The range and flexibility of the Oxford course provide opportunities for rewarding study which might include, for example, Tolstoy's and Dostoevsky's novels, Pushkin's poetry, or the latest writing from contemporary Russia; the history of the Russian language and its development up to the present day; material from the Russia of Ivan the Terrible or Peter the Great or Stalin; related topics in film, the visual arts and music. The quality and range of research undertaken by the teaching staff at Oxford was recognised in the award of a top-ranking 5* grade in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise; the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction was awarded to Dr T.J. Binyon's authoritative biography of Pushkin in June 2003. These recordings form a 45-minute unscripted discussion between three participants, two female and one male, all of whom are native speakers of Russian. The content concerns Oxford University, Russian literature and history and other subjects. No transcript of the discussion is provided since we assume that students will have no prior knowledge of the alphabet, spelling, grammar and syntax of the language. We recommend that you listen to the entire discussion once a week in order to get your ear used to the sounds, rhythm and intonation of the language. You may begin to recognise the pronunciation of some words and phrases through repetition, and it may also be that you will notice a few lexical borrowings from English. Please do not attempt to repeat the words for yourselves, since the active pronunciation of Russian sounds will be taught later. The pronunciation, grammar, syntax and vocabulary of Russian will be presented to you in a methodical way when you begin the Ab Initio Course in October, and advance listening to these recordings is not intended to anticipate or to replace the later process of learning.