Faculty of Arts


The Politics of Extremism: From Fascism to Terrorism

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for POLITICS 200.



This course offers a theoretical and empirical introduction to the causes and nature of violent political extremism. It examines the main forms of extremism over the past hundred years, from Anarchism, Fascism and Communism through to Genocide and Terrorism.

A leading question in the course is whether common causes can be identified for these varied forms. We are particularly interested in the use of violence: what explains why so many groups use violence to reach their political or ideological goals?; do extreme ideologies necessarily lead to violence?; would we all be willing to engage in violent extremist behaviour given the right circumstances?

Course Readings

Weekly and additional readings are provided on Canvas. It is important that you read at least the essential readings each week before the lectures and discussion classes so you can get the most out of the course, make a substantial contribution to discussions (and of course be best placed to earn a high grade).

The lectures will present case studies of different forms or organisations of political extremism. I encourage you to search for information about other cases not covered in the course and use these in your essays and other assignments. You are also welcome to use and test other theories not discussed in the lectures.

Availability 2018

Not taught in 2018


Coordinator(s) Dr Chris Wilson


Coursework + exam


POLITICS 200: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage I in Political Studies or Politics and International Relations, or POLITICS 106 and 30 points in Global Politics and Human Rights

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