Russian and History BA


Fact file - 2018 entry

Russian and History | BA Jt Hons
UCAS code
4 years full-time/year 3 out (available part-time)
A level offer
Open to beginners and A level students of Russian
Required subjects
B in history at A Level. B in Russian for post-A level pathway. No language qualification is required for the intensive beginners’ pathway
IB score
5 at Higher Level in history, and 5 at Higher Level or 6 at Standard Level (B programme) in Russian, if applicable. No language qualification is required for the intensive beginners’ pathway
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places
25 for all joint honours courses in history and a modern language


This course offers you the opportunity to combine studies in the language, literature, history and culture of Russian with a wide range of modules in history.
Read full overview

This course, combining history and Russian language and culture, is open to beginners in Russian as well as post-A level students. Beginners’ Russian students (including post-GCSE) follow an intensive language course designed to take them to degree level within four years, while post-A level students take language classes at an advanced level. Absolute beginners, GCSE, AS, or A level students in Russian are warmly invited to apply. 

You will acquire the skills for writing and debating history, and an in-depth analysis of an area of historiography of your choice will help you to develop critical abilities. The Russian course aims to take you to a high level in Russian, enabling you to use the language in your career if you choose to. From year one our classes target your linguistic development over the full range of skills, increasingly targeting applied and employment-related situations as you progress. All our students spend time in Russia to consolidate their language skills and improve their fluency and confidence. At the end of the first year you will be offered the chance to spend two weeks in Russia on a special subsidised language course. This helps to prepare you for your third year, which is spent abroad, studying at a Russian university or language school. At each level you will also take modules in Russian and East European literature, history, cinema and cultural studies, beginning at introductory level in year one and becoming more specialised as the course progresses. The breadth of our research expertise means we are able to offer our students an exceptionally broad choice and a course that promotes a deep understanding of what makes Russia the nation it is today. Additionally, we offer all students the chance to learn a second Slavonic language (Serbian/Croatian or Slovene).

Year one 

In history, you will take the core module Learning History which introduces you to the skills and methodologies of historical research, together with modules from the early medieval period to the 20th century. The first-year Russian language course develops the four skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing. The Russian core module Nation, Myth, Identity introduces the study of Russia and Eastern Europe through topics in culture, history, language and society and also gives a grounding in essential study skills. All students have the opportunity of participating in a subsidised language course in Russia in the summer vacation.

Year two

The core element in  history is provided by the module The Contemporary World since 1945, which explores key historical debates concerning the immediate origins of the world in which we now live. In addition, you will be able to select more specific optional modules in history from a menu covering an extremely wide chronological and geographical range. In Russian, language modules will target more advanced grammar and applications of the language in preparation for the year abroad. To complement your Russian language studies, you will choose modules to suit your interests from the wide range on offer in Russian history, literature and cultural studies. It is also possible to begin learning Serbian/Croatian or Slovene.

Year three

The third academic year is spent abroad in Russia. You can either:

  • study at one of our partner universities or
  • study at a language school.

If you are taking a second Slavonic language, you will be able to divide your time to cover the countries of both languages.

For more information, see our Year Abroad page.

Year four

You will apply your Russian language skills in high-level modules, including those dealing with employment related topics. You will also extend the skills and knowledge acquired earlier in the course in specialised modules on topics in which you have become particularly interested. We offer a wide range of options, taught by experts in areas from the Byzantine period to the present day and across literature, cinema, history and cultural studies. You will have the option of beginning a new language. In history, you will really get to grips with historical work during the year-long Special Subject study, based on primary sources. In addition, you will take one from a broad array of specialised optional modules.

More information

See also the Department of History.


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, including history at A level. B in Russian for post A-level pathway

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications

We recognise that potential students have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education, so we treat applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) as individuals, and accept students with a range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive, and we consider applicants with other qualifications on an individual basis. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

For more information, please see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy 

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


Typical year one modules


Russian 1 (Beginners)
This year-long module provides the opportunity to learn Russian to approximately A level standard as a basis for study to honours degree level. Students study grammar and syntax, acquire vocabulary, read simple texts, and engage in simple conversations on personal subjects. They also learn about daily life in Russia.


