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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2021 - 2022

Module Title Politics & Development in sub-Saharan Africa
Module Code LG542
School School of Law & Government

Online Module Resources

Module Co-ordinatorDr. Niamh GaynorOffice NumberC222
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module aims to introduce students to the key issues in politics and development in sub-Saharan Africa, providing them with the theoretical and conceptual tools to evaluate and analyse these issues. While the diversity of countries, languages, cultures, histories and political structures across the continent make this a challenging course, the commonalities of experiences across African states from colonialism through to the present facilitate an analysis and understanding of many important issues. The peculiarities of the African state and its relationship to both domestic societies, as well as to the international system, will provide a conceptual focus to the module.

Learning Outcomes

1. Critically assess and discuss key features of African politics, such as the colonial legacy, neo-patrimonialism, ethnic identity, structural adjustment policies, democratisation and the politics of aid;
2. Analyze the state-society relationship in Africa in a variety of contexts and from different theoretical perspectives;
3. Engage with these theoretical debates and literature through concrete case studies from different African countries and regions;
4. Communicate independent research and reading orally in groups, and in written form, and engage in class debates on the subject;
5. Reflect on the nature of 'Africa' and 'African politics' as a discrete unit of study.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24Lecture and student presentations
Total Workload: 24

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Introduction and review
This section provides an overview of the course, introducing some of the key issues within contemporary African politics and development.

Colonialism and its contemporary legacies
This section traces the political and developmental consequences of the different models of colonialism pursued on the continent. It includes analyses of post-independence politics, neopatrimonialism, clientelism, ethnicity and conflict.

The politics of development finance
This section traces the political and developmental consequences of international financing strategies in Africa from independence onwards. It includes an analysis of the causes and consequences of the debt crisis, the effectiveness of debt relief initiatives such as HIPC, and the effectiveness and political implications of current aid strategies.

Donors, States and African Civil Society
This section focuses explicitly on the key political actors and traces the implications of recent shifts in governance and influence within the continent - such as the ongoing PRSP process and China's growing role in Africa - on political relations and development more broadly.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • A. Thompson: 0, An Introduction to African Politics, (London; Routledge, 2004),
  • J. Parker and R. Rathbone: 0, , African History: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford; OUP, 2007),
  • Bayart, J.F.: 1993, The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly, Longman: London.,
  • Chazan, N. et al: 1999, Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa, Basingstoke: Macmillan.,
  • Clapham, C.: 1996, Africa and the International System: The Politics of State Survival, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.,
  • Ferguson, J.: 2006, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order, Durham/London: Duke University Press.,
  • Harrison, G.: 2002, Issues in the Contemporary Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, Basingstoke: Macmillan.,
  • Hyden, G.: 2006, African Politics in a Comparative Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.,
  • Mamdani, M.: 1996, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, London: James Currey.,
  • Moss, T.: 2007, African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors, Boulder/London: Lynne Rienner.,
Other Resources

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