IR379      Half Unit
Russia in World Politics

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Tomila Lankina CBG 10.13


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.


None. If students have not taken Foreign Policy Analysis (IR202), they can consider attending the lecture of Foreign Policy Analysis (IR202) to enhance their knowledge and understanding.

Course content

The course offers an analysis of key issues in the development of Russian domestic, foreign and security policies and the role that it plays in global politics. The course covers the various factors shaping Russian domestic, foreign and security policy. It will explore both the domestic aspects of politics, political regime and protest; and foreign policy and security issues, such as Russia's recent military build-up, economic power projection, the geopolitics of oil and gas, as well as soft power and soft security aspects of Russia's foreign policy, including the role of the media and propaganda; hybrid warfare; the role of ideas and norms; we will also explore the historical legacies influencing Russian politics and political regime and how Russia sees the world and its neighbours. Each of the ten topics covered will speak to the major theoretical debates on the factors shaping domestic and foreign policy and students will be encouraged to  evaluate the merits of the various theories based on available evidence. The background class focuses on the domestic and international context preceding Russia's emergence as a successor to the Soviet Union. The subsequent sessions analyse post-communist Russian domestic and foreign policy with a special focus on the President Putin era, including the consolidation of authoritarian rule, domestic civil society and protest, the military interventions in Georgia, the invasion of Ukraine, the securitisation of Russia's media and Russia's attempts to influence politics in the EU and beyond.

Some of the questions to be addressed in the course of the ten classes are: How have domestic institutions and political regime changed following the collapse of the USSR? What is the nature of Russia's political regime type and in what ways does it matter for Russia’s socio-economic development?  What are the impacts of domestic politics on foreign policy making and thinking? How has Russia sought to use traditional security mechanisms, hard power and soft power to influence the "near abroad"? Has Russia's war in Ukraine suggested that a new Iron Curtain has descended isolating Russia from the West? What are the key mechanisms of Western influence on Russia's foreign policy? What kind of a relationship has Russia forged with China and what are the factors shaping this relationship? What drives the nuances of Russia's policy in the Middle East? What role do energy politics play in Russia's relations with its neighbours and in Russia's foreign policy globally?


20 hours of classes in the MT.

This course is delivered through classes totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. Students are expected to engage in independent study, using the reading list to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT. The class presentation will be on the same topic as the topic covered that week and will help students better understand the subject of that seminar. Each student will write a review of one of the required readings in no more than 300 words.

Indicative reading

Greene, Samuel A., and Graeme B. Robertson. 2019. Putin v. the People: The Perilous Politics

of a Divided Russia. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Frye, Timothy. Weak Strongman. 2021. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Lankina, Tomila V. 2022. The Estate Origins of Democracy in Russia: From Imperial Bourgeoisie to Post-Communist Middle Class. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sharafutdinova, Gulnaz. 2020. The Red Mirror: Putin's Leadership and Russia's Insecure Identity: New York, NY : Oxford University Press.

Stoner, Kathryn E. Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

Toal, Gerard. 2017. Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus: New York: Oxford University Press.

Tsygankov, Andrei, ed. Routledge Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy. London: Routledge, 2020.


Essay (80%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Class participation (20%) in the MT.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication