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HIST3224 Fascism and the far right

Module Overview

This module will examine the origins, development and impact of a variety of fascist and far right groups from European and world history. The module takes a comparative angle, contrasting cases from Germany, Russia, Italy, France, the USA and central Europe, depending on staff availability. The module will start with an assessment of the organized right active in Europe during the late nineteenth century, and their reliance on theories of social Darwinism and irredentist ideas, and development of an ethno-populist politics for the age of mass society. It will then cross into the twentieth century and consider connections between these existing forms of radical, populist nationalism and the subsequent appearance and development of fascism. Sessions then explore the development of far right politics after World War Two, including the rise of the alt-right in America and re-emergence of contemporary far right groups in Europe. The module will conclude with an assessment of why populist nationalist politics continue to be so pronounced in the contemporary era, and what forms the radical right takes in Britain and the world now. In so doing it will develop the comparative perspective crucial to successful alternative histories modules: why did fascism and far right take off more in some countries than in others?

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Aims of the module - Examine significant examples of radical right groups in a number of countries: ideologies, politics and major personalities - Provide a comparative angle on these different groups, comparing and contrasting different cases from history.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • • Major historical debates concerning the radical right
  • • Awareness of the differences and similarities between traditional forms of conservatism and the radical right
  • • Some of the major figures involved in far right politics
  • • The social moods in countries that are needed for right wing groups to appear and develop
  • • Tensions that lead to far right movements taking on mass proportions
  • • The major facets of far right ideology: nationalism, demagogy and an ethno-populist politics
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • • Work independently and unsupervised for extended periods of time on complex tasks
  • • Display effective time management
  • • Interact purposefully, productively and confidently with both your tutor and peers
  • • Make valuable, critical and valued contributions to discussions and debates
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • • Gather, assimilate, synthesise and interpret a range of primary and secondary material
  • • Comment upon complex debates, citing relevant evidence in support of your own views
  • • Demonstrate significant depth of knowledge and insight into the radical right in a range of different countries and contexts
  • • Draw upon your acquired knowledge in debate, essays and under timed conditions
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • • Identify and explain key characteristics of radical right-wing parties
  • • Identity major characteristics of far right politics and ideology
  • • Have some familiarity with theoretical debates surrounding fascism and the far right
  • • Understand how and why different far right movements are successful or not successful in a variety of states


Most of the seminars for this module will focus on significant examples of far right politics on a case-by-case basis. The introductory seminar will provide an overview of the radical right and consider some of the central problems of definition. The second session will consider the origins of the right in a more general perspective. Afterwards, session will take on a more specific focus. As well as examining more well known examples like Italian fascism, cases perhaps unfamiliar to many students will be assessed, including the far right in Russia before 1917 and the far right in Britain today, and late nineteenth century nationalism in central Europe. A possible list of seminars, depending on lecturer availability: 1. What is the ‘radical right’? 2. The historical origins of the radical right 3. The radical right and anti-Semitism in the nineteenth century 4. The radical right in fin-de-siecle France 5. German nationalism in the nineteenth century 6. The rise of the right in Russia before 1917 7. Italian fascism 8. The alt-right in America after World War Two 9. The radical right in Britain 10. The radical right in Central and Eastern Europe 11. Contemporary understands of the radical right

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Three hour seminars (with breaks), including detailed reading and analysis of primary sources – including texts, images or objects - Student presentations on key examples and events Learning activities include: - In depth analysis of primary sources - Preparatory reading and individual study - Individual participation in seminars, group work and short presentations on seminar themes Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your ideas on a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Follow-up work56
Completion of assessment task100
Preparation for scheduled sessions108
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Blinkhorn, M. (ed.) (1990). Fascists and Conservatives. 

Jan Werner-Muller. What is Populism?. 

Griffin, R. (1991). Fascism. 

Rogger, H. and E. Weber (eds.). The European Right, A Historical Profile. 

Gilbert, G (2016). The Radical Right in Late Imperial Russia: Dreams of a True Fatherland?. 

Hainsworth, P. (ed.) (2000). The Politics of the Extreme Right: From the Margins to the Mainstream. 

Rémond, R. (1969). The Right-Wing in France from 1815 to De Gaulle. 

Nord, P (1986). Paris Shopkeepers and the Politics of Resentment. 

Winock, M. (1998). Nationalism, Anti-Semitism and Fascism in France. 

Mudde, C. (ed.). The Populist Radical Right: A Reader. 

Reinerman, A (1991). The Failure of Popular Counter-Revolution in Risorgimento Italy: The Case of the Centurions 1831-1847’,. ,Historical Journal 34 .



Literature review


MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise  (1000 words) 20%
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Exam 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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