Courses in Moscow

During their first semester at the School in Russia, participants take four courses. For most students, this consists of one core course and three electives.

The core course, "The Russian Language," includes Russian grammar and Russian oral speech practice. For the grammar component, students are divided into groups according to language levels.

Middlebury Courses

For the fall 2018 semester, the following courses are offered:

I. Russian Language

The course consists of Advanced Russian Grammar classes twice a week at RGGU Russian as a Foreign Language Center (RFL) and Oral Speech Master Class at Shchukin Theatre Institute once a week.

Advanced Russian Grammar consists of intensive classes covering a wide range of grammar nuances. The classes allow students to polish their grammar skills and work on their writing. Classes of different language proficiency are offered for the students.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, all work submitted in a timely manner, active participation.

Oral Speech Master Class is taught by a leading Professor of Acting and Stage Speech at Shchukin Institute. This unique class is a combination of breathing exercises and techniques on phonetics, accent and improving pronunciation. Designed specifically for students on our program, it helps to develop fluency and overcome fear of speaking Russian in academic environment as well as other settings.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, fitness attire and training shoes for every class, active participation.

II. Three epochs of Moscow: from ancient times to modern days

The course aims to study Moscow as the mirror of life in Russia. Moscow is a unique case study for any historian, architect or social studies scientist, since it is three different cities rolled into one: the "old city" with remnants of ancient history, Soviet dream city and Moscow post-perestroika - modern booming megalopolis. The course will explore how historical and social changes that Russia has seen, affected and transformed the look of the city and life of its residents. Students will learn more about various historical sites, analyze their former and newly acquired meanings and learn more about the people of Moscow, their political views, their religious and social backgrounds. Apart from lectures and class discussions, students will have to take part in excursions and lead their own projects while getting familiarized with the city and its residents.

Requirements: project submission at the end of the semester, active participation in class, no unexcused absences.

III. Social and political discourse in contemporary Russia

In this course students will be introduced to the most topical issues and trends in social, political and economic realms of life in contemporary Russia.  Divided into nine blocks, the course material covers topics from censorship in mass media to religious education in state schools. The course has its focus on developing Russian writing skills and expanding students’ vocabulary.  During the course, students will learn more about political views of Russian citizens and the language they use to express them; will get familiarized with works of leading journalists, politicians, culture experts; and will form opinions about main events of the past few years, analyze and compare sociopolitical situation in Russia and other countries and learn to engage in discussions.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, class discussion, written assignments.

IV. Russian History: From 17th to the beginning of the 20th century

This history course focuses on culture, traditions and most important events of Russian history from early 17th century until the end of Romanov dynasty in the beginning of the 20th century. Students will learn in detail about life in different social classes of Tsarist Russia and Russian Empire and get introduced to the key historical figures that were influencing the course of history. Lectures will be followed by discussions and museum tours. In order to emerge fully in the historical context, students will study historical documents and attend film screenings. Students will learn to interpret historical evidence and construct arguments using specific historical examples.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, film screenings, active participation, essay submission.

V. Creative Writing and Journalism

In this class, students learn reporting and writing basics with a hands-on approach. Students will be reporting about their life in Russia, current Moscow events and social events in Russia. With a short introduction to the history of journalism in Russia and characteristics of different journalistic forms, the class will focus on developing writing, speaking and listening skills. The instructor is both a professional instructor of Russian as a foreign language and a professional journalist. The course is thematically divided according to different publication forms and involves learning about each form in detail - structure and features. The class uses various materials -  literary texts, visual and audio materials. The course also has a flexible structure and will therefore be combined with other courses. Within the framework of the course, there will excursions to some of the significant places for Russian journalists (the House of Journalists, Zhurfak at Moscow State University, TASS building, etc.), as well as getting acquainted with other journalists.

VI. Heart of a dog by M. Bulgakov. Reading between the lines

A close reading of the novel followed by detailed discussions will allow students to apprehend the historical and literary contexts and thus to form their independent opinions on main problems and ideas of Bulgakov’s work. The novel follows traditions of such literary works like Faust by Goethe and Frankenstein by M. Shelley. The course offers an in-depth look into Soviet ideology and propaganda and touches eternal philosophical questions of human nature, society and responsibility.   

Requirements: no unexcused absences, reading the novel, active participation, final essay.


The electives offered to students vary from semester to semester and are determined based on students' academic disciplines and interests for that specific term.Some examples of electives that have been offered in previous semesters, and may be offered in future semesters include:

History of the USSR
Aspects of History and Civilization
History of Russian Literature
Courses on the literary works of N. Gogol, A. Chechov, M. Bulgakov, V. Shukshin, V. Vysotsky, etc.
Poetry of the Silver Age Period
Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Russian Politics
Language of Mass Media
Business Russian

All courses are taught in Russian and are exclusive to School in Russia participants. Instructors are selected from various departments of the host university. For language courses, students are divided into language level groups based on the results of a language placement test given prior to arrival in Russia, and on the results of interviews and testing on site. Russian Culture & Civilization and спецкурсы are not divided according to language level, but are taught to the group as a whole. Each class meets for two пары (four academic hours) per week and includes written and oral graded exercises.

Mainstream Courses

Students of advanced-level Russian may choose to pursue one or more classes in the regular departments of RGGU, Higher School of Economics (HSE) or the Shchukin Theater Institute in place of any of the standard School in Russia courses.

RGGU and HSE offer a great variety of courses in the Humanities and Social Science, including History and Politics, International Relations, Journalism/Mass media,  Literature, Linguistics, Social and Economic Studies, Law, Psychology. 

HSE also offers courses in the area of Computer Science, Math, Finances; and RGGU has courses of Archival and Museum Studies.

The Shchukin Theater Institute has a set of professional acting and performing classes, but even those students who are not interested in pursuing a professional career in theater often take Stage Speech and Stage Movement classes.