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Territory & Conflict in the former Soviet Union - POL00023H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Nina Caspersen
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of recent wars and armed conflicts in the former Soviet Union: in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Georgia), Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan) and Chechnya (Russia). We will first examine the challenges faced after communism and discuss what made the new states emerging from the Soviet Union so susceptible to conflict. We will then proceed to analyse the root causes and triggers of violence in the four cases and compare these to the conditions that existed in cases that remained stable. We will then go on to analyse the attempts that have been made to reach peaceful solutions; we will discuss why international efforts have failed and examine possible alternative approaches. The module will be accessible to all students, whether they are new to the topic or not.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the recent political history of the former Soviet Union, in particular the Caucasus;
  • Compare the different cases of armed conflict (and cases where no violence occurred) and identify key dynamics;
  • Discuss competing views of the causes of conflict in the former Soviet Union;
  • Critically examine attempts made at resolving the conflicts.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor?s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor?s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Cornell, S & S F Starr, The Guns of August 2008: Russia's War in Georgia (M.E. Sharpe, 2009).

De Waal, T, The Caucasus: An Introduction (OUP, 2009).

Hughes, J. & G. Sasse G, Ethnicity and Territory in the Former Soviet Union (Routledge, 2001).

Hughes, J, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

Kaufman, S, Modern Hatreds : The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (Cornell, 2001).

King C, The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus (OUP, 2008).

Zurcher, C, The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus (NYC Press, 2007).

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

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