GV4J9      Half Unit

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Francisco Panizza


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is capped at two groups. It will be made available as an outside option to students in the MSc programme in Conflict Studies and the MSc programme in Global Politics.

The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 1 October 2019. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 2 October 2019.


Course content

The course aims at bringing together the conceptual analysis of populism with comparative case studies in different regions of the world.It studies populism from a conceptual, theoretical and comparative perspective.  Given the highly contested nature of populism, the first weeks will look in depth to different theories of populism, including institutional, ideological, discursive and socio-cultural understandings of populism.  It will then move to explore the conditions of emergence of populism and the relations between populism and key political concepts, such as democracy and political participation. The second half of the course will seek to apply the conceptual tools presented in the first half of the course to regional case studies.

Among the topics to be explored are:What do we talk about when we talk about populism? Populism as a "thin ideology". Populism as a mode of identification. The socio-economic dimensions of populism. The conditions of emergence of populism.  Populism, democracy and political participation. Populism in Europe. Populism in the USA. Populism in Latin America.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Week 6 will be a reading week.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

One essay to be submitted in LT. The formative essay will offer an outline of the final essay- including key indicative  reading. The feedback will be used in two ways: 1) to guide students' critical thinking in line with course learning outcomes; 2) to guide students on the key aspect of formatting an academic argument using literature and critical debate. Students will also be encouraged to reflect upon their learning from the presentation and use this to refine their summative essay.

Indicative reading

Priority Readings

  • Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul Taggat, Pierre Ostiguy and Paulina Ochoa-Espejo (eds.) Oxford Handbook on Populism Oxford,: Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • Canovan, M. “Trust the People”. Populism and the two faces of democracy. Political Studies 47 (11) 1999
  • Michael Kazin. The Populist Persuasion. An American History. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1998
  • Ernesto Laclau. On Populism Reason, London: Verso, 2005
  • Benjamin Moffitt.  The Global Rise of Populism.  Performance, Political Style and Representation. Stamford Ca.: Stamford University Press, 2016.
  • Chantal Mouffe. “The End of Politics” and the Challenge of Right-wing Populism” in F. Panizza (edt.) Populism and the Mirror of Democracy, London: Verso 2005.
  • Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser (eds.) Populism in Europe and the Americas. Threat or Corrective to Democracy?  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Further Readings

  • B. Bakker, M. Rooduijn and G. Schumacher “The Psychological Roots of Populist Voting: Evidence from the United States, the Netherlands and Germany. European Journal of Political Research, 55 (2016)
  • Luigi Guiso, Helios Herrea Massimo Morelli and Tommaso Sonno, Demand and Supply of Populism. February 15, 2017  available at  http://www.heliosherrera.com/populism.pdf.
  • Jan-Werner Müller. What is Populism?  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.
  • Yannnis Stavrakakis and Giorgios Katsambekis (2014) “Left-wing Populism in the European Periphery- The Case of Syriza” Journal of Political Ideologies 19 (2) 2014.


Essay (90%, 4000 words) in the ST.
In class assessment (10%) in the LT.

The in-class assessment (10%) consists of a student-led seminar based on a presentation of 15-20 minutes, followed by a structured discussion of the issues raised by the lecture and the presentation.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 31

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills