BA Politics and German

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Africa & Global Politics

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


1.    Introduction: myth and representation in African politics

2.    ‘Colonialism is over’

3.    ‘Africa is corrupt’

4.    ‘Africa is violent’

5.    ‘Africa is tribal’

6.    ‘Africa is authoritarian’

7.    ‘Africa is sick’

8.    ‘Africa is wild’

9.    ‘Africa is rising’

10.  Conclusion: Decolonising African studies


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 myths, stereotypes and discourses about the continent. Many of our images of Africa are of famine, corruption, civil war and ethnic hatred, and whilst these issues are important, 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, and of various forms of resistance to the colonial and postcolonial myths which structure representations of Africa within global politics.

Learning outcomes

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

  • identify some of the most important relationships between global structures, discourses and institutions, and African politics;
  • understand and explain the history and transformation of colonial power relations, poverty, corruption, authoritarianism, violence and resistance on the continent;
  • critically assess dominant representations of Africa as poor, corrupt, violent, and wild;
  • apply some of the general concepts and theories of African studies to specific empirical examples.


The module is organised thematically, and is held together through engagement with postcolonial perspectives, authors and debates on African politics. Throughout the course we critically interrogate powerful myths, stereotypes and discourses about African politics: that Africa is poor, rising, corrupt, unfree, violent, wild, and so on.

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. 1000 word country report (20%)
  2. Tutorial participation via online discussion board 6x100 words (20%)
  3. 2,400 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

Thomson, A. (2016) An Introduction to African Politics (London; Routledge).

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

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

Falola, T. (2002) Key events in African History: A Reference Guide (Westport: Greenwood Press).


Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carl Death Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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