Russia in Revolution, 1914-21

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Anita Prazmowska E506


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course involves a detailed study, based on documentary material, of the two revolutions of 1917 and the consolidation of Bolshevik rule, with reference to both internal developments and foreign relations.

As a special subject, this course is heavily dependent on documents and draws on a variety of English-language sources including official documents of the Provisional Government, the Petrograd Soviet and the Soviet government, reports by police and local officials from the provinces, speeches and writings of prominent individuals, military records, memoir material and newspaper editorials.

The following topics are studied: the impact of the First World War on the Tsarist regime; the February Revolution; the domestic and foreign policies of the Provisional Government; social and economic problems in 1917 in the towns and countryside; Bolshevik ideology and support in 1917; the Bolshevik Revolution and consolidation of power; the Civil War and the Allied Intervention; Bolshevik social, economic and cultural policies; Bolshevik foreign policy and the Comintern; society in the revolutionary period; cultural developments; the development of the Bolshevik state. General themes which are pursued include: the causes of the failure of both Russian tsardom and Russian liberalism; the inevitability, or otherwise, of a Bolshevik-style solution to the problems of 1917; the significance of various groups of Russian society in the events of 1917 and in the first few years of Bolshevik power; the reasons for the failure of the Left and the Right to overthrow the Bolshevik state; the relative importance of ideology and of pragmatism in Bolshevik polices after October 1917; the extent of the inter-dependence of Bolshevik economic, social, institutional and cultural policies. Extensive use is made of video and film extracts in this course.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 4 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write one essay during MT and one essay during LT. In addition students will have to  prepare two "gobbet" answers, i.e. brief commentaries on extracts from documents used in the course. One further essay will be written under examination conditions during the ST.

Indicative reading

Documents from Martin McCauley (Ed), The Russian Revolution and the Soviet State, 1917-21. Introductory reading: E Acton, Rethinking the Russian Revolution; S Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution; R Service, Society and Politics in the Russian Revolution; D Kaiser (Ed), The Workers Revolution in Russia 1917: The View from Below; D Koenker (Ed), Party, State and Society in the Russian Civil War; James D White, Lenin.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2012/13: 14

Average class size 2012/13: 14

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills