Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Soviet/Russian Concepts of National Security from 1917 to Today HIST4022

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The end of the Cold War led to unprecedented quantities of primary source material related to Soviet foreign and security policy available in English translation. With a special focus on Eastern Europe and the Third World, this course uses this material to examine the evolution of the Cold War from the Kremlin's perspective, as well as considering the legacies of the Cold War era for Russia today.


Three hours per week. This is one of the honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes

Excluded Courses






Coursework - class essay (2,000 words) (20%)

Coursework - seminar presentation (6%) seminar contribution (4%)

Examination - 120 minutes duration (70%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:


■ increase understanding of Cold War history and the work involved in working with primary sources.

■ expose students to the concept of security dilemmas, in a manner that increases their capacity to understand government policy making in general and foreign policy formation in particular.

■ expose students to different understandings of how governments and bureaucracies manage (or fail to manage) change.

■ show students how a professional historian working in twentieth century history works and how archival revelations change and alter understandings of the field.

■ support students in the production of their essay and seminar presentation; students will gain first hand experience of the scoping and shaping of research projects and the challenges faced by historians in the pursuit of advances in knowledge.

■ encourage students to develop imagination, skills and self-discipline required to master a similarly demanding brief in the future, whether in historical research with speciality on the Cold War, or in any sphere or employment where these qualities are valuable.

■ encourage students to reflect on the range of generic research and communication skills they are developing over the course of this course in order to align their academic and professional aspirations and competencies and to encourage reflective practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students should:

■ have the ability to analyse and explain the linkages between perceptions of national security, military modernization, and domestic reform in the period and region concerned.

■ have the capacity to analyse the corresponding dilemmas of money, material resources, space and time and conceptualise a corresponding framework.

■ have, in both verbal and written format an appreciation of the temporary as opposed to permanent operating factors that have shaped the formulation of Russian/Soviet national security policy.

■ have an awareness and understanding of the key conceptual debates in the relevant literature.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.