Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
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 Essay: 1 x 2000 words  30%
Semester Assessment Report: 1 x 500-800 word country report  10%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   60%
Supplementary Exam Resit opportunities for this module will be available in the Supplementary examination period. F resit: The student will re-sit the module by examination only for a 'capped' pass mark (40). H resit: The student will submit missing coursework elements and/or re-sit by examination in the Supplementary exam period in lieu of a missed/failed exam for full marks. Students re-sitting elements of failed coursework are required to select a different essay/assignment title and must not submit re-written versions of the original essay/assignment.  

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module students should be able to:

- identify the main problems to challenges and account for instances of conflict, state collapse and warlordism on the continent.
- explain the development and prevalence of neo-patrimonialism, clientelism & authoritarianism on the continent
- critically assess the extent to which recent transitions to democracy have transformed state-society relations
- account for instances of state collapse and warlordism on the continent
- describe some of the ways in which global forces impact on domestic state-society relations
- apply the general concepts and theories of African politics to specific empirical examples

Brief description

This module covers key analytical and empirical debates in contemporary African politics.


The aim of this module is to introduce students to some of the main debates and issues in the study of politics in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa.


At independence African leaders shared one crucial problem; the need to establish political authority over their territories and to forge bonds of solidarity between state and society, rulers and ruled. These territories frequently embodied ethnically, linguistically and culturally separate peoples, and in this sense most African countries were states before they were nations. The module examines the difficulties of establishing political legitimacy and constructing nation-states under such conditions, as well as the various results of the state's quest for hegemony, most notably neo-patrimonialism, clientelism, and authoritarianism.

The module also explores society's response to the politics of exclusion and in particular the recent wave of democratisation on the continent. We assess contemporary explanations of the prevalence of conflict, state collapse, and the rise of warlordism, and examine the way in which international/global forces influence domestic politics and state-society relations, including the imposition of structural adjustment programmes, the end of the cold war, and 'war on terrorism'. Finall, the module assesses the promise of NEPAD for Africa's future.

Transferable skills

Students will have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills which will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. Throughout the course, students should practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as basic numeracy skills and self management skills. In lectures students will develop listening and note taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars students will enhance their analytical skills and will practice listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team work and problem solving. Essay writing will encourage students to practice their independent research, writing and IT skills, and the examination will test these skills under time constraint conditions.

10 ECTS credits

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