The History of Ukraine

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
05 March 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The module offers the students an overview over the history of Ukraine from the Middle Ages until the Russian invasion of the country in February 2022.

The module will trace and discuss these dynamics of Ukrainian history in its relationship to Russia, but also to other European neighbours. It will do so from a scholarly point of view attempting to deconstruct the political and emotional narratives that dominate public discourses.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To respond to an assumed risen interest in the history of Ukraine given the recent developments.

  • To help put the ongoing war in Ukraine into the larger context.

  • To offer students the opportunity to learn more about an important aspect of Eastern Europe’s history.

  • To introduce the students to historical processes of nation-building under difficult circumstances.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge about the history of Ukraine.

  2. Explain the processes of nation-building in Ukraine.

  3. Discuss the emergence and development of national consciousness among Ukrainians.

  4. Read, interpret and discuss scholarly texts relating to Ukranian history.

  5. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Ukranian history by interpretating and discussing (in oral and written form) Ukranian primary sources (translated into English).

  6. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Ukranian history by writing historical essays.

Module information

After the destruction of the Kievan Rus in the Thirteenth Century, 'Ukraine' for the longest time in history was a multi-religious and multi-ethnic region between the empires of the Habsburgs, the Romanovs, and the Ottomans. 'Ukraine' literally means 'land at the fringe'.

The 'Ukrainians' were the South-Western Slavic peasant population scattered between different imperial authorities with little sense of communality, and after the creation of the 'Uniate Church' even without a common religion. Parts of Ukraine were controlled by Cossacks, multi-ethnic and multi-religious warrior communities exerting power in the vacuum of imperial rule.

From this Early Modern condition, it was a long way to the emergence of a Ukrainian nation and the development of national consciousness of those who were called Ukrainians. When this process was completed is a fiercely debated question. Ukrainian nation-building faced many obstacles and had actively been hampered by Tsarist Russia; it had initially been encouraged by the Soviet authorities in the 1920s.

This policy was reversed under Stalin up to an outright war of the Soviet state against the Ukrainian peasantry peaking in the 'Holodomor' of the early 1930s when millions of Ukrainians perished in the famine. Despite, or because of this a Ukrainian nation and a Ukrainian territory took shape in Soviet times and yielded an independent Ukraine after the Soviet collapse in 1991.

The entangled histories of Russia and Ukraine lend itself to very different interpretations inside and outside of Ukraine about who Ukrainians are and what Ukraine is as recent developments have demonstrated. Russia's war against Ukraine since 2014 put an end to hybrid answers to these questions and paved the way for radical and extreme ones. As often in history war proves to be a powerful force of nation-building.


  • Nations, nation states, nation-building – The Ukraine, Ukraine & the Ukrainians.

  • The Kievan Rus – Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages.

  • Peoples & religions: The Ukraine as a historical region between the empires.

  • Cossacks, Bohdan Chmelnickyi and the Day of Pereiaslav.

  • The Ukrainian national movement in the Nineteenth Century.

  • Austrian Galicia – the Ukrainian 'Piemont'.

  • The Ukrainian Revolution and the first Ukrainian state(s).

  • Ukraine and Ukrainians under Stalin.

  • Soviet Ukraine after Stalin until the Collapse.

  • Independent Ukraine between the West & Russia.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Lectures.
  • Seminars.

There are no specific teaching methods that would pose particular difficulties to disabled students.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Felix Schnell, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

Dr Miriam Dobson
University of Sheffield
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.