This course is available through clearing

If you already have your exam results, meet the entry requirements and hold no offers, then you can apply to this course now.

Contact the admissions team

If you're waiting for your results, then sign up to our clearing alerts to get all the information you need ahead of results day.

Sign up now

BA Politics and Russian / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

For the latest updates on how coronavirus will affect applicants and offer-holders, you can visit our FAQs.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page.

Information for offer-holders

Course unit details:
Africa & Global Politics

Unit code POLI30862
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


1.    Introduction: ‘Africa rising?’

2.    Colonialism and its Legacies

3.    Development, poverty, and growth

4.    The Political Economy of War

5.    Democratisation from the ‘third wave’ to the ‘African spring’

6.    Corruption, institutions, and neo-patrimonialism

7.    Tribes, ethnicity, and identity

8.    Land and the environment

9.    Continuity and change in the Rainbow Nation

  1. Africa and the international


In this course, students will investigate the international and global dimensions of contemporary African politics. It 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. It draws on examples and case studies from a wide range of countries, and students are encouraged to develop their knowledge of both continent-wide trends, and specific countries and regions. The course also seeks to critically examine and contest dominant discourses about the continent. Many of our images of Africa are of famine, corruption, civil war and ethnic hatred, and whilst there is no denying the prevalence of deprivation and violence, 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. As such the module focuses on continuities and changes in Africa’s relationship with the rest of the world, and in state-society relations within Africa.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

  • identify some of the ways in which global forces impact on domestic state-society relations in Africa;
  • explain the development and prevalence of continuities like neopatrimonialism, clientelism, and authoritarianism on the continent;
  • critically assess the extent to which recent transitions to democracy, and the ‘rise of the global south’, have transformed African politics;
  • account for instances of conflict and state collapse on the continent;
  • critically discuss issues of race, gender, religion, class and identity in postcolonial African politics;
  • apply the general concepts and theories of African politics to specific empirical examples.


The module is conceptually organised into two halves. Weeks 1-5 address continuities in African politics, such as the colonial legacy, the African state, conflict and corruption. Lectures 6-10 address more recent changes including democratization, development partnerships, rising powers, and the ‘new scramble’ for African resources. Common themes across these topics include a focus on the relationship between state and society, as well as Africa’s place in global politics.

  1. Introduction: ‘Africa rising?’
  2. Colonialism and its Legacies
  3. The Postcolonial State: Tribes and nations
  4. Corruption and neopatrimonialism
  5. The Political Economy of War
  6. Development, poverty and growth
  7. Democratisation from the ‘third wave’ to the ‘African spring’
  8. The city and the jungle: Africa’s wild places
  9. A new scramble for Africa?
  10. Continuity and change in the Rainbow Nation

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be taught on the basis of ten two-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars. The lectures will comprise a mix of traditional lecture material, interactive question and answer sessions, small tasks in break-out groups, videos, and student debates. Seminars will be more student-led, involving (i) discussion of readings; (ii) group work and set-exercises; and (iii) debates and role-play scenarios. All students will be expected to have completed the required reading and to have completed extensive preparation.

Assessment methods

 The Course is assessed as follows:

  1. A 1,500 word country report on a country of their choice, in the style of a foreign office briefing paper (20%)
  2. Class participation (20%)
  3. A 4,000 word coursework essay (60%)

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Maathai, W. The Challenge for Africa (New York: Random House, 2009)

Thomson, A. (2010) An Introduction to African Politics (London; Routledge).

Bates, R.H. (2008) When things fell apart: State failure in late-century Africa (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge).

Bayart, J.-F. (1993) The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly (London; Longman).

Chabal, P. and Daloz, J.-P. (1999) Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument (Oxford; James Currey).

Chazan, N., Lewis, P., Mortimer, R., Rothchild, D. and Stedman, S.J. (1999) Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa (Boulder; Lynne Rienner).

Cheeseman, N., Anderson, D. M. and Scheibler, A. (eds) (2013) Routledge Handbook of African Politics (Abingdon; Routledge).

Clapham, C. (1996) Africa and the International System: The politics of state survival (Cambridge; CUP).

Cooper, F. (2002) Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge; CUP).

Gordon, A.A. and Gordon, D.L. (2007) Understanding Contemporary Africa (Boulder; Lynne Rienner).

Harrison, G. (2002) Issues in the Contemporary Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa (Basingstoke; Palgrave).

Hyden, G. (2006) African Politics in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge; CUP).

Parker, J. and Rathbone, R. (2007) African History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford; OUP).

Rotberg, R. I. (2013) Africa Emerges: Consummate Challenges, Abundant Opportunities (Cambridge; Polity).

Tordoff, W. (2002) Government and Politics in Africa (Basingstoke; Palgrave).

Van de Walle, N. (2001) African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1990 (Cambridge; CUP).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carl Death Unit coordinator

Additional notes

2 hrs lectures and 1 hr seminars, weekly


Return to course details