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The Russian Revolution, 1917-21 - HIS00040H

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Shane O'Rourke
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

The course will provide a detailed introduction to the most significant event of the twentieth century using primary and secondary sources. Direct work with primary materials will offer students the chance to study at first hand the materials out of which the historiography of the Revolution has been constructed. Until the recent opening of Soviet archives, not much more information was available to professional historians. The problems associated with the use of documentary evidence, its partial nature, its context, its gaps, assessments of its value will be constantly analysed throughout the course. Primary Sources: For the first part of the course dealing with Revolution from February to October the core text will be the three volume collection of documents edited by Browder and Kerensky. This will be supplemented by memoirs and other documentary collections. For the period of the Civil War we will have a much more eclectic range of documents. These will include material only recently declassified from soviet archives, memoirs, reports from western governments as well as large published collections

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to in depth study of a specific historical topic using primary and secondary material;
  • To enable students to explore the topic through discussion and writing; and
  • To enable students to evaluate and analyse primary sources.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Grasp key themes, issues and debates relevant to the topic being studied;
  • Have acquired knowledge and understanding about that topic;
  • Be able to comment on and analyse original sources;
  • Be able to relate the primary and secondary material to one another; and
  • Have acquired skills and confidence in close reading and discussion of texts and debates.

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1 of the autumn term, and a 3-hour seminar in weeks 2-5 and 7-9 of the autumn term and weeks 2-5 and 7-10 of the spring term. Both the autumn and spring terms include a reading week for final year students and so there will be no teaching in week 6. Students prepare for and participate in fifteen three-hour seminars. One-to-one meetings will also be held to discuss the assessed essay.

Seminars will follow the course of the revolution chronologically and thematically, combining discussion of sources with consideration of the secondary literature.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4,000 word essay
N/A 50
Online Exam
Online Exam - 24 hours
N/A 50

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

For formative assessment, students will be given the opportunity to do practice gobbets and then required to write a 2,000-word procedural essay relating to the themes and issues of the module in either the autumn or spring term.

For summative assessment, students complete a 4,000-word essay which utilises an analysis of primary source materials to explore a theme or topic relating to the module, due in week 5 of the summer term.

They then take a three-hour closed examination for summative assessment in the summer term assessment period comprising: one essay question relating to themes and issues, but showing an awareness of the pertinent sources that underpin these AND one ‘gobbet’ question (where students attempt two gobbets from a slate of eight).

The essay and exam are weighted equally at 50% each.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4,000 word essay
N/A 50
Online Exam
Online Exam - 24 hours
N/A 50

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline unless submitted in week 5 of the summer term, in which case these are available within 25 working days. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Laura Engelstein Russia In Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921 (Oxford, 2017)

Steve Smith Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 (Oxford, 2017)

Rex Wade The Russian Revolution 1917 (Cambridge, 2005) 

 (All available as paperbacks)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.