Russian 1

You will consolidate and develop the knowledge of Russian which you gained at A level. This module focuses on practical application of your language skills, including reading, writing, comprehension and oral communication. You will also study some grammar topics in depth. You’ll spend around four hours per week in practical classes workshops and tutorials, being taught by experienced teachers, most of whom are native speakers. You will also benefit from our excellent language laboratory facilities. 



Nation, Myth, Identity: Introduction to Russian and Slavonic Studies

This module introduces students to important areas and topics in Russian and Slavonic studies, examining important aspects of the histories and cultures of the region, as well as aspects of the languages, cultures and literary traditions. You will learn to analyse a wide range of cultural phenomena, including pictures, music, film, literary texts and other kinds of written sources.



Learning History
This module will provide you with the learning skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history. You will be introduced to different approaches in the study of history as well as to different understandings of what history is for. The module aims to encourage more effective learning, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline, and enhance the skills listed. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.


Introduction to the Medieval World, 500-1500

This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500–1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organization; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will have a one hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.

From Reformation to Revolution: An Introduction to Early Modern History, 1500-1789
This module introduces you to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between 1500 and 1789. You’ll examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the ‘New World’ spending two hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History, 1789-1945
In the first semester the module provides a chronology of modern history from c.1789-1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Students on the post-A level pathway also have the choice of optional modules in Russian and Slavonic studies, and may opt to learn a second Slavonic language (Serbian/Croatian or Slovene) from beginners' level in Year One. 


Typical year two modules


Russian 2 (Beginners)
You’ll consolidate and develop the knowledge of Russian you acquired in year one. This module focuses on practical application of your language skills, including reading, writing, comprehension and oral communication. You will also study some grammar topics in depth. You’ll spend around four hours per week in practical classes workshops and tutorials, being taught by experienced teachers, most of whom are native speakers. You will also benefit from our excellent language laboratory facilities.


Russian 2
This module will help you to develop your comprehension of Russian and your communicative skills, including reading, oral fluency in Russian, and translation from Russian into English. The module also includes some writing in Russian and study of more sophisticated grammar topics. You’ll spend three hours per week in practical classes. 


The World of Orthodox Sainthood

You’ll gain an understanding of the growth and development of the cult of saints in the Eastern Christian world in the context of the history and culture of late antiquity and the middle ages. In particular, you’ll learn to interpret original written sources and icons and will master the basic tools for conducting research in the field, spending around three hours in lectures and seminars each week. 

Multimedia Russian
This is an optional language module that allows students to explore the Russian media from the Soviet era to the present day. Different types of media are investigated, via translation, transcription or précis. The module aims to improve linguistic skills and comprehension of a wide range of media sources and give an appreciation of the historical background of the media and insights into style, register and language use.
Repression and Resistance: Dissidents and Exiles in Russian Culture
This module provides you with an introduction to the themes of dissidence and exile, central notions in Russian literature, culture and thinking, using the examples of the life and work of four major Russian writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Bulgakov). You will learn the theory of different literary forms such as verse narrative, novel, short story and drama. 
Serbian and Croatian Literature
You’ll examine major literary movements in Serbia and Croatia during the 20th century, from Modernism to the socially engaged literature of the 1930s, Socialist Realism, literary politics under the Communists in Yugoslavia and the emergence of critical literature in the 1980s and 1990s. You’ll also undertake a textual analysis of representative works from 20th century literature; for example, works by Milos Crnjanski, Ivo Andrić, Miroslav Krleža, Danilo Kiš and Slobodan Selenić. You’ll spend around two hours per week studying in lectures and seminars.

The History of Yugoslavia and Successor States since 1941

The aim of this module is to examine developments in the political, social and diplomatic history of Yugoslavia after 1941 leading towards an understanding of the reasons behind the collapse of the country and subsequent violence in the 1990s. You’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.

