Fall 2023 - IS 304 D100

Russian Foreign and Security Policies (4)

Class Number: 4539

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.
    Location: TBA

  • Instructor:

    Nicole Jackson
    1 778 782-8424
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units. Recommended: IS 200 and HIST 335.



Introduces the Russian Federation's foreign and security policies. Reviews key actors, institutions, and stages in the development of Russian foreign policy development as well as the gap between rhetoric and realities in Russian foreign policy.


This course is designed to develop student expertise on the evolution of post-Soviet Russian Federation’s foreign policy, that is Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. We will begin with an overview of how scholars study the subject of ‘foreign policy analysis’ and the multiple dimensions “power”, followed by brief examination of the historical roots of Russian foreign policy and then an analysis of domestic politics and the making of Russian foreign and security policies.  Key issues, debates and practices in Russian foreign policy will be explored, and the evolution of different types of Russian influence – ideational, soft, hard and “practical” – will be highlighted.  Students will be encouraged to explore Russian policy thinking and action towards specific issues in key regions which may include Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Asia, Europe, Canada, and the US.


The course aims to familiarize students with the principal alternative approaches to Russian foreign policy analysis, and to consider what kinds of power and influence Russia possesses in different regions. By the end of the course, students will be able to carefully assess whether, how and why Russian power and influence have evolved in different regions since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Second, students will have learnt how to critically participate in and contribute to contemporary debates about Russian foreign policy and foreign policymaking using theoretically informed empirical analysis. This will be assessed in oral and written format, and thus help students to hone these key skills. Third, students will have developed and defended their own critical study of a chosen issue in Russian foreign policy. By the end of the course, students will be able to critique the concept of power, situate their own evidence-based arguments within the academic literature and outline, and defend pragmatic policy options.


  • Participation including in class oral presentations and class discussion, as well as contributions on class website 30%
  • Mid-term Test 30%
  • Research Essay 40%


Each class will consist of an introductory lecture followed by seminar work, presentations, group work and debates. Alternative formats may be deployed as this course will be online for the first time. This course has a very heavy reading load and students are expected to have at minimum read each week’s required readings. Please also note that this is an undergraduate course but that graduate students may also be in the class. Graduate students will be required to do extra readings and will have extra writing requirements and assignments.

Essays for undergraduate will be 12-15 pages and for graduate students 15-20 pages.



Andrey Tsygankov, Russia’s Foreign Policy, Rowman and Littlefield Publishes, 2016

Richard Sakwa, Henry E Hale and Stephen White, eds, Developments in Russian Politics 9, 2019


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.