Spring 2021 - IS 808 G200

Special Topics in Governance and Conflict (4)

Russian Foreign Policies

Class Number: 5830

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 11 – Apr 16, 2021: Tue, 8:30–11:20 a.m.



This course is designed to develop student expertise on Russian Foreign Policy. 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, the Western CIS, the Caucasus, Asia, Europe, Canada, and the US.

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 undergraduate and graduate students are in this class. Graduate students will be required to do extra readings.


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. By the end of the course, students will be able to carefully assess whether, how and why Russian power and influence have evolved over time. Second, students will have learned how to critically participate in and contribute to contemporary debates about Russian foreign policy and foreign policy-making 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 prescriptions.


  • Participation including Zoom oral presentations and contributions on Canvas 20%
  • Research Essay 45%
  • Final Test 35%


(The final test will be done during the normal class schedule and not during exam time.) Essays for undergraduate will be 12-15 pages and for graduate students 15-20 pages.

Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



(These are ‘to be determined’ but will be available as e-books through the SFU library)
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

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).