Screening Russia: Film and Society from the Tsars to Putin

In this module you will acquire an in-depth understanding of developments in Russian society and culture as reflected in popular and influential films from around 1900 to the present day. You’ll examine how films are constructed technically and develop skills in analysing cinema in its historical and social contexts. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.

The Venetian Republic, c. 1450-1575

This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. Students learn about the enormous cultural dynamism of the city, especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese, changing urban fabric, the rôle of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender.


Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900

The module introduces students to study of how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities (covering the period 1840-1900). It focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change. Topics addressed may include railway travel, the bourgeois home, photography, slum literature and museum culture.


Soviet State and Society, 1917-1991

This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You’ll look at Russia both from the top down, state-building strategies; leadership and regime change, economic and social policy formulation and implementation, and from the bottom up, societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Race, Rights and Propaganda: The Superpowers, the Cold War, and the Politics of Racial Identity, 1945-89
The Cold War was a conflict defined as much by intellectual and cultural struggle as by conventional military means, diplomacy, or realpolitik. Conceptions of race and identity were by no means immune from this, but heavily disputed and contested in the political environment of the Cold War. This module examines how the two superpowers dealt with issues of race and identity during the Cold War years, confronting questions and challenges from both within their own borders (and each other’s) and in several theatres of superpower conflict – including the Middle East, East Asia and post-colonial Africa. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.

All students also have the option of beginning a second Slavonic language (Serbian/Croatian or Slovene)


Typical year three modules

The third academic year is spent abroad in Russia. You can either:

  • study at one of our partner universities or
  • study at a language school.

If you are taking a second Slavonic language, you will be able to divide your time to cover the countries of both languages.

For more information, see our Year Abroad page.


Typical year four modules


Russian 3
Through this module you’ll develop a high level of Russian language skills, both written and oral. The written skills include English-Russian and Russian-English translation, business Russian, summaries and creative writring in Russian. Oral presentations draw upon and extend the practical language experience of your year abroad. You’ll also cover advanced grammar topics of Russian. You will spend three hours per week in practical classes and workshops.


Russian Interpreting
This module will introduce you to different forms, modes, and models of interpreting as well as the issues that are often encountered by professional interpreters. It will offer opportunities to explore the different techniques/skills required for both simultaneous and consecutive interpretation. The module is seminar-led in order to maximise practice in class with two hours of both lectures and practicals weekly. The main difficulties of interpreting will be examined, along with strategies to deal with them.
Nabokov’s Fiction

This module examines the life and work of Vladimir Nabokov, one of the most important writers of twentieth-century Russian literature. The main focus is on Nabokov’s works from his Russian-language period (1919-40), but examples of his later work written in English (1940-77) are also studied.

Myths and Memories: Histories of Russia's Second World War
This module introduces you to the construction of national and collective memory of the Second World War in Soviet and Russian culture and society. You’ll focus on contemporary and subsequent artistic and social responses to the experience of war, but also look at individual acts of remembering (diaries, reports, letters) in the context of a wider cultural memory. The module is conducted in English and you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Russian Popular Music in the 20th and 21st Centuries 

The module offers an in-depth study of the development of popular music in Russia in the 20th and 21st centuries. You will gain knowledge of the popular musical culture of the late tsarist, Soviet and post-Soviet eras, and learn to analyse songs and performances using such concepts as authorship, performance, technology and ideology. You will have one lecture and one two-hour seminar per week on this module.

History of the Byzantine Empire
This module offers advanced study of the history of the Byzantine Empire from the reign of Constantine I to the fall of Constantinople. The course is structured chronologically, focussing on particular themes for each period: religion and heresy in late antiquity; warfare and the arts in middle Byzantium; and politics and international relations in late Byzantium. In an average week you’ll spend around three hours in lectures and seminars on this module.
Serbian and Croatian Cinema

This module focuses on the representation of Balkan Roma in Serbian and Croatian cinema. It examines the ways in which the themes, motifs and narrative structures of films combine to produce semantically complex interfaces through which they also reflect the cultural circumstances of their production. The films examined include feature films and documentaries. Students learn to apply theories from film studies (montage, framing and acting) and cultural theory (including postcolonialism and trauma studies) and also learn about Romani life and culture.

