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




600-900 EUR




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 nowadays to read the news 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 Trump phenomenon, shock of Brexit and rising tide of radical parties in Europe, it is an overused but largely undefined term. So join us in our expedition for its roots and representations in the form of 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 make approximately 20 pages of reading 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 so-called Pitkäsilta, as the critical avenue through which Finnish “people”, along with their collective memories and myth, are constructed in the aftermath of the Civil War. Programme: Lunch at Hakaniemi Market Hall followed by 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 Services).

Means and criteria of assessment

Grading scale is 1-to-5, which is assessed on the following basis:

  • Class Participation (20%)
  • Group Assignments (40%)
  • Learning Diary (40%)
Program taught in:
  • English

See 19 more programs offered by Helsinki Summer School »

This course is Campus based
Start Date
11 days
600 EUR
600-900 EUR
By locations
By date
Start Date
End Date
Application deadline
Application deadline
End Date