Module Identifier IP33520  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Rita Abrahamsen  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Lecture   16 Hours (16 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 2000 words  30%
Semester Assessment Report: 1 x 500-800 word country report  10%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students should be able to:

- identify the main problems of state and nation-building in sub-Saharan Africa
- 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 explore state collapse, the rise of warlordism when structures of authority and political order fall apart. Finally, the module examines the way in which international/global forces influence domestic politics and state-society relations, focusing on the imposition of structural adjustment programmes, the end of the cold war and the use of mercenaries.

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 Lists

** Recommended Text
A Thomson 2000 An Introduction to African Politics
N Chazan, Lewis et al Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa


This module is at CQFW Level 6