Political Change: Eastern Europe in Transition

Module code: L2017
Level 6
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay, Coursework

The main objective of the module is to explain the process of radical political change by examining the decline of communism in Eastern Europe and the reasons that led to its sudden collapse in 1989. It focuses on the six countries that comprised the former Soviet bloc: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, Hungary, Poland and Romania. The central issue that the module seeks to address is: why did the East European communist regimes collapse so rapidly in 1989? We begin by looking for the underlying causes of the collapse and examining: the establishment of communist systems in post-war Eastern Europe, failed attempts at reform, the emergence of opposition and the impact of Gorbachev’s accession to power in the Soviet Union in 1985. Secondly, the 1989 revolutions are examined in detail to identify their immediate causes in each of the individual countries. Thirdly, we seek to identify common factors and examine critically various theories and approaches to explaining the collapse of communist power such as legitimation crisis and comparative theories of democratisation.

Module learning outcomes

  • Be able to account for political change in Eastern Europe
  • Develop an argument based on academic sources in an organised and structured way
  • Evaluate and use appropriate theories or approaches to the study of politics to account for change in Eastern Europe
  • Organise and use evidence from a range of sources to illustrate political change in a part of Eastern Europe