Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitPolitics and International Relations
OfferedClayton First semester 2015 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Associate Professor Peter Lentini


The subject examines the domestic politics of Russia and United States. Both countries are two of the most powerful and influential countries within the Asia-Pacific region and globally. Developing knowledge of Russian and American politics and societies, students will enhance their understanding of the dynamics of governing ethnically and religiously diverse societies with many competing-and at times sharply antagonistic-interests, and countries with substantial military and economic prowess. The unit closely analyses both countries' political cultures, electoral politics, political institutions and contemporary social issues (i.e., debates over gender and minority rights), and struggles with extremism and terrorism. Notably, the subject addresseses the extent to which Russia's conception of 'Sovereign Democracy' and the US' 'American Exceptionalism' influence how Russian and American citizens (and politicians) view themselves and their countries' status in the world, and if this makes them unique as powerful states, or whether their political behaviour and sense of national identity and destiny are common amongst modern nation-states. Upon completing the subject, students should have also developed a nuanced grasp of the broader field of comparative politics, and its main conceptual approaches and interpretive frameworks-to complement their knowledge of Russian and US politics.


  1. Develop new understandings of how:
    1. the world's two most powerful countries govern and manage their polities and societies, how major societal actors seek to influence political agendas in those states, and what major challenges these countries confront.
    2. the politics and political cultures of these two very powerful states compare and contrast with those of other modern nation-states;
  2. Develop an intermediate level of understanding of various forms of political, social and religious thought and activism;
  3. Develop an intermediate level of understanding of various forms of identity-based politics and the dynamics of ethnic and religious diversity in two different political cultures;
  4. Develop an intermediate-level understanding of the field of comparative politics and some of its most significant conceptual approaches and interpretive frameworks;
  5. Develop skills to read various forms of text critically (audio-visual materials, scholarly literature, official documents, internet sources) and incorporate them in their assessed work;
  6. Continue to develop critical skills and their abilities to communicate effectively. Specifically to:
    1. develop a topic for investigation;
    2. familiarise themselves with a wide range of sources;
    3. recognize and be able to present a logically ordered argument.


Within semester assessment: 55%
Exam: 45%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.