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Regional Trends: Russia in World Politics


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Completion of a 200-level WP course, ideally from the same Major track.

Please note this courses was formerly titled: Regional Trends: Contemporary Russian Politics and Security.


This course introduces students to the history, politics and government of the Russian Federation. It begins with an introduction to history of Russia but focuses more specifically on the origins, structure and development of the USSR. We also examine the reasons behind its collapse, particularly the impact of Gorbachev’s perestroika. This part of the course is designed to increase your knowledge about the ideas, influences and forces that have shaped contemporary Russia politics and foreign policy specifically.

In the second part, the focus turns towards contemporary Russian politics. We examining how the state works in practice and the legacies of post communism, political culture and Russian nationalism.

The third part of the course provides an overview of Russia‘s foreign policy. It examines the way Russia manages current global insecurity and instability and specifically in the post-Soviet space and the war its war with Ukraine. It also explores Russia’s role in the international system including its relations relations with other global actors such as the US, EU, China and the BRICS.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the key features of the USSR as a political system, the reasons behind its disintegration, and its relevance for understanding contemporary Russia;

  • Critically examine Russian politics and security within world politics;

  • Identify competing analytical and ideological approaches for understanding Russian Politics;

  • Conceptualise Russia as a foreign policy actor

  • Develop key transferable skills of written and oral communication, group working, and the ability to think critically about individuals, processes, events, ideas and institutions in light of the scholarly literature.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. During the course of the seminar students are expected to take part in both large and small group discussions; participate in seminar discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in a group project. This course will also include a fieldwork trip to the Stedelijk Museum or to Amsterdam Hermitage to visit a collection of Russian and Ukrainian Avant Garde art from around the 1917 Revolution. The role of the course instructor is to ensure the efficient running of the discussion.

Assessment Method

Four elements of coursework constitute the final mark for the course:

  • Participation (18%)

  • In class exams - two (25% each)

  • Group project (32%)

Reading list

Richard Sakwa, Russian Politics and Society (5th edition, 2021)

Because of the rapid changes in Russia, and because this is 300-level course most of the assigned readings will be from academic journals; however, students will also be provided by a list of relevant and reliable websites to keep up-to-date with recent developments.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Beatrix Campbell,