• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, Policy Studies, Sociology, Politics

This course explores the topical phenomenon of populism from a sociological perspective. It includes, but is not limited to, populism in politics. Topics covered thus include:
1) What is populism? Politics offers the most common definition of populism today: social movements and parties that claim to be 'of the people' and 'against the elite'. But is this sufficient?
2) Intellectual and 'cultural' populism: the celebration of all things 'authentic' and 'direct', most notably in the case of popular music, but often in all forms of popular culture.
3) The problem of 'simulated authenticity': how can anything be authentically 'of the people'. What role do different forms of media, including journalism, play here?
4) The dark side of populism: the scapegoating of those deemed 'enemies of the people' by populist demagogues inside and outside politics.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. recognise some key controversies and debates within the literature on populism;
  2. identify the basic elements of dispute within a theoretical or methodological perspective;
  3. display skills associated with scholarly inquiry about populism including those related to critical analysis, argument and written expression; and
  4. express ideas in writing with conceptual coherence.

Indicative Assessment

Critical Review, 1500 words (40%) Learning Outcomes 1-4
Tutorial Presentation of 10 minutes (10%) Learning Outcomes 1-3
Final Essay, 3000 words (50%) Learning Outcomes 1, 2, and 4   

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials and tutorial-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 units of 1000 level Sociology (SOCY), Criminology (CRIM) or Political Science (POLS) courses; or with permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Links to Readings will be provided on the course Wattle site and Library ebrick.

Preliminary Reading

Berezin M. (2009) Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bartlett J, Birdwell J and Littler M. (2012) The new face of digital populism: Demos.
Eco,U. (2007) Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism. Orlando: Harvest/Harcourt: 128-156.
Frith, S. (1991) ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent: Defending Popular Culture from the Populists’, Diacritics, 21:4 (Winter): 102 -115.
Worsley,P. (1969) ‘The Concept of Populism’.  In G. Ionescu and E. Gellner (eds.), Populism: Its Meaning and National Characteristics. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson: 212-250




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3120
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4800
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6831 25 Jul 2022 01 Aug 2022 31 Aug 2022 28 Oct 2022 In Person View

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