African Politics

This module introduces you to major debates in the contemporary study of African politics and development, setting these issues within their historical, social and cultural contexts.

The module analyses the shifting balance between the state and society, the role of international forces, the changing role of the state in development and the most recent important trends such as urbanisation and the emergence of particularly young populations.

The selected themes are examined with reference to continental patterns and variations and reflect key areas of academic and public debate, and fields in which there is a lively and often contested literature.

Weekly lectures are complemented with seminars, giving you the opportunity to engage with some of the most important questions facing Africa today, such as: What was the impact of colonial rule? Are African states different to European states? Are they really states at all? Why has Africa seen so many civil wars?

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module you should be able to:

  • Describe the key features of states in Africa, and discuss whether or not they are different to states elsewhere in the world.
  • Explain the key domestic/international and political/economic/social/geographical challenges to African development.
  • Analyse the variation between African countries’ development trajectories and political settlements, with reference to history and theory.
  • Evaluate the usefulness of different theories and frameworks for understanding politics and development in Africa.


  • One oral presentation (25%)
  • One 3,000 word written assignment (75%)