Preparation for Russian ab initio

If you would like to apply for History and Modern Languages with Russian from scratch (or Russian ab initio as we call it here) as your preferred language, then we will welcome your application whether or not you are studying a foreign language for A level, IB Higher or equivalent.

For students who are not studying a foreign language at school, we realise that it can be difficult to know how to prepare for the Russian language side of your application. This page provides some preparation recommendations to give you some experience with the Russian language in particular. We strongly recommend that you give some time and thought to what learning Russian will involve by doing some independent study to introduce yourself to the language, as Russian is a challenging language and requires dedication to learn.

The suggestions and links below should help you to make sure that Russian ab initio is the right choice for you, and to develop your language interests for a strong application. Of course, please feel free to use other books and resources as well if there are other materials that you find helpful - none of this is compulsory.


Basics of Russian Grammar

We recommend the first six lessons of the ab initio course textbook, Colloquial Russian by Susan E. Kay and Svetlana Le Fleming (Routledge, 2009 or later editions). The course includes paperback and audio materials available separately. Exercises to help you learn vocabulary from the first six units are available from Quizlet:

Russian History, Literature and Culture

If you are not sure where to start, you may like to choose according to your interests from this list:

  • G Hosking, Russian History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012)

  • S Lovell, The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2008)

  • Chapters 3 and 4 of C Emerson, The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature (Cambridge, 2008)

  • Russian Literature suggestions to be read in English:

    • Alexander Pushkin, ‘Медный всадник’ [The Bronze Horseman]

    • Ivan Turgenev, ‘Свидание’ [The Encounter] and ‘Касьян с красивой мечи’ [Kas’ian from the Beautiful Lands] from A Huntsman's Sketches

    • Nikolai Gogol, ‘Шинель’ [The Overcoat]

    • Anna Akhmatova, Rekviem

All the information and documents you need if you've already been accepted for an undergraduate place at King's.
You are strongly advised to read these documents which form part of the terms of admission referred to in your offer letter.

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