Scholars and students have pursued Russian and East European Studies at Oxford University since the founding of a centre for Soviet studies in St Antony’s College in 1953. That scholarly group, now the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre in St Antony’s, counted among its associates Sir Isaiah Berlin, Max Hayward, Harold Shukman, Michael Kaser, Archie Brown, Alex Pravda, Carol Leonard, and Robert Service. In 1983, Kaser, Brown, and Pravda participated in a seminar on the Soviet Union with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, persuading her to invite Mikhail Gorbachev to visit Britain the following year.
In the 1990s and early 2000s academics from this centre and across the University developed a modern programme of interdisciplinary graduate training in Russian and East European Studies (REES). The new REES programme was directed by Oxford’s area studies department, now the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA).
With a nine-month MSc and a twenty-one month MPhil in Russian and East European Studies, the REES programmes welcome high-quality graduates from a range of social science and humanities disciplines who wish to deepen their knowledge of the region. The interdisciplinary core courses give you an area-specific foundation in disciplines that may be new to you, and the OSGA Research Methods training develops your understanding of social science and humanities research techniques, preparing you to embark on your own research. Russian language training is integral to the MPhil and the department has a flourishing Georgian language programme. The Russian-language library serves REES students as well as a state-of-the-art Social Sciences Library. The REES Press Group meets weekly discussing current issues in the region’s media. The capstone of the programme is a Master’s Thesis, in which you conduct a research project under the direction of a supervisor from the REES team of academics.
The REES Masters programmes are accompanied by seminars, workshops, and conferences that develop and disseminate the latest thinking on Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe. The REES Programme Seminar series hosts a wide variety of speakers at the weekly events. In additon to these seminars, the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre (RESC) in St Antony’s College host the Monday Seminar series which have run continuously since 1953. Both these seminar series showcase visiting international and UK scholars of the REES regions. REES students attending these seminars are encouraged to question the speakers during and after the event. REES students are also welcome at our Georgian Programme events, and at the seminars of SEESOX, South Eastern Europe Studies at Oxford. Recent REES conferences have discussed the Russian economy, Ukraine in flux, LGBT rights in Eurasia, Central Asian politics, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich and former senior While House official and diplomat Michael McFaul have been recent speakers in our programme. As well REES students have access to the rich variety of seminars and events in OSGA’s other global area centres, and the wider University.
Each year we invite REES Alumni to speak to current students about their careers, to supplement the excellent career development resources of the University of Oxford. Graduates of the REES MSc and MPhil go on to careers in the media, finance, government and diplomacy, non-governmental organisations, and academe, with many choosing to continue study at the doctoral level.