Everyday Stalinism: Life in the Soviet Union, 1928-53: Sources (HIH3187)

StaffDr Claire McCallum - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesEveryday Stalinism: Life in the Soviet Union, 1928-53: Context.
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to introduce students to some of the cutting-edge developments in the study of Stalinism by getting them to think beyond the political and ideological aspects that have traditionally dominated scholarship and instead engage with ideas surrounding identity, resistance and how citizens negotiated their lives within the parameters of the Stalinist state. This will be achieved through both secondary reading and detailed examination of a range of source material, to include diaries, letters, memoirs and cultural sources such as film, art and literature. Students will be actively encouraged to think about how these shifts in scholarship, and increased access to sources following the opening of the Soviet archives after 1991, have impacted upon how we perceive Stalinism and the experiences of those who lived through it. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. A detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of Stalinism, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work.
  • 2. Ability to analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts.
  • 4. Ability to understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 5. Ability to follow complex reasoning inherent in the discourse of the period.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 7. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 8. Ability to present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

Each week we will explore a different genre of source in relation to the themes and issues discussed in our context seminar. These sources will range from traditional textual material, like autobiographies and diaries, to more unusual material such as jokes, rumours, and songs.

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 activities4422 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course.1-6, 8Oral from tutor and fellow students.

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
Portfolio806000 words, broken down into 2 x 1000 word source commentaries, plus 2x 2000 word essays. 1-7Verbal and written
Individual presentation2020-30 minutes1-8Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period
PresentationWritten transcript of 20 minute presentation.1-8

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Brandenberger, D., National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russia (2002)

Brooks, J., Thank You, Comrade Stalin!: Soviet Public Culture From Revolution to Cold War (1999)

Davies, S. and Harris, J. (eds.), Stalin: A New History (2005)

Davies, S., Popular Opinion in Stalin’s Russia: Terror, Propaganda and Dissent 1934-1941 (1997)

Edele, M., Stalinist Society (2011)

Fitzpatrick, S. (ed.), Stalinism: New Directions (2000)

Fitzpatrick, S. Everyday Stalinism. Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times. Soviet Russia in the 1930s (1999)

Fitzpatrick and Geyer, Beyond Totalitarianism: Nazism and Stalinism (2008)

Hoffmann, D. (ed.), Stalinism: The Essential Readings (2003)

Hoffmann, D., Stalinist Values (2003)

Hoffmann, Cultivating the Masses: Soviet Social Intervention in Its International Context (2011)

Kotkin, S., Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as Civilisation (1997)

Platt and Brandenberger, Epic Revisionism: Russian History And Literature As Stalinist Propaganda (2006)

Siegelbaum and Sokolov (eds), Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents (2000)

Viola et al (eds), The Tragedy of the Soviet Countryside: The War Against the Peasantry, 1927-1930, v. 1  (2005) 

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Marxist Internet Archive – www.marxists.org

Museum of the Russian Poster: http://eng.plakaty.ru/posters

Soviet History Online – www.soviethistory.org

The Virtual Gulag Museum: http://www.gulagmuseum.org/index_eng.htm

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

Stalin, Stalinism, Soviet Union