PIR-20092 - African Politics (Level 5)
Coordinator: Becky Richards Room: CBA1.039 Tel: +44 1782 7 33211
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

This module provides a survey of politics and government in post-colonial Africa, and a critical engagement with the placement of Africa and the African state in the global political realm. Taking a different 'liberal' political concept each week (such as democracy, legitimacy, or coercion), the module charts the dