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Russia and the world



_Objective 1:_The aim of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to Russian politics: increase their knowledge and understanding of Russia’s political system and its position in international relations.

Objective 2: Students will learn to apply theories and concepts from the fields of comparative politics and international relations to the case of Russia and strengthen their analytical skills in writing and presenting.

The course consists of two main blocks. In the first block we will focus on domestic politics of Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, attempt to define Russia’s political system, and situate it in a comparative perspective. More specifically, we will analyse the changes that occurred in the institutional arrangement and state-society relations during the transition years and under Putin’s rule. In addition to the core reading focusing on domestic politics (institutional design, political parties, federalism, civil society, and media), we will explore the academic literature on regime types and articles comparing Russia with other countries.
The second block of the course will focus on Russia’s foreign policy and international relations. We will discuss competing ideas about Russia’s place in the world present among Russian elites and the actual relations of Russia with countries in different regions of the world (USA, EU, and China). Moreover, we will discuss the role of Russia in international organizations (United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Eurasian Economic Union, and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation). We will debate the conflicts in Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2013-) and the idea of a ‘New Cold War’. Students will be encouraged to apply concepts of nationalism, sovereignty, democratisation, globalisation, and human rights in the context of Russian foreign policy, as well as reflect on the links between domestic and international politics.



Methods of Instruction

Short lectures, seminar-style discussions, student presentations and reports

Study Material

White, S., Sakwa, R. and Hale, H. E. (Eds.) (2014), Developments in Russian Politics 8, Palgrave Macmillan, Duke University Press, 2014. (Be sure to buy this edition.)

In addition, a collection of academic book chapters and journal articles will be used (to be announced). A course syllabus will be made available via Blackboard.


Active participation (10%), presentation (15%), mid-term essay (30%), final paper (45%). Regular attendance is required; students who miss more than two sessions will automatically fail the course.

Admission requirements



Master students that started their studies in September 2015 can register for one seminar in uSis from Tuesday 8 December 10.00 hrs. until Tuesday 15 December 10.00 hrs.

For Master students that start their studies in February 2016 registration is possible from Wednesday 13 January 2016, 10.00 hrs. until 20 January 2016, 10.00 hrs. Please send an e-mail with your full name, student number and preference for your seminar courses to the Institute Secretariat at You will receive an auto-reply with a confirmation that we have received your e-mail. You will be informed about the seminars for which you have been registered before 1 February 2016.

Please note that elective seminars have a maximum number of participants and placement is subject to availability. Registration is on a first come first served basis.