Rieber, A.J.  The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: From the Rise of the Early Modern Empires  to the End of the First World War. Cambridge, 2014
    • Tsygankov, A. Russia and the West From Alexander to Putin: Honor in International Relations. Cambridge, 2014


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.