African Politics - POLI9570

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Yvan Guichaoua checkmark-circle


The module will engage with the abundant literature in political science, history, sociology and anthropology concerned with the transformations of the state and the societies in Africa. Africanist literature is empirically exceptionally rich and conceptually innovative. The objective of the module is to explore the tools this literature offers to study contemporary political dynamics on the continent, using a comparative approach, and understand the importance of Africa in international relations


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 176
Total study hours: 200

Method of assessment

Essay, 5000 words (100%).

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Reading List (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Bach, D. and Gazibo, M (ed). 2012. Neopatrimonialism in Africa and Beyond. London: Routledge

Bates, R. 2008. When things fell apart. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Bayart, J.-F. 2009. The State in Africa. Polity

Boone, C. 2014. Property and Political order in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Cheeseman, N. and Anderson, D. 2013. Routledge Handbook of African Politics. Routledge

Herbst, J. 2000. States and Power in Africa. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Mamdani, M. 1996. Citizen and Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Mbembe, A. 2001. On the Postcolony. University of California Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1: have a good understanding of the varieties and modalities of governance of African political regimes

8.2: have a good understanding of the pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial political, social and economic transformations shaping contemporary African regimes

8.3: have a comprehensive picture of the conceptualisations of contemporary African systems of governance and, in particular, the political economy and normative representations they rely on

8.4: analyse ongoing political dynamics in Africa with the adequate conceptual tools: democratisation, social mobilisation, identity politics, coups, political violence, electoral politics etc.

8.5: understand how African countries relate to each other, cooperatively or not, formally (regionalisation) or not (cross border activities, migration, political destabilisation via proxies etc.)

8.6: have a deep understanding of the way African countries currently relate to the rest of the world economically or politically (bilaterally, multilaterally, via INGOs or private sector partnerships in the North or in the South). Whether Africa's 'extraversion' (Bayart) today has anything in common with historical patterns of the African continent global connectedness will be investigated

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1: work with theoretical knowledge at the forefront of their discipline

9.2: be aware of the ethical dimensions of the scholarly work done in their discipline in general as well as of their own work in particular

9.3: have a comprehensive understanding of methods and methodologies in their discipline

9.4: undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge

9.5: have a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, advanced scholarship and methodologies and argue alternative approaches

9.6: be reflective and self-critical in their research work

9.7: engage in academic and professional communication orally and in writing

9.8: have independent learning ability required for continuing professional study


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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