The Russian Revolution: Sources (HIH3257)

StaffDr Matt Rendle - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at level 1 and/or level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3258 The Russian Revolution: Context
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module studies the revolutionary period in Russian history (1914-22) through the wide range of sources available, including memoirs, diaries, letters, political manifestos, official documents and correspondence, newspapers reports, photographs, and film. It encourages students to analyse and evaluate the reliability and value of these sources, place them in the broader context in which they were produced, and relate them to the subsequent arguments of historians.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Have a detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of the Russian Revolution, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work.
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts
  • 4. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 5. Follow theories and evaluate critically the often complex reasoning of contemporary discourses

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Independently and autonomously study and work within a group, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

This module begins by examining the political, social and economic position of Russia on the eve of the First World War before exploring the impact of the war and the background to the February Revolution. The main body of the module focuses on analysing the events of 1917 with seminars covering the political developments, popular interpretations of the revolution, and the role of regionalism and nationalism. The module then examines how the Bolsheviks established their authority, the failure of socialist alternatives, and the interplay between different forces during the civil war. It finishes with the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922, and an assessment of the image of the revolution in Soviet Russia and its broader impact.

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 Activities44seminars (22 x 2hrs)
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 course1-6, 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
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Verbal and written
Individual presentation3020-30 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

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4,000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Acton, E. and Stableford, T., The Soviet Union: A Documentary History. Vol. I (Exeter, 2005)

Browder, R. and Kerensky, A., The Russian Provisional Government. Documents (3 vols., Stanford, 1961)

Butt, V. et al. (eds.), The Russian Civil War: Documents from the Soviet Archives (Basingstoke, 1996)

Denikin, A., The Russian Turmoil (Westport, 1973) and The White Army (Westport, 1973)

Got'e, Iu., Time of Troubles: The Diary of Iurii Vladimirovich Got'e,1917-1922 (London, 1988)

Keep, J. (ed.), The Debate on Soviet Power (Oxford, 1979)

Kerensky, A., The Kerensky Memoirs (London, 1966)

Kowalski, R., The Russian Revolution, 1917-21 (London, 1997) [collection of various sources]

Steinberg, M., Voices of Revolution, 1917 (New Haven, 2001)

Sukhanov, N., The Russian Revolution, 1917: A Personal Record (Oxford, 1955)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Lenin's Collected Works and those of other socialists:

Russian Civil War Posters:

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (DVD, dir. S. Eisenstein, 1928)

The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (DVD, dir. E. Shub, 1927)

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

Russia, Revolution