Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3230: Trumping the Mainstream: Populism and Democratic Politics

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics.

  • The first few classes provides the conceptual basis for the rest of the course. Drawing on contemporary political theory and the history of political ideas, they place the evolving meaning of key concepts such as "The People" and populism, the Left/Right divide, the fringe/mainstream dichotomy and differences between democracy and authoritarianism in historical perspective. 
  • The second part of the module focuses on trends in the rise of the populist claims and parties over the past few decades in the West. It will examine provide an overview of these trends, as well as of the major demand and supply-side factors that help explain them. These classes will examine the role of social change, the agency of radical political forces, the impact of a changing media landscape and the responsibility of mainstream political actors.
  • The last section of the course will turn to present and future trends, focusing on both the consequences of radical right populism for democratic politics and the ways in which these consequences might be answered, for instance through institutional engineering, the emergence of national political alternatives or transnational forms of politics.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities4422 x 2 hour per week seminars including small group work, presentations, and class discussion.
Guided Independent Study136Reading
Guided Independent Study40Case study writing
Guided Independent Study30Presentation preparation
Guided Independent Study50Essay writing

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).