SO4C1      Half Unit
Fascism, Authoritarianism, Populism

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Chetan Bhatt STC S107


This course is available on the MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is available as an outside option for other Masters students, with permission and depending on the availability of spaces.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement. Priority will be given to students on the MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

In this course, we examine the global rise over the last decade of authoritarian populist, neo-fascist, neo-Nazi and ethno-supremacist movements, leaders and states, and we consider the threats they pose for international human rights.  The course is international in scope and subject matter. Its approach is interdisciplinary, and we will be drawing on political, sociological and philosophical disciplines during the course.  We will cover key developments in Eastern and Western Europe, North and South America, India, the Philippines and other regions.  We will look at older and contemporary academic debates about the nature of populism and fascism.  The course aims to move beyond the conceptual limitations of many recent academic debates, and you will have an opportunity to apply new and developing conceptual frameworks to understand particular far-right phenomenon. In addition to country and regional case studies, we will cover a range of themes, including: the nature of authoritarian populism in the West and the Global South; the international organization of neo-Nazism and neo-Fascism (including the ‘alt right’, the ‘alt lite’, QAnon, the European New Right and the counterjihad movement); authoritarian populist governance in Brazil, India and the Philippines; new media and the transformation of political communication; knowledge and truth in authoritarian populist discourse; the assaults on minorities; and the consequences for political liberalism, democracy and international human rights.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and online materials, totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the LT. Teaching arrangements may be adjusted if online teaching is required at any point.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One 500 word essay outline based on an essay title chosen from a set list of questions; and one 500 word project outline of the project topic and case study.  Both are to be handed in during the middle of the term in which the course is taught.  Feedback on formative work will be provided in individual face to face meetings in written and verbal form; general formative feedback will also be provided during seminars.

Indicative reading

  • Werner-Muller, J. (2017), What is Populism?, Penguin.
  • Mudde, C. ed. (2016), The Populist Radical Right, Routledge.
  • Heydarian, Richard (2017), The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt against Elite Democracy, Palgrave.
  • Kendzior, Sarah (2020), Hiding in Plain Sight: the invention of Donald Trump and the erosion of America, Flatiron.
  • Gudavarthy, Ajay (2018), India After Modi: Populism and the Right, Bloomsbury.
  • Smith, Terry (2020), Whitelash: unmasking white grievance at the ballot box, Cambridge University Press.
  • Foley, Conor (2019), In Spite of You: Bolsonaro and the New Brazilian Resistance, OR Books.
  • Snyder, Timothy (2017), On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Bodley Head.
  • Berezin, Mabel (2009), Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: culture, security and populism in the new Europe, Cambridge University Press.
  • Chatterjee, Partha (2019), I Am the People: Reflections on Popular Sovereignty Today, Columbia University Press.


Essay (50%, 2000 words) and project (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Two summative assessments weighted at 50% each.  The first assessment is a 2,000 word essay chosen from a set of questions. The second assessment is a 3,000 word project that you will undertake independently, with guidance from the course teacher. The project is an application of ideas, concepts and content from across the course to an analysis of a specific contemporary or historical case, event, theme or visual material.  The case or example is agreed in advance with the course convenor. The content of the project has to be different, both in substance and in the cases and examples used, from that of the essay. Detailed guidance on what makes for a strong project and the main criteria for its assessment will be provided to you during the course.

  • An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the second Wednesday in ST.
  • An electronic copy of the assessed project, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the second Wednesday in ST.

Attendance at all seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

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.

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: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication