HST2001: Russian Revolution, 1917-18

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Dr Miriam Dobson



Pass in at least two of the Level One modules offered by the Department of History.


Module Summary

This module will allow students to explore the Russian revolution through a close study of sources from 1917-18. A tight focus on these years will enable students to grasp some of the complexity not only of political events in St Petersburg, but also of the social tensions and rifts across the whole of Russia. Topics covered include: Lenin - Marx's Disciple, or Betrayer of Marxism?; The Provisional Government; The Radicalisation of Workers; Revolution in the Army; The Peasant Revolution; Raising Socialist Youth; The New Woman; Urban Life after the Revolution; War and Civil War; Culture and Revolution.

Sources will include propaganda posters and films, works of art, popular songs, peasant petitions, and workers' letters. Through a close reading of these primary sources, students will be able to reflect independently on how Soviet and Cold War narratives of the revolution can now be challenged.


Module Aims

This module aims to:

  • Enable students to study in depth the political, social, and cultural history of Russia during the revolutionary years 1917-8.
  • Enable students to develop their skills in interpreting a broad range of sources and to draw their own conclusions based on their reading of this material.
  • Empower students to engage critically and independently with the historiographical debates surrounding the Russian revolution.
  • Encourage students to develop their confidence and competence in presenting their ideas orally.
  • Enable students to improve their ability to analyse sources and discuss key issues in writing.
  • Foster co-operation and team-working skills.
  • Promote students' ability to write informed and cogent essays in clear, structured and grammatical prose.


Teaching and Assessment

The module will be taught through a series of weekly lecture workshops and seminars. The lecture workshops will introduce students to the basic historical and historiographical context and prime students on pertinent issues and sources. They are an efficient way of providing information, encouraging ideas and guiding students' private study. Seminars will provide opportunities for students to present their ideas and interpretations to the wider group. They will be based on systematic study of primary sources prepared in advance and will involve student-led discussions and presentations in order to enhance team-working, presentational and interpretative skills, while involving students in intensive engagement with practices of source criticism.

Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2


Selected Reading

  • Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1932 (Oxford: OUP, 1992)
  • Rex Wade (ed.), Revolutionary Russia: New Approaches (New York and London: Routledge, 2004)
  • Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924 (London: Pimlico, 1997)
  • Rex Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • Mark Steinberg (ed), Voices of Revolution, 1917 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001)
  • William G. Rosenberg (ed), Bolshevik Visions: First Phase of The Cultural Revolution In Soviet Russia (Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1984)
  • Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution (New York: OUP, 1989)
  • Frederick Corney, Telling October: Memory and the Making of the Bolshevik Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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