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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses


Populism in Europe and Beyond


Network of European Studies, Prof. Juhana Aunesluoma (NES Research Director)


Related Degree Programmes:

Master’s Programme in European and Nordic Studies




900-1490 EUR Learn more




Halil Gürhanli

Target students

This course examines the populist spectacle from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, critically engaging with the most prevalent understandings of the term and encouraging students to think of its representations in a new light. Advanced Bachelor’s level or Master’s level students of social sciences are warmly invited to take this course.


This course offers a hands-on experience for students who are in equal degrees fascinated and confused by the persistence of populism in Europe and beyond. It is near impossible to read the news today without coming across some sort of reference to populism, mostly in the form that it is an epidemic threatening our democratic societies.

With the emergence of the Trump phenomenon, the shock of Brexit and the rising tide of radical parties in Europe, populism is an overused yet largely undefined term. So join us in our expedition for its roots and representations through lectures, workshops, excursions, movie show and discussion with real-life populist politicians.

Learning objectives

On completing this course, students should have a good understanding of different approaches to populism and its relationship with the democratic governance in contemporary Europe. They would have a clear idea of what populism is and, more importantly, is not in today’s politics. They would have the capacity to grasp and analyse any text or speech that employs the term and to produce their own opinions on populism and populists both at a theoretical and an empirical level.

Course format and teaching methods

Students are asked to read about 20 pages for each course day, which usually comprises of lectures followed by group work and/or visiting experts. In addition to lectures, various learning methods are employed throughout the course:

  • Pre-course assignment: Students are asked to bring up a populist ‘name’ written on a piece of paper, to be revealed on the first day during an ice-breaker discussion and group formation process.
  • Group assignment 1: Groups of 3–5 students present a deconstructive reading of video-recorded speeches of well-known populist politicians such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi, etc., offering their takes on the ‘populist message’. The aim is to generate a common table after all group presentations, with distinctive features of what makes one ‘populist’.
  • Group assignment 2: Groups of 3–5 students prepare a campaign poster design for a Populist Party and an accompanying public speech, presenting it with a special emphasis on ‘populist communication strategies’.
  • Field Trip: Passage from Kaisaniemi to Hakaniemi Square through the so-called Pitkäsilta, as the critical avenue through which the Finnish ‘people’, along with their collective memories and myth, were constructed in the aftermath of the Civil War. Programme: Lunch at Hakaniemi Market Hall followed by a guided tour of Kaisaniemi, Hakaniemi and Kallio ending up at Juttutupa (Excursion guide Janne Hernesniemi, Education Officer at JHL Institute, The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors).
  • Guest Politicians: Half a day dedicated to an in-class discussion between a self-defined populist politician (tbc) and an anti-populist one (tbc). Students are encouraged to take part and push the politicians out of their comfort zone with questions and comments.

Means and criteria of assessment

Grading scale: 1 to 5, assessed on the following basis:
Class Participation (20%)
Group Assignments (40%)
Learning Diary (40%)

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus


Monday 6.8.2018 Registration begins

Tuesday 7.8.2018 Registration continues, HSS Opening Ceremony

Wednesday 8.8.2018 Courses begin


Preliminary Course Schedule (pdf)