Russia, Eurasia and the Crisis of the Liberal West (998M9)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

Why is Russia meddling in Western elections and supporting right-wing populists across the globe? And how might this be connected to a deeper crisis of the liberal West? This module explores Russia’s resurgence as an illiberal global actor and its roots in developments in the Eurasian region since the end of the Cold War. After the Soviet collapse, Russia and the new states of the region became a laboratory for the globalization of liberal norms and a fast-track transition to democracy and capitalism. 30 years later, these transitions have produced ‘virtual democracies’, kleptocratic states whose elites are active players in a global ‘offshore capitalism’. Russia under Putin has emerged as a challenger to the liberal international order, explicitly contesting liberal norms and contributing to geopolitical shifts. At the same time, China is now a major player in Eurasia and the Russian-Chinese alignment is shaped by regional interactions. Paying attention to regional legacies of non-Western empires and Soviet modernization, we will critically examine IR debates about power, identity and empire and learn how Russia and Eurasia are shaped by and contribute to current global transformations. No specialist historical knowledge necessary; relevant material is covered in class.

Topics include: The ‘Putin system’ and kleptocratic networks; identities and political imaginaries, from hyper-masculinity to the geopolitical imaginary of ‘the West’; identities, borders and protracted conflicts; Russia, the West and struggles for democracy; the geopolitics of energy in Eurasia; Russia, China and the Belt and Road Initiative; EU, NATO and Russia; Russia’s challenge to liberal norms and LBTGQ rights; Russian cyber operations and the changing nature of state power; the emerging impact of the pandemic on regional and global politics.


100%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.