PIR-30119 - The Extreme Right in Western Europe
Coordinator: Liz Carter Room: CBA2.009 Tel: +44 1782 7 34248
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

Right-wing extremist parties have experienced success in elections in a number of countries in Western Europe over the last three and a half decades. This phenomenon has attracted widespread attention, both in the media and in academic circles, sparking a number of frequently asked questions: why have these parties become electorally successful? What exactly do they stand for? What kind of people vote for them? Why do people vote for them? Why have they experienced more success in some countries than in others? Should we be worried about their rise? And what can we, or mainstream political parties, do to counter their rise?
This module aims to examine all these questions. Rather than adopting a country-by-country approach it follows a thematic structure. It begins by exploring the different theories and debates that seek to explain why right-wing extremist parties have emerged in Western Europe in the contemporary period. It then turns its attention to the concept of right-wing extremism itself and investigates what characteristics a party might have if we are to label it an `extreme right┐ party and what makes an extreme right party different from other types of party. Then, it examines the ideologies of different right-wing extremist parties across different West European countries and explore who votes for these parties and why.
Having established what these parties stand for and who votes for them, the module then tackles the question of why some right-wing extremist parties have been electorally more successful than others. It then explores the impact that right-wing extremist parties have had on public debate, policy-making, party competition and democracy over the last 30 years or so, and it investigates the various consequences of this increased influence for the extreme right parties themselves. It finishes by considering how mainstream parties have attempted to counter the rise and growing influence of the parties of the extreme right.

This module aims to:
- introduce students to the theoretical perspectives, empirical approaches and key bodies of literature to analysing right-wing extremism and right-wing extremist parties and voters
- enhance critical skills needed to analyse complex theories and concepts related to the study of right-wing extremism, to evaluate how we best define these concepts, and to apply these definitions to real life case studies
- cultivate skills needed to effectively engage in empirical and comparative research in the field of political ideologies, party politics and psephology
- enhance skills needed to effectively assess and evaluate the impact of contemporary right-wing extremism on public debate, party competition and policy-making, and to relate the academic study of right-wing extremism to questions of public and political concern
- enhance communication skills (both oral and written) and experience of working in a team

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

critically analyse and evaluate complex theories and concepts related to the study of right-wing extremism and right-wing extremist parties and voters: 1,2
identify the socio-demographic characteristics of extreme right party voters and their motivations, and on the basis of this empirical investigation, critically analyse and evaluate theories of extreme right voting behaviour: 1,2
identify and assess the reasons that explain why some right-wing extremist parties have been electorally more successful than others: 1,2
assess the impact of right-wing extremism on public debate, policy-making and party competition across Western Europe and relate the academic study of right-wing extremism to questions of public and political concern: 1,2
apply definitions and classifications of right-wing extremism to case studies so as to compare and contrast the ideologies right-wing extremist parties across Western Europe: 1,2

Study hours

Schedules seminars: 20 hours
Preparation for seminars: 40 hours
Preparation for group oral presentation: 30 hours
Preparation for and writing of essay: 60 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Group Presentation weighted 30%
An oral group presentation (peer-weighted)
A 15-20 minute oral group presentation, supported by PowerPoint slides, and followed by questions from the class. Groups will be of 2-4 students. Marks will be peer-weighted by presentation group members.

2: Essay weighted 70%
A 3000 word essay
Students will complete a 3,000 word essay. They will have a choice of questions based around the seminar topics.