Comparative Perspectives on Populism POLITIC4182

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will engage students with contemporary debates around populism and its diverse manifestations across the world. It will introduce different theoretical approaches for understanding populism and examine a variety of historical and contemporary cases of populism.


The course is taught over 10 weeks (with one additional reading week) - one hour lecture, followed by one hour seminar each teaching week.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Entry to Honours Politics requires a grade point average of 12 (Grade C) over Politics 2A and Politics 2B as a first attempt.

Excluded Courses





Participation: class presentation (10%) - ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4

Students will be asked to present for eight to ten minutes on a topic related to the seminar that week. It is intended that this presentation be the basis for the class discussion. Students will be encouraged to utilise PowerPoint slides (or other forms of presentation software) as part of their presentation.


Written essay, 1500 words (40%) - ILOs 1, 2 and 4

Once the theoretical and historic component of the course is completed, students will be asked to submit an essay which will require them to apply theoretical approaches to historic examples of populism to assess their understanding of these.


Written essay, 2500 words (50%) - ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4

At the end of the course, students will be asked to submit an essay which critically compares two contemporary cases representing different types of populism. The essay will require the students to synthesise their theoretical approach of populism and engage with historic cases of populism in order to critically analyse how different populist case studies conceptualise people, elite and other core components of populism.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses


Course Aims

This course aims to introduce students to the study of populism from comparative politics perspective. It will provide them with strong theoretical support to analyse empirical evidence associated with populism through the examination of exemplary historic and contemporary populist cases. The particular focus of this course is on the varieties of populism across the world and its relationship to popular and party politics.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Critically appraise the main theoretical approaches to populism.

2. Discuss historic examples to evaluate contemporary populism and theoretical approaches to populism.

3. Analyse the diverse forms of contemporary populism that exist by assessing their differences and similarities.

4. Formulate and compose reasoned arguments, supported by empirical and theoretical evidence.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.