6. The Soviet Union and Russia: Essay frames and writing exercises
This page contains a variety of essay writing exercises and essay plans for this topic.
Essay practice: Introductions
Discuss the reasons why Stalin rather than Trotsky had become leader of the Soviet Union by 1929
Consider the following two introductions to this essay title.
In pairs decide what you like about each one. How would you improve each one?
Click on the eye to get examiner comments on the introductions and then write your own introduction to this essay.
After Lenin’s death in 1924, a power struggle surfaced which would last until 1929 ending with Joseph Stalin’s emergence as the sole leader of Russia. This incident can be seen as the result of a combination of both Stalin’s personal qualities and of mistakes made by his opponents. Numerous factors favoured Stalin in his political campaigns such as his vast power base in the Communist Party, his personal merits, the numerous mistakes made by his opposition, and his frequent strokes of luck. This essay will describe how Stalin exploited these elements in order to achieve his ultimate goal – leadership of the Party.
In 1924, Lenin died and within two years Stalin was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union with all opposition to him crushed. This previously unregarded Secretary, with seemingly no outstanding qualities had come out on top in a tense power struggle involving some of the greatest Russian intellects at the time. So how did ‘comrade card-index’ become one of the most feared men in the entire world, taking control of the second greatest super-power at the time, when his fellow party members though him little more than clerk? With hindsight, and the benefits of several perspectives into the matter, we can see that although helped greatly by the incompetence of his rivals, and benefiting surprising luck, Stalin demonstrated great political skill and cunning, in the power struggle for Lenin’s position of leader.
Introductions exercise: Discuss the reasons why Stalin rather than Trotsky had become leader of the Soviet Union by 1929
In pairs, plan out the following essay. Click on the eye for hints. There is also a PDF version of the frame below.
To what extent did Stalin’s domestic policies strengthen the USSR between 1928 and 1941?
The following task is to help develop students' understanding of what makes a good introduction and what makes good paragraphs. The paragraphs can be seen by clicking on the eye The exercise is as a PDF worksheet below as well.
Essay practice: introductions, paragraphs, conclusions
Consider the following essay question:
To what extent should Stalin’s economic policies be considered a success for the Soviet Union?
Below you will find an introduction and a series of paragraphs for this essay question (written by different students)
Look at the introduction
1. Which bit of this introduction gives contextual background to the question? (highlight in one colour. Is there enough background – is there anything you would add or change?)
2. Where does the introduction link directly to the question to show the reader that they are going to be specifically answering this question? (highlight in a different colour)
Now look at paragraphs 1, 2 and 3
1. Highlight the opening sentences to these paragraphs.
Do they act as a ‘signpost’ for the rest of the paragraph? (i.e. can you tell what the paragraph is going to be about?) Do they link back to the wording of the question?
2. Do the paragraphs give detailed evidence to support the argument made in the opening sentence? Give examples
3. Is too much detail given as evidence in places or is it too generalised/inaccurate? Are there statistics to support judgements on the economy? Are historians' views included? Highlight any issues with the evidence
4. Does the final sentence of each paragraph come back to the question and restate the argument being made?
Now look at the conclusion
5. Does it come back to the question and answer it?
The following task is to get students to consider different approaches to the same question.
Task Four: Essay Frame
Consider the following essay question and the approach given here. Can you think of an alternative approach to structuring this question?
Discuss the impact of Stalin’s domestic policies on the USSR from 1929 to 195
Intro: Set up specific the specific economic, political and social policy aims of Stalin. Set out parameters re. ‘impact’ on USSR
Paragraph One Economic aims; methods & policies Success: positive impact
Paragraph Two Political aims; methods & policies Success: positive impact
Paragraph Three Social aims; methods & policies Success: positive impact
Paragraph Four Economic aims; methods & policies Failure: negative impact
Paragraph Five Political aims; methods & policies Failure: negative impact
Paragraph Six Social aims; methods & policies Failures: negative impact
Conclusion You need to address the specific essay question and answer it. What was the main impact of Stalin’s domestic policies on the USSR?
Click on the eye below for hints on what to consider regarding Stalin's aims and the areas of content that you could consider for this essay:
Task Five: Essay Frame
‘Khrushchev’s policies were a failure at home and abroad’ To what extent do you agree with this view?
Note that there is an essay frame this essay: Peaceful coexistence had failed by 1961 because the Soviet Union was not fully committed to it’ in this Paper 2 section on the Cold War: Rivalry, mistrust and accord: essay plans
Note that there is an graded essay on Gorbachev's role in ending the Cold War here: 2. Rivalry, mistrust and accord: Graded student examples