1H Tsarist and Communist Russia, 1855–1964

This option allows students to study in breadth issues of change, continuity, cause and consequence in this period through the following key questions:

  • How was Russia governed and how did political authority change and develop?
  • Why did opposition develop and how effective was it?
  • How and with what results did the economy develop and change?
  • What was the extent of social and cultural change?
  • How important were ideas and ideology?
  • How important was the role of individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

Part one: Autocracy, Reform and Revolution: Russia, 1855–1917

Trying to preserve autocracy, 1855–1894

  • Political authority and the state of Russia: autocracy; the political, social and economic condition of Russia in 1855 and the impact of the Crimean War
  • Political authority and attempts at reform: Alexander II; emancipation of the serfs and attempts at domestic and military reform
  • Government and Tsars: Alexander II and Alexander III as rulers; attitudes to and imposition of autocracy; key developments
  • Political authority in action: Russification; treatment of ethnic minorities and Jews
  • Opposition: ideas and ideologies; individuals; liberals and radical groups and the Tsarist reaction
  • Economic and social developments: industrial developments and the land issue; social divisions; nobles, landowners and position of the peasantry; the cultural influence of the Church

The collapse of autocracy, 1894–1917

  • Political authority, government and Tsar; Nicholas II as ruler: political developments to 1914; 1905 Revolution; Duma government
  • Economic developments to 1914: industrial and agricultural growth and change
  • Social developments to 1914: change and conditions of working and living in towns and countryside; social divisions; cultural changes
  • Opposition: ideas and ideologies, liberalism, socialism; Marxism; individuals and radical groups
  • Political authority, opposition and the state of Russia in wartime: the political, economic and social problems of wartime; opposition and the collapse of autocracy; the political developments of 1917
  • Political authority, opposition and government: the Bolshevik takeover and the establishment of Bolshevik government by December 1917; opposition

Part two: the Soviet Union, 1917–1964 (A-level only)

The emergence of Communist dictatorship, 1917–1941 (A-level only)

  • Political authority and government: new leaders and ideologies; Lenin's Russia, ideology and change; Stalin's rise, ideology and change
  • Political authority and government: the consolidation of Bolshevik authority and development of the Stalinist dictatorship
  • Economic developments: Lenin's decrees; the Stalinist economy; collectivisation and the Five Year Plans
  • Social developments: effect of Leninist/Stalinist rule on class, women, young people, religion and national minorities; propaganda and cultural change
  • Opposition: faction; the Red Terror and the purges
  • The political, economic and social condition of the Soviet Union by 1941

The Stalinist dictatorship and reaction, 1941–1964 (A-level only)

  • Political authority, opposition and the state of Russia in wartime: the political, economic and social impact of war; effect on Stalin, government and 'the people'
  • Political authority and government to 1953: High Stalinism; the revival of terror; destruction of 'supposed' opposition and cult of personality; the power vacuum on Stalin's death
  • Political authority and government: Khrushchev’s rise to power; policies and ideology; de-Stalinisation; political and party change
  • Economic and social developments: changes in industrial organisation from Stalin to Khrushchev; agriculture and the Virgin Lands scheme; social and cultural change from Stalin to Khrushchev
  • Opposition: cultural dissidents; communist divisions; hardliners and reformers; opponents of Khrushchev and his fall from power
  • The political, economic and social condition of the Soviet Union by 1964