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The University of Southampton

HIST3244 A Short History of the Populist Leader

Module Overview

As the world responds to the global financial crisis, populist leaders have come to dominate political debate in countries across the world - from India to the United Kingdom to the United States. In engaging with this phenomena, we are faced with a conundrum - if populist leaders represent popular interests then why does the rise of such leaders appear to undermine the national institutions of democratic politics? Why does populism effectively undermine the interests of the people? In this module you will address this conundrum by exploring the advantages and disadvantages of populist politics through short histories of populist movements in the past. This module will empower you with a nuanced understanding of the conceptual and historical background of populist politics in our contemporary world.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Explain a number of theories on populism.
  • Discuss in detail individual populist leaders from a range of different countries.
  • Outline the historical contexts in which populist leaders have acted.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Compare populist leaders and populism across the countries discussed in this module.
  • Apply theories of populism to individual populist leaders.
  • Develop a research topic on a populist leader using primary sources.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Reflect on your own learning and understanding across the module
  • Closely analyse a wide range of source material.
  • Communicate your ideas in written form.


The module will focus on case studies of the popular appeal of political movements. Indicative case studies may include: - Gandhi - Modi - Mao - Martin Luther King Jr - Nelson Mandela - Sukarno - Donald Trump - Nigel Farage - Lenin

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: Lectures introducing the key topics Small-group seminars to discuss primary sources and secondary readings Individual essay tutorials Learning methods include: Close analysis of a range of primary sources Extensive reading of secondary and theoretical literature Development of a learning journal to track progress on the module across the semester Research for and production of an analytical essay

Guided independent study125
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

C. Mudde & C. Rovira (2017). Populism: A Very Short Introduction. 

V. Khoros (1984). Populism: Its Past, Present and Future. 

D. Albertazzi & D. McDonnell (2015). Populists in Power. 

G. Tindall (1966). A Populist Reader. 

B. Moffitt (2016). The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 60%
Learning journal 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 60%
Learning journal  (1500 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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