The Russian Empire, 1689-1917 (HIH2210A)

StaffDr Matt Rendle - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF LevelL5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

You will need effective communication and analytical skills, oral and written, to complete many of your modules and in a job after you graduate.  This module aims to help you develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material, and in reporting on your work.  It provides you with an opportunity to explore an area of history in more depth, and helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history. It will also give you an opportunity to work in a team on a group presentation.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Be aware of the various developments in the history of the Russian Empire from 1689 to 1917
  • 2. Make a close evaluation of the key political, social, economic and cultural developments of the period
  • 3. Evaluate the main themes in the subject and to collate information upon, and evaluate in greater detail, those aspects of the module discussed in seminar and especially those topics selected by students for their coursework

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Analyse the key developments of the period
  • 5. Collate data from a range of sources, both primary and secondary
  • 6. Interpret primary sources
  • 7. Trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments
  • 8. Recognise and deploy historical terminology correctly
  • 9. Assess different approaches to historical writing in areas of controversy

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions
  • 11. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with little guidance
  • 12. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument

Syllabus plan








The ‘Barbaric’ East: Russia on the eve of 1689

Russia and Empire


From Tsar to Emperor: Peter the Great



The Foundation of the Russian State

The Legacy of Peter the Great


The ‘Westernization’ of Russian Culture



Serfdom and the Structures of Society

Narratives of Serfdom


The Era of Stagnation, 1725-62?



The Meaning of Autocracy: Catherine the Great

Autocracy and Enlightenment: Catherine the Great


Creating a Multinational Empire



The Russian Enlightenment

Belief: Orthodoxy and its Rivals


Alexander and the Napoleonic Wars



The Decembrist Revolt

Russia’s First Revolutionaries: The Decembrists


Autocracy, Orthodoxy, Nationality: Nicholas I



The Birth of the Intelligentsia

Two Heads, Same Heart? The Intelligentsia


The Crimean War, Alexander II and the Abolition of Serfdom



The ‘Great’ Reforms

Transforming Rural Russia


Society after Serfdom: The Birth of Modernity?



Modernizing Russia: Industrialization, Urbanization and the Rise of Civil Society

Modernizing Russia: Urbanization, Consumerism and Civil Society


Forging a Revolutionary Movement



The Multinational Empire: Ethnicity, Nationality and Russification

The Power of Ideas: Conservatism, Liberalism, Socialism


The 1905 Revolution



A Constitutional Monarchy?

A Russian ‘Parliament’? The Duma, 1906-17


The First World War and the 1917 Revolution


Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities22Seminars; these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and present on a given topic in groups of 4, on 4 occasions
Guided independent study22Web-based activities located on ELE - preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided independent study234Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan x 1500 words1-12Verbal and written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay x 1303000 words1-12Verbal and written
Exam502 questions in 2 hours1-12Written
Group Presentation2025 minutes1-12Written and verbal

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay - 3000 words1-12Referral/deferral period
Seen examSeen exam - 2 questions in 2 hours1-12Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module.  Where you have been referred/deferred for the essay, you will be required to submit an essay which will constitute 33% of the module mark (10 credits).  Where you have been referred/deferred for the exam, you will have the opportunity to take a second exam in the August/September reassessment period.  This will constitute 67% of the module (20 credits).

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Dixon, S., The Modernisation of Russia 1676-1825 (Cambridge,1999)

Dixon, S., Catherine the Great (London, 2009)

Dowler, W., Russia in 1913 (DeKalb, 2010)

Gatrell, P., Russia’s First World War: A Social and Economic History (Harlow, 2005)

Hartley, J., Alexander I (Harlow, 1994)

Hartley, J., A Social History of the Russian Empire, 1650-1825 (Harlow, 1999)

Hosking, G., Russia: People and Empire, 1552-1917 (London, 1997)

Hughes, L., Russia in the Age of Peter the Great (New Haven, 1998)

Lieven, D., Empire: The Russian Empire and its Rivals (London, 2000)

Lieven, D. (ed.), Cambridge History of Russia. Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1689-1917 (Cambridge, 2006)

Saunders, D., Russia in the Age of Reaction and Reform, 1801-1881 (Harlow, 1992)

Thatcher, I. (ed.), Late Imperial Russia: Problems and Prospects (Manchester, 2005)

Wirtschafter, E., Social Identity in Imperial Russia (DeKalb, 1997)

Wirtschafter, E., Russia’s Age of Serfdom, 1649-1861 (Oxford, 2008)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources [various documents] [Imperial memorabilia, including memoirs] [photographs]

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date