MPhil in Russian and East European Studies

MPhil in Russian and East European Studies


The MPhil in Russian and East European Studies is a two year programme for graduates who are interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of Russia and Eastern Europe through the study of the region across a range of disciplines. In the first year students will take 3 core courses on contemporary issues which will introduce them to the key issues and debates of the region.

In the second year students are able to specialise their knowledge through the choice of two option courses.

For general enquiries about the programme and options with the MPhil in REES please contact: For queries regarding admissions and applications, please contact:

Programme Details

Programme Details


The teaching on the MPhil programme in the first year of study is built around three Core Courses, a research methods course and Russian language classes. The first Core Course, delivered at the start of Michaelmas Term, examines the History of Russia, the USSR and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and is examined through an extended essay submitted in Hilary Term. The second and third core courses, spanning Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, address issues of Contemporary Russian and East European Studies (CREES) from different disciplinary perspectives: CREES I covers Politics and International Relations, while CREES II covers Economics and Sociology. Each of these two courses are formally assessed through end of year exams. The research methods training is split into two parts: Qualitative Methods (Michaelmas Term) and Quantitative Methods (Hilary Term) and is designed to give you a broad-ranging introduction to different research approaches which you may need to develop as you work on your research thesis.

In the second year of MPhil study Russian language classes will continue and students will chose from a range of option courses and take two of these, usually one course in Michaelmas Term and one course in Hilary Term. All students on the MPhil programme are required to write a research thesis of 30,000 words on a research topic of their choosing, which must  be relevant to the REES region. Supervision for this element of the programme runs throughout the two years of study, with a research proposal prepared in the Trinity Term of the first year and final submission close to the end of Trinity Term of the second year. Throughout the course, students are expected to attend the weekly programme of external seminars organised by REES or our partner Centre, based at St Antony’s – the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre (RESC). Details of the staff teaching on this programme and their research interests can be found here.


Students of the REES MPhil programme progress to a variety of different career pathways, including in government and diplomacy, business analytics, consultancy, banking and finance, NGOs, teaching and further research. With regard to the latter, Oxford's new DPhil in Area Studies, introduced in 2017, provides new opportunities for inter-disciplinary doctoral research across one or more of the regions in which the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies specialises.

Please address any enquiries concerning the MPhil in Russian and East European Studies to

Core Course 1

History of Russia, the USSR and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

This course explores several overlapping forces which shaped late Tsarist Russia, the USSR, and Eastern Europe during the twentieth century. Among other themes, it examines the political ideologies of Bolshevism and Nazism, great power ambitions which transformed the region during the two world wars and the Cold War, as well as cultural and intellectual trends behind imperialism and anti-colonialism in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. While the course traces major shifts in the USSR’s Russian heartlands, it places particular emphasis on identifying ways to frame the history of the region in ways that do not put Soviet politics and ideology at the centre. This course is taught through a combination of lectures and classes. Students are required to submit 2 essays for formative assessment.

Core Course 2

Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 1 – Politics and International Relations

This social sciences course evaluates major analytical perspectives on developments in the FSU and Eastern Europe since the end of Communism. The course covers political science and international relations disciplinary approaches and their applications. The course provides students with a solid grounding in theories on the domestic political and international dimensions of transition of the region, and sufficient empirical knowledge to test the arguments associated with different approaches. This course is taught through a combination of lectures and classes. Students are required to submit 2 formative essays for this course. 

Core Course 3

Contemporary Russian and East European Studies Part 2 - Sociology and Economics

This core course takes an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of the economies and society of contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe using methodological and theoretical approaches from Economics, Social Policy, Sociology, and Social Anthropology). It is designed to complement and augment the themes and issues introduced in the core course CREES Part 1 by examining the effects of socio­economic and political change on the economies and societies of Central-and Eastern Europe, as well their influence on the dynamics of cultural change in institutions and social groups across the region.

The course covers economic theories and concepts and their application in Central and Eastern Europe (e.g. stabilization, privatization, financial sector reform), social policy concepts and their application (e.g. health, income inequality, institutions), sociological and anthropological concepts and their application (e.g. class formation and disintegration, migration, gender relations). Students are required to submit 2 formative essays for this course. 

Research Methods
Qualitative Methods

The first methods module covers the principles of research design and approaches to collecting, managing and analysing qualitative data. Students are invited to explore the relationships between the social science disciplines and the empirical study of Russia/Eastern Europe and to reflect on strategies for integrating social science theory with the production of area-specific knowledge.  Different approaches to obtaining and analysing qualitative data are considered which include finding and analysing digital and archived sources, the collection and analysis of talk and texts, and case studies, comparative research design and ethnography. 

This course is taught through OSGA-wide lectures, supplemented by REES specific classes. Qualitative methods will be assessed by a take home exam due for submission in week 9 of Michaelmas Term.

Quantitative Methods

Students will develop the skills to understand and evaluate the quantitative statistics and statistical tests commonly used by authors in academic papers and official reports. Students will also develop the skills to carry out basic statistical tests of research hypothesis, including t-tests and simple regression analysis using the statistical software package R-Studio.

Through class exercises and assessed written work students will be required to obtain and demonstrate a general understanding of quantitative approaches to Area Studies research.

The course is taught through a combination of lectures, Quantitative Methods labs and classes. Students will be required to submit a take home assignment in statistical methods in Hilary Term as part of the assessment of this course.

Russian Language

Russian language is a compulsory part of the MPhil programme and we run classes from beginners’ level, through intermediate and advanced levels. In the latter case, the focus is very much on developing language related research tools and techniques appropriate for advanced research using Russian. In the former cases, we also progressively add a research dimension to the language learning while seeking to develop grammatical awareness and confidence with comprehension and speaking.

Contact hours are limited to no more than 2 hours per week and so self-study and further engagement/training during the summer break is required to progress to the required standard, while still allowing sufficient focus on the core components of the REES programme. 

All MPhil students are required to pass the Russian Qualifying Exam towards the end of Year 2 though the grade itself is not used to calculate the final degree classification.

Option Courses

List of Option Courses (subject to availability)

Central Asia and the South Caucasus: International Relations and Foreign Policies (Prof Allison) 

Ideology and Popular Culture in Socialist and Post-socialist Russia and Eastern Europe (Dr Makovicky)  

Islam in the USSR (Dr Wojnowski)

Post-Communist Cultures of Corruption: Practices, Institutions, Networks (Dr Makovicky) 

Russian International Relations and Foreign Policy (Prof Allison)

South East Europe: Politics, Economics and European Integration (Dr Anastasakis)

The Political Economy of Russia’s Transformation: From Plan to Market and Back? (Dr Rochlitz)








The thesis must be at least 25,000 words in length but must not exceed 30,000 words, excluding the bibliography and approved technical/methodological appendices which must be approved before submission by the REES Management Committee. Preparation and planning of the thesis must commence at the beginning of the programme in October and progress steadily through to submission of the thesis in Week 4 of Trinity Term in the second year.



Please see our scholarship page for details.