17 July 2020
Populism and the Challenge to Western Democracy
Donald Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK are part of a rise in populism. Authoritarian populist parties hold power in Italy and Hungary, and have gained support in countries as diverse as France, Austria and Poland. But what is populism? Is it part of a historical trend or is it markedly new? Does populism speak for ‘the people’ or is it a danger to democracy? Is the rise of populism irresistible or can liberal democracies react to this challenge? The course will look at competing ideas of populism before evaluating the causes of the recent growth of populism in Europe and the United States. We analyse explanations which highlight economic causes, cultural backlash, immigration and elite manipulation. The course will move on to focus on specific cases, including both right-wing and left-wing populism in Europe and the US. We will conclude by looking at strategies which liberal democracies might use to respond to populism.
Will Richards is a Teaching Fellow at UCL’s Centre for Languages and International Education. He has provided courses on Modern European History and Politics since 2011 on the UPCH course. His teaching covers topics including nationalism, democracy and th
This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.
The aim of the course is to understand competing definitions of populism and the role that populism plays in
the context of democratic politics in Europe and the United States. In particular the course will seek to evaluate
the reasons behind the growth of populism and the extent to which specific cases in different nation states can
be generalised. The course will seek to tie the question of populism into wider debates about nation states and
democracy. Students will develop knowledge of political ideas and principles as well as increase understanding
of contemporary attitudes to democracy in the West.
15 UCL credits, 7.5 ECTS, 4 US
GBP 2100: There is a built-in tuition fee discount for students studying for 6 weeks (2 modules).
GBP 1100: Accommodation (optional) is available, close to campus in central London. The cost will be approx. £1100 per 3-week Session.