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Module Code: POU44152

Module Name: Right Wing Populism in Contemporary Democracies 2020-21

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 2
  • Contact Hours: One 90-minute seminar per week
  • Module Personnel: Dr Alexander Held

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • have an enhanced understanding of the causes and consequences of the right-wing populist backlash in advanced industrial democracies
  • be familiar with academic research into why citizens vote for populist parties and politicians
  • have been encouraged, and ideally have learned, to critically assess the material that they encounter both substantively and methodologically

Module Learning Aims

The aim of this module is to deepen students’ understanding not only of the phenomenon of right-wing populist electoral backlash, but also of the academic research that aims to interpret and understand this recent trend.


Module Content

The module will begin by introducing students to the concepts and measurement of populism in advanced industrial democracies. The largest part of the module will then focus on factors that help us understand the recent rise in support for right-wing populist parties and politicians. In a first step, the module will consider demand-side explanations, that is, factors that explain why an increasing number of voters turn to right-wing populist challenger parties: cultural backlash, economic grievances, and immigration/race/ethnicity. In a second step, the focus shifts to supply-side explanations, that is, to electoral strategies that politicians or parties may adopt and to the institutional context in which they interact: electoral systems, party competition, and populist rhetoric. We will also discuss the consequences of this populist backlash for policy agendas and democracy.

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Reading List

Readings for this module frequently use quantitative methods. It is highly recommended that students not familiar with statistical analysis at the level of POU33011 and POU33012 read an introduction to quantitative research methods (e.g. Paul M. Kellstedt and Guy D. Whitten. 2018. The Fundamentals of Political Science Research. 3rd edition, New York: Cambridge University Press.) before the start of the module.

Recommended Reading List

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

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. 2018. How Democracies Die. New York: Crown Publishing


Assessment Details

Essay 1 - weighted 40%
Essay 2 - weighted 60%

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