• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Melinda Cooper
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2023
    See Future Offerings

This course explores the topical phenomenon of populism from a sociological perspective. Topics covered 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) Populism, class and producerism: how does populism mobilise traditional markers of working class belonging while simplifying or distorting the actual stratifications of class today;

3) The role of gender and racial backlash: how are gender, sexual and racial minorities constituted as enemies of the people;

4) Populism and neoliberalism: the relationship between populist backlash and free market neoliberalism, from Thatcher and Reagan to today;

5) Populism of the left and right: what distinguishes populism from mainstream politics and how is it mobilised by both the left and right.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, 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

  1. Short essay 1500 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Tutorial participation and attendance (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Long essay, 3000 words (50) [LO 1,2,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


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.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

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

Margaret Canovan, Populism, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.

Michael Kazin. The Populist Persuasion: An American History, New York: Basic Books, 1995.

Cas Mudde and Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser. Populism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Jan-Werner Müller. What is Populism? Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. 41-74.

Carlos de la Torre, ed. Routledge Handbook of Global Populism. London: Routledge, 2018.

Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul A. Taggart, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Pierre Ostiguy, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Populism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2023 $3960
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5100
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4390 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 In Person View

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