What is the course about?
This course examines the efforts of the Communist Party to govern the Soviet Union from the immediate postwar years to the collapse of the USSR in 1991. These years were characterised by major changes in how the USSR was governed, and how the Party sought to legitimise its rule and gain the consent or at least tolerance of the Soviet population. The emphasis of this course is on domestic policy and relations between regime and society in the Soviet Union.
What will we cover?
The course will begin by analysing the final years of the Stalin regime, and the complex attempts by the Party leadership to disentangle Stalin’s legacy and disestablish the cult of personality after his death in 1953. Students will learn about economic and social policy under Khrushchev and Brezhnev, as well as opposition to the regime from within and without the Party. The course will conclude by examining Glasnost’ and Perestroika, and their role in causing the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Identify the key changes in how the Soviet Union was governed between 1945 and 1991.
• Understand the ways in which society and economy in the USSR changed in the latter half of the twentieth century.
• Discuss the extent to which the Soviet regime truly ‘de-Stalinised.’
• Identify the ways in which Soviet citizens supported or resisted the Soviet regime.
• Understand the main explanations offered by historians for why the USSR collapsed when it did.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is intended for anyone with an interest in learning more about the history of the USSR. A familiarity with Soviet history pre-1945 is useful, but not essential. A general familiarity with European history in the late 20th century will be useful purely for the sake of comparison.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught by a series of short lectures followed by class discussion. You will be expected to complete some preparatory reading before each class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You are advised to bring a pen and some paper, and to approach the course with an open mind towards studying ideas you may not agree with.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other courses in European and World History. Please see the City Lit website.