GV4J9      Half Unit

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Francisco Panizza


This course is available on the MSc in Political Science (Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics) and MSc in Political Science (Political Behaviour). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is capped at one group (it is controlled access), and so places are limited. Priority is given to students on the listed programmes; students from outside these listed programmes may not get a place.

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 conditions of emergence of populism, the relation between populism and democracy, varieties of populism and grassroots populist 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.


This course provides a combination of seminars and lectures totalling 30 hours in the Winter Term. There will be a reading week in WT Week 6.

Formative coursework

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

One short essay (approx. 500-700 words) to be submitted in Week 7 of the WT. The formative essay will consist of a draft outline of the summative essay. It will require the choice of an essay topic and title, the justification of why it is relevant, a short literature review, the formulation of the essay question and a summary of how the question will be addressed (for instance, using comparative cases). The essay will not receive a grade, instead feedback will be provided to promote critical thinking and guide students to use critical thinking through the real-life process of academic writing. Students will not be allowed to submit the summative essay without previously submitting the formative essay.

Indicative reading

Priority Readings

  • Ben Moffit. Populism. Cambridge: Polity, 2020.
  • C. Rovira Kaltwasser, P. Taggat, P. Ostiguy and P.Ochoa-Espejo (eds.) Oxford Handbook on Populism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Further Readings

  • M. Canovan, “Trust the People”. Populism and the two faces of democracy. Political Studies 47 (11) 1999.
  • Jan-Werner Müller. What is Populism? Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.
  • P. Ostiguy, F. Panizza and B. Moffitt. Populism in Global Perspective. A Performative and Discursive Approach. New York: Routledge, 2021.
  • C. de la Torre (ed) Routledge Handbook of Global Populism. London: Routledge, 2019.
  • Chantal Mouffe. For a Left Populism. London: Verso, 2018.


Essay (80%, 4000 words) in the ST.
In-class assessment (20%) in the WT.

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

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: 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