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Brexit and Populism in Europe


Admission requirements

Registration for the Minor European Union Studies or admission to the pre-master European Union Studies.


For many, Britain's decision to leave the European Union (EU) was indicative of the end of politics as we know it. Populist movements, it seems, are ever more vocal in Europe while mainstream parties and their ideas are increasingly sidelined. And in championing Brexit, the 2016 referendum appears to serve as a reminder that populism most clearly continues to rear its head in the form of Euroscepticism. Yet the definitions of populism and Euroscepticism are hotly debated, as are the drivers of and relationship between both trends. The aim of this elective is consequently threefold. First, it seeks to conceptualise what we mean by populism and Euroscepticism. Second, it contextualises the current populist 'wave' by placing events against a broader historical backdrop. And third it adds a comparative element in order to contrast a range of different populist movements, parties and personalities throughout the continent.

Issues that will be discussed during this course are:

-What are the main characteristics of populism and of Euroscepticism?
-What are the main causes of the rise of populism and Euroscepticism?
-Is populism a threat to the democratic system or a ‘wake-up call’ for renewal of democracy?
-To what extent is Euroscepticism a threat to the EU?
-How to respond to this development, both at a national and a European level?

Course objectives

  • To provide students with greater understanding and knowledge of the meaning of populism and Euroscepticism and its impact on the European integration process.

  • To provide students with insight into the challenges that the EU is facing in this respect.

  • To develop students’ skills in respect of research, writing, presentation and debate.


The timetable is available on the International Relations website

Mode of instruction

Lectures + seminars + individual presentations

Assessment method


The final mark is based upon a combination of the following elements:

20% individual presentation
20% active participation in the course and class discussion
60% research paper

The research paper will only be marked if the student has attended the lectures and seminars.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Revise and resubmit the research paper.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A reading list will be distributed at the start of the course, including compulsory reading for each class.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Dr. M. Broad