ASTK15720U COURSE: Introduction to Political Psychology

Volume 2017/2018

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


Political psychology is a proliferating interdisciplinary study drawing from the fields of political science, psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology and anthropology. This course introduces students to a multidisciplinary field of political psychology. In doing so, it aims to explore the ways in which political reality can be explained from the perspective of psychology. The course will introduce students to main approaches in conceptualization, theorization and empirical enquiry contributing to the study of political psychology.

The course is designed with the view to address a number of key themes in the field, such as political behavior, political identity and it’s integrational capacity, political psychology of individuals and groups, political discourse, political symbols and myths, political emotions, exclusion, violence and conflict.



The course is expected to be structured to include the following topics:

  1. Introduction to political psychology,
  2. political culture,
  3. political behavior,
  4. politics and psychoanalysis,
  5. political identity,
  6. personality and politics,
  7. political psychology of groups,
  8. psychology of political leadership,
  9. political discourse,
  10. collective memories and political narratives,
  11. political symbols and myths,
  12. political emotions,
  13. exclusion, violence and conflict
  14. concluding reflections


The course comprises eleven 2-hour sessions (more condensed option; alternative – eleven weeks with two 2-hour sessions, each theme developed over 4 hours respectively) focusing on theoretical and applied elements set out in the course. Emphasis is placed on active learning through investigation of the selected topics and their analytical value in application to selected cases (EU democratic deficit, European (des)integration, the refugee crisis, terrorism, right-wing extremism), revisited systematically throughout the course.


Questions addressed in the course explore the following:

How does the pluralistic nature of the discipline enables a comprehensive and meaningful understanding of contemporary political reality? What is the potential of psychoanalytic theory in explaining some of the most pressing issues in European and global politics? 

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to enable the students to:

  • Evaluate the analytical capacity of the multi-disciplinarian approach of political psychology
  • Present fundamental theoretical principles of political psychology.
  • Apply these theoretical principles to the selected cases in contemporary European and global politics.
  • Analyse the place of myths, symbols and collective memories in the production and reception of political narratives
  • Analyse the role of emotions in the political process
  • Understand the mechanisms of identity construction

Reflect critically on psychological perspectives on the mechanisms of exclusion and the nature of conflict

Preliminary readings:

Fornas, J. (2011). “Signifying Europe”, Bristol: Intellect;

Freud, S. (1982). “Civilization and its Discontents”, London: the Hogarth Press;

Freud, S. (1991). “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego”, Civilization, Society and Religion, London: Penguin;

Frosh, S. (1987). “The Politics of Psychoanalysis”, London: Macmillan Education;

Gellner, E. (1983). “Nations and Nationalism”, Oxford: Blackwell;

Giddens, A. (1985). “The Nation-state and Violence”, Berkeley: University of Californa Press;’

Kaschuba, W. (2000). “The Emergence and Transformation of Foundation Myths”, in Srath (ed), Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community, 217 – 226;

Kertzer, D.I. (1988). “Ritual, Power and Politics”, Yale University Press;

Kinnvall, K., Nesbitt-Larking, P. (2011). “The political psychology of globalization, Muslims in the West”, Oxford University Press;

Kølvraa, C. (2010). “Political Paternity and the Construction of Europe”, Kontur, vol. 19;

Manners, I. (2011). “Symbolism in European Integration”,

Manners, I. (2014). “The Political Psychology of European Integration”, in Capelos, Kinnvall, Nessbitt-Larking (eds.), Narrating Moments of Political Change, Palgrave;

Renshon, S. A. (2012). “The Contributions of Political Psychology to Comparative Political Leadership Analysis” in L. Helms, Comparative Political Leadership; Palgrave Macmillan (pp.186-207);

Shore, C. (2000). Building Europe: the Cultural Politic of European Integration. London: Routledge;

Smith, A. (1992). “National Identity and the Idea of European Unity”, International Affairs, 88(1), 55 - 76;

Stavrakakis, Y., (1999). “Lacan and the Political”, London: Rutledge;

Tileagă, C., (2015). “Political Psychology: Critical Perspectives”, Cambridge University Press;

Wodak, R. (1989). Language, Power, and Ideology: Studies in political discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Wodak, R. (2009). The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics as Usual. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan;

Zizek, S. (1996). “Invisible Ideology: Political Violence between Fiction and Fantasy”, Journal of Political ideologies, 1(1), 15-32;

Complete list of course readings will be available before the commencement of the course.

Enrolment into BA (preferable to students in the later stages of their degrees) or MA programmes in Political Science, interest in the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis and European politics
Lectures, home assignments, group discussions (and other group learning activities ), case studies, guest lecturers (optional)
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Written exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner