Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 Hours. (16 x 1 hour)
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours. (8 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,000 word country briefing  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Supplementary Assessment

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
1) Identify the key legacies of colonialism in Africa, and assess their contemporary relevance for the African state
2) explain the development and prevalence of neo-patrimonialism, clientelism & authoritarianism
on the continent
3) critically assess the extent to which recent transitions to democracy have transformed state-society
4) identify, describe and account for instances of conflict, state collapse and warlordism on the continent
5) describe some of the ways in which global forces impact on domestic state-society relations
6) apply the general concepts and theories of African politics to specific empirical examples
7) utilize appropriate research methods to generate relevant information for specific case studies

Brief description

Many of our images of Africa are of famine, corruption, civil war and ethnic hatred. While there is no denying the prevalence of deprivation and violence on the continent, these images often obscure more than they reveal about contemporary African politics. Africa is also a place of dynamic change and of economic, political and cultural transformations. This module provides students with the theoretical and conceptual tools for analysing recent developments in sub-Saharan Africa, and covers some of the main debates and issues in the study of politics on the continent.


The central focus of the module is on the relationship between state and society, or between rulers and ruled. The module examines the difficulties of establishing political legitimacy and constructing nation-states in the emergence from colonialism, when African countries were in many respects states before they were nations. The topics covered include the various results of the state's quest for hegemony, most notably neo-patrimonialism, clientelism, and authoritarianism.

The module also investigates the response of African societies to state politics, including the wave of democratisation on the continent in the 1990s. Special attention is focused on the transition to democracy in South Africa, and the search for reconciliation and transformation in the post-apartheid period. The new politics of development are assessed critically, including poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), the Millennium Development Goals, participatory development programmes, transboundary environmental governance, peace parks, NEPAD and the AU.


1. Introduction
2. Colonialism and its Legacies
3. African Nationalism, Class and Gender
4. The Postcolonial State
5. Corruption and neo-Patrimonialism
6. The Politics of Ethnicity
7. The Political Economy of War
8. The Failed State Thesis
9. Africa in the New World Order
10. Poverty and Structural Adjustment
11. The Third Wave of Democracy
12. Reconciliation and Transformation in the Rainbow Nation
13. NEPAD and the African Renaissance
14. Partnerships and the Politics of PRSPs
15. Peace Parks and Trans-boundary Conservation
16. Conclusion

Reading List

Recommended Text
A Thomson (2000) An Introduction to African Politics Routledge Primo search N Chazan, Lewis et al (1999) Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa Lynne Rienner Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6