London, United Kingdom

Populism and the Challenge to Western Democracy

when 26 June 2023 - 14 July 2023
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 EC
fee GBP 2350

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.

Course leader

Will Richards

Target group

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.

Course aim

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

be able to engage with debates concerning populism, nationalism and democracy by examining competing perspectives and formulating their own viewpoints.
be able to identify particular cases of populism in the United States and Europe, and be able to contrast and evaluate these.
be able to formulate strategies which liberal democracies might use to respond to populism.
be able to design relevant research projects, analysing evidence from a range of sources.
be able to think critically about the nature and limitations of different forms of evidence, and be able to use this ability to form convincing arguments.

Credits info

7.5 EC
7.5 ECTS, 4 US, 15 UCL

Fee info

GBP 2350: There is a built-in tuition fee discount for students studying for 6 weeks (2 modules).
GBP : Students are welcome to apply for accommodation at a UCL summer residence.