Not available in 2021/22
GV320      Half Unit

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Francisco Panizza


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course is capped at two groups. 

Course content

The course studies populism from a conceptual and comparative perspective. Given the highly contested nature of populism, the first weeks will look in depth to different theories of populism, including ideational, strategic and performative understandings of populism. It will then move to explore the socio cultural and economic conditions of emergence of populism, the relation between populism and democracy and the relations between populism, political systems and popular movements. The last three lectures will seek to apply the conceptual tools presented in the first part of the course to regional and country case studies.

Among the topics to be explored are: what do we talk about when we talk about populism? Populism as a "thin ideology" and as a political strategy; populism as a mode of political identification; the cultural and socio-economic causes of populism; populism and democracy; populism and political systems; populism and grassroots movements; and varieties of populism across different regions of the world.


This course provides a combination of classes and lectures totalling 25 hours in the Lent term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and classes. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the LT.

Formative coursework

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

Formative coursework:

One essay to be submitted on week 7 of the 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

Essential Readings

Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul Taggat, Pierre Ostiguy and Paulina Ochoa- Espejo (eds). Oxford Handbook on Populism. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2017.

K. A. Hawkins, R. E. Carlin, L. Littway and C. Rovira Kaltwasser, The Ideational Approach to Populism, London: Routledge, 2018.

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, Cultural Backlash. Trump, Brexit and Authoritarian Populism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, London: Pelican, 2018.

Francisco Panizza (Ed) Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. London: Verso 1995.

Additional Readings

C. de la Torre (ed) The Promise and Perils of Populism:  Lexington, Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Carlos de la Torre and Cynthia J. Arnson (eds.) Latin American Populism in the Twenty-First Century. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2013.

Michael Kazin. The Populist Persuasion. An American History. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Benjamin Moffitt. The Global Rise of Populism.  Performance, Political Style and Representation. Stamford Ca.: Stamford University Press, 2016.

Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser (eds.) Populism in Europe and the Americas. Threat or Corrective to Democracy? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Cass Mudde and Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser. Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press 2017.

Jan-Werner Müller. What is Populism? Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.


Presentation (10%) in the LT.
Essay (90%, 3500 words) in the ST.

The essay will be marked in line with departmental guidance on assessed essays. This will allow for a scale of outcomes in line with different levels of academic outputs. It will be marked for  command of the literature,  theories and empirical findings, analytical sophistication,  use of evidence, critical judgement and originality. The individual class presentations will take the form of a 15 minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of questioning from both the class and the teacher. Particular value will be placed on the ability to present contending arguments in a clear and balanced way, the use of empirical evidence to support arguments and the capacity to raise relevant questions for class discussion.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
First 28.8
2:1 62.7
2:2 6.8
Third 0
Fail 1.7

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: 31

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Capped 2020/21: Yes (30)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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