Serbian/Croatian for Linguists
This module is a fast-track course of study for students in their final year who wish to acquire a new language. The module is based on the textbook Teach Yourself Serbian and will introduce you to everyday use of the language. Through three hours of practical classes each week, you’ll study different points of grammar (syntax and morphology) as well as vocabulary for everyday situations.
Slovene for Linguists

This module is a fast-track course of study for students in their final year who wish to acquire a new language. It develops aural comprehension and oral communication based on information acquired, and enables students to translate simple texts from and into Slovene. The module is taught by a native speaker and is based on a textbook, supported by additional materials. 


Dissertation/Long Essay in Russian and Slavonic Studies

Working closely with a supervisor who teaches and researches in a relevant field, final year students carry out in-depth research into a topic of their choice, building on work they have done in a module studied in year 2 or the final year. Areas of study include history, literature, cinema, music and religion. Recent topics selected for Long Essays and Dissertations include Mongol rule in medieval Russia, the poetic mythology of Mayakovsky and adaptations of US comedies for Russian television.   


Communicating and Teaching Languages for Undergraduate Ambassadors

This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools as teaching assistants and to act as role-models (for more information please check Students split their time between the university-based support seminar and their allocated school, where they will work in the language department as an assistant. This may involve one-to-one tuition, small group teaching or extra-curricular activities in the context of the school’s language provision. Students will develop a special teaching project and will be supported in their activities by the module convenor, the education specialist on campus, and their contact teacher at the school. Typically there will be a fortnightly seminar on campus and 7 half-days spent at school.  


Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853-1878

This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the nineteenth century as the world of the samurai was confronted by Western expansion and the Age of Steam. It explores the forces at work in Japan’s rapid transformation from an 'ancient regime' under the rule of the Shogun into a 'modern' imperial power. Original documents examined in class draw on the growing range of Japanese primary sources available in English translation, together with the extensive works of Victorian diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other foreign residents in the treaty ports.


Cultures of Power and the Power of Culture in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

In the two decades after the First World War, two modern western European countries, Italy and Germany, were transformed from liberal, parliamentary democracies into fascist dictatorships. Historians have offered detailed accounts of the political machinations that made this transition possible. Yet recent historical research has been led by different questions: what reconciled so many ‘ordinary people’ to the anti-democratic, illiberal and increasingly murderous policies upon which these regimes embarked? This course explores how fascism transformed ordinary life, and how culture was employed to translate fascist ideas into lived experience.


The War of the Roses

The mid-fifteenth century was a period of intense political turmoil, eventually leading to civil strife. The module examines the causes of the conflict, focusing initially on the failure of Henry VI’s kingship, before considering the failure of the political community – in the absence of a functioning king – to establish consensus in government during the 1450s. We then consider the attempts at reconstruction under Edward IV in face of continuing political instability and challenges to royal authority. To complement the seminars, the lectures will address related issues such as international relations and the role of magnates and the gentry, as well as wider themes such as the role of powerful women during this period and the nature of warfare.

The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.


Year abroad

The third academic year is spent abroad in Russia. You can either:

  • study at one of our partner universities or
  • study at a language school.

If you are taking a second Slavonic language, you will be able to divide your time to cover the countries of both languages.

For more information, see our Year Abroad page.



You will graduate with in-depth knowledge and understanding of Russia, a nation that plays a vital role on the global stage, together with high-level linguistic, analytical and presentation skills which will equip you for a range of careers. You will also have thorough training in the theories and techniques used by historians. Your time in Russia will demonstrate your flexibility and ability to adapt to new environments and challenges to potential employers.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2014, 86% of first-degree graduates in Russian and Slavonic studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £23,375 with the highest being £50,000.*

In 2014, 95% of first-degree graduates in the Department of History who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,221 with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2013/14.

Careers support and advice


Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course contains a period of study or work abroad between the second and final year of the degree programme. Students' language skills and cultural understanding are assessed through a mix of presentations and written assignments upon their return to Nottingham.

This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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