As my guys have attempted the following essay, it seems timely to post a possible plan.
To what extent is it correct to suggest that the treatment of Russia’s peasants was uniformly bleak in the period 1855 to 1964 ?
Introduction – Attack the two key terms in the question.
1. Synoptically highlight that the questions is correct – bleakness is the dominant theme (use famines early on to show you understand how to write synoptically). You might like to make the point here that at the start of the course serfdom did create a situation close to uniform bleakness (a good way to use serfdom at last).
2. Moments of Reform – again some quantitative judgement. This is where I would put my thought about the gains only being for the kulaks / NEPmen at times.
3. Periods of slow decline – Esp – the Mir / Land Captains compared to the post-Virgin lands decline of Khrushchev.
4. Periods of sharp decline – This would allow you consider Collectivisation in a comparative way with War Communism and the Wars.
Powerful conclusion that returns to the two key terms. Which has greater validity ? Why
Having just marked your first proper essays it is clear that you know an awful lot about agriculture and the peasants. Perhaps unsurprisingly however you have found your first attempt at applying this knowledge to the synoptic mark scheme demanding. As such, in a reckless moment I thought thta I would have a go myself under timed and examination conditions. I have to say it was tougher than I remember, but please find attached a “warts and all” answer. I hope that despite whatever slips you can find, you should see how I have;
1. Tied my comments back to the key terms.
2. Tried to compare and contrast throughout.