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You are here Undergraduate > Module Outlines > Senior Sophister > African Politics

African Politics

Module Code: PO4710

Module Name: African Politics 2018-19

  • ECTS Weighting: 15
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 2 hour seminars weekly
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr Michelle D'Arcy
  • Office hours: Monday 2-4pm

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Articulate the different theoretical and ideological viewpoints on why Africa continues to be the poorest continent
  • Debate the impact of geography, colonialism and ethnic structure on state-building
  • Discuss the roles of different governance actors (International financial institutions, donors, elites, and civil society) in the political economy of African states
  • Understand authoritarian post-colonial African regimes and the reasons why democratization began in the early 1990s
  • Assess the nature and impact of democracy in African states
  • Analyze the nature and impact of economic crisis and reform on the continent
  • Discuss the causal factors leading to instability and civil wars
  • Debate whether or not external aid has helped or hindered African states
  • Analyze the debates on gender, health and HIV/AIDS and what they tell us about future development trajectories

Module Learning Aims

To develop an understanding of the major issues, actors and trends shaping African politics today and the key theories that help to explain these dynamics.


Module Content

Fifty years after decolonization, Africa continues to be the poorest continent. This course will explore why this is the case using both meta-theories of African underdevelopment, and focused case studies of particular countries.  During the course we will look at the legacies of colonialism in Africa, post-colonial experiences of authoritarian rule, recent moves towards democracy, the causes and consequences of economic crisis, the persistence of conflict and crises in health. Engaging with both established theories and emerging research, the course will challenge some stereotypical views of African states and provide a nuanced understanding of the dynamics of African politics.

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Recommended Reading List

Nicolas van de Walle. 2001. African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999. Cambridge University Press.
Jeffrey Herbst. 2000. States and Power in Africa. Princeton University Press.


Assessment Details


2 essays counting for 20% each
1 x 3-hour examination counting for 60% of the final mark

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