Not available in 2022/23
GV4J9      Half Unit

This information is for the 2022/23 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 29 September 2020. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.


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 cultural and socio-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 seminars 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 seminars. There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

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

  • C. Rovira Kaltwasser, P. Taggat, P. Ostiguy and P.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.
  • M. Canovan, M. “Trust the People”. Populism and the two faces of democracy. Political Studies 47 (11) 1999
  • M. Kazin. The Populist Persuasion. An American History. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1998
  • E. Laclau. On Populism Reason, London: Verso, 2005
  • C. Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser (eds.) Populism in Europe and the Americas. Threat or Corrective to Democracy?  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Further Readings

  • Benjamin Moffitt.  The Global Rise of Populism. Performance, Political Style and Representation. Stamford Ca.: Stamford University Press, 2016.
  • Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, London: Pelican, 2018
  • Chantal Mouffe. For a Left Populism, London: Verso 2018.C. de la Torre (ed) The Promise and Perils of Populism:  Lexington, Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 2015.
  • 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.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 34.1
Merit 61.2
Pass 4.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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