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Argumentative And Rhetorical Practices


Admission requirements

A bachelor with a linguistic orientation.


The rise and succes of populist politicians poses a challenge to all kinds of scholars. The use of obnoxious language, the disregard for facts and institutions and the refusal to substantiate claims constitutes behaviour that deviates from that which would be the norm in a liberal democracy. In this course we study populism as a discourse practice, both from an argumentative and a rhetorical viewpoint. Does a populist discourse style exist? If so, which are its characteristics? Why does populist rhetoric appeal to so many people?
We will address these questions on the basis of a selection of relevant articles from discourse studies, most of them presenting case studies and qualitative research. Among the topics that will come by are the identification of a populist ideology, ethos and pathos strategies, populist arguments and fallacies, equivocation and commitment, narrative argument and counter-discourse. In the second part of the course, students will carry out their own research and report on this in class and in a paper.

Course objectives

At the end of this course you should be able to:
1. Report, both orally and in writing, on issues relating to a discourse approach to populism;
2. Draft a research question that is based on a literature review and examine this question in a systematic and methodologically sound way;
3. Report, both orally and in writing, on your own discourse-oriented research to populism;
4. Lead a class discussion and provide constructive feed back to the presentations and papers of fellow students;
5. (only for students of the educational MA:) Devise a didactic method for secondary school students on a topic relating to populist discourse.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Tutorial

  • Literature study

Assessment method


  • Presentations

  • Assignments

  • Peer review

  • Participation

  • Paper


  • Presentations: 20%

  • Assignments, peer review, participation: 10%

  • Paper: 70%


There is one resit opportunity for the final version of the paper; there is no resit for the other assessment components.

Inspection and feedback

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

  • Read this book for the first meeting: Müller, J-W. (2016). What is populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    You can find this book in the UB. You may also read the Dutch version: Müller, J-W. (2017). Wat is populisme? Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Nieuw Amsterdam.

  • You can find the rest of the literature on Brightspace, as well as the programme.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats.


Not applicable.