History: Russia - From Peter I to the Revolution

Ref: C3739728

In the 18th century the two great rulers, Peter I and Catherine II, sought to transform Russia into a modern European state. We will look at how this came about, and the ensuing great struggle between reform and reaction in the 19th century.

Additional information about this course

*Reading courses bookable from 1st July 2016* Half term: 30/5/2017.

Course aim

To describe and explain the changes in Russian society from the reign of Peter I onwards, the expansion of the Russian empire, and the questions these raised about Russian national identity.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The condition of Russia in the late 17th century; the expansion of Russian rule in Europe and Asia; the reforms of Peter and Catherine; Alexander I and the struggle with Napoleon. the flowering of Russian literature and culture in the 19th century; the reforms of Alexander II; the path to revolution before 1917.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Describe the changes introduced by Peter and Catherine and assess their effects. 2. Describe the effects of Russia's defeat of Napoleon on her self-image. 3. Analyse and explain the movements towards reaction and reform in later 19th century Russia.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Discussion, question and answer, both formal and informal, will make up a part of each session. Suggestions will also be made about further reading and other sources of information.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?


Reading and information sources

There is no essential reading, but the following books may be useful: Geoffrey Hosking: Russia and the Russians, 2001 David Warnes, Chronicle of the Russian Tsars, 1999

What could the course lead to?

Further WEA courses on history.

Download full course outline

History: Russia - From Peter I to the Revolution Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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