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Short essay topics

Short essay topics


What motivated Volodymyr the Great to Christianise his kingdom?

To what extent was the ‘baptism of Rus’’ a ‘civilisational choice’ (Putin)?

What does the marriage policy of the early (9th to 12th centuries) Kyivan rulers tell us about the position of the Rus’ in the European political landscape?

To what extent was the Rus’ a Viking state?

Which nations consider themselves the ‘antemurale Christianiatis’ and which nation – if any – is it?

To what extent was Mongol rule a ‘yoke’?

What influences shaped the political ideology of the Tsardom of Muscovy?

What impact did the Reformation have on Poland-Lithuania and the Ukrainian lands?

Why was there a Kyivan Renaissance but not a Moscow ‘Renaissance’?

What was the status of Cossacks in the Polish-Ukrainian Commonwealth?

Why did Cossacks revolt?

Assess the different interpretations of the Treaty of Pereyaslav of 1654.

Assess different views of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

To what extent can Cossack society be classified as ‘frontier society’ (Frederick Jackson Turner)?

Why did so many Cossacks in 1709 continue to fight for the Russia Empire?

What role does the Ottoman Empire play in the history of Ukraine?

To what extent can Polish rule in Ukrainian lands in the early modern period be called ‘colonial’?

Is there any difference in the status of women in early modern Russia, Poland and the Hetmanate?

To what extent were the partitions of Poland the result of great power rivalry?

To what extent did the partitions of Poland expose the political bankruptcy of its political elite – the nobility?

When did Poland stop being the 'noble nation'?

Compare the peasant economy in 18th and 19th century Ukraine and Russia.

To what extent was Russian and Soviet policy in Ukraine ‘modernising’?

To what extent is the term ‘New Russia’ for Southern Ukraine a misleading term?

What did the 19th and 20th century Ukrainian national movement see as the main differences between Russians and Ukrainians?

To what extent was Ukraine being part of the Russian Empire a colonial experience?

To what extent were the Ukrainian Cossacks participating in the conquest of Siberia ‘colonizers’?

Is the term ‘traitors’ a useful term for members of the Ukrainian and/or Polish elite joining imperial service or embracing the Russian language?

To what extent did the late Russian imperial government pursue in Ukraine a nationalising policy?

Is Russia/was the Russian Empire part of Europe?

Why were so many pogroms in the late Russian Empire?

Why were so many pogroms between 1918 and 1920 in the Polish-Ukrainian-Russian borderlands?

To what extent is 19th and early 20th century Zionism a response to the ‘Spring of Nations’ in Europe?

To what extent have in 1910 peasants become Ukrainians, Poles or Russians? Discuss one example.

Why did Lithuanians in the 19th and early 20th century reject the offer of the Polish national movement to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth?


What do literature, music, and art tell us about national self-images and relations to other nations? Pick one or more pieces of 19th century Ukrainian, Russian or Polish literature, art or music. You may submit this either as an essay or as a power point presentation (with a total word length of max. 1500 words but with visual and/or musical examples). Adapt the title: For example: ‘What does Taras Shevchenko’s ‘Kobzar’ tell us about the role of the Cossacks in Ukrainian history?


Analyse a travel or visitor report of your choice of someone travelling through, working or living in Ukraine – from the early modern period to the present day. Assess how people in Ukraine are portrayed, how the authors reflect about differences between Ukrainians and others, how much these reports are framed and shaped by the previous knowledge, expectations and aims of the visitor etc.


Analyse a film of your choice about a Ukrainian topic. Analyse the context of the making of the film, the content, reception and reviews of the film in different countries. Use methods of film analysis.


Analyse the depiction of Ukrainian topics in paintings by Ukrainians an/or non-Ukrainians. Pick one or several examples (for example the depiction of Cossacks). Also look for the context of the making of the artwork, the artist, the buyer, where it is displayed, the reception, the ‘message’.


To what extent was Pushkin an apologist of empire (and anti-Polish and anti-Ukrainian?)

To what extent was the Russification policy in the late 19th century a break with how the Tsardom of Muscovy and the Russian Empire in the past had dealt with non-Russians?

What effect did the First World War and the wars for independence 1918 – 1921 have for Polish and Ukrainian nation building?

“Socialist in content and national in form”. How did the Bolsheviks try to solve the nationality problem of the Russian Empire?

Which role does the Second World War play in Polish, Ukrainian, or Russian memorial culture?

How do Polish, Ukrainian or Russian society remember the Holocaust?

To what extent does it still make sense to differentiate in Ukraine between Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers?

What role does history play in today's Russia, Poland or Ukraine?

When did Ukraine become a nation?

Analyse Polish discourses about Ukraine from 1900 to the present? You may focus on one specific period or one specific subtopic.

Analyse Russian discourses about Ukraine from 1900 to the present? You may focus on one specific period or one specific subtopic.

What role does the North-American Ukrainian diaspora play in shaping post-independent Ukraine?

What role does Crimea play in today’s Russian historical narrative?

Why do the majority of Crimean Tatars prefer Crimea to be part of Ukraine?

What was the relationship between the Soviet dissident movement in Russia and in Ukraine?

Why did Ukraine after independence become a liberal democracy while Russia developed into a dictatorship?

Compare the censorship and media policy in Russia and in Ukraine since 24 February 2022?

Assess the policy towards minorities and (non-Ukrainian) other languages in contemporary Ukraine?

Assess the role of the Polish Institute of National Memory in Polish History policy?

Assess the role of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory in Ukrainian History policy?

Why did Putin close Memorial?

To what extent was Ukraine still in 2012 a ‘divided country’?

What impact do the ‘Volhynian massacres’ have on Polish-Ukrainian relations?

Why does the European Union support Ukraine?

To what extent did Putin and the Russian elite feel threatened by Eastern European countries joining NATO?

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?