AQA GCSE History: Russia, 1894–1945 – Tsardom and communism

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AC Russia, 1894–1945: Tsardom and communism

In this module, the development of Russia during a turbulent half-century of change is the key focus. As a period of autocracy and communism, from the fall of the Tsardom and the rise and consolidation of communism, students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in influencing change. They will also look at the role of key individuals and groups in shaping change and the impact the developments had on them. This module consists of three parts detailed below:

Part one: The end of Tsardom

Themes explored include:

  • Russia’s economy and society: industrialisation; living and working conditions in cities and villages.
  • Nicholas II’s autocracy and the court: the growth of revolutionary opposition; the 1905 Revolution and October Manifesto; the impact of, and reactions to, attempts to reform Russia up to 1914; the Dumas and political stalemate; Stolypin's policies – land reform, industry and use of oppression.
  • The First World War: the impact of military defeats on Tsarist government; social and economic effects of war on cities and the countryside; unpopularity of the Romanovs, including the role of Rasputin; the Tsar’s abdication.

Part two: Lenin's new society

Themes explored include:

  • The Provisional Government: its failure to deal with Russia's social, economic and military problems; Lenin and Trotsky; the growth of Bolshevik organisation; the October/November


  • The impact of Lenin's dictatorship: the end of the First World War; the Cheka; the Red Army; causes, nature and consequences of the Civil War and Bolshevik success; propaganda.
  • Social and economic developments: War Communism; the Kronstadt Rising; the New Economic Policy (NEP); the achievements of Lenin and Trotsky.

Part three: Stalin's USSR

Themes explored include:

  • Stalin the dictator: the power struggle to succeed Lenin; the control of the Communist party over the government; the Terror and the Purges; the army; secret police; labour camps; censorship; the cult of personality; propaganda.
  • Stalin's modernisation of the USSR: collectivisation; the Five Year Plans; social and economic consequences for Kulaks, city dwellers, women, professional and industrial workers; the extent of modernisation.
  • Impact of the Second World War: Stalin's wartime leadership; political, economic and social problems caused by the Great Patriotic War up to 1945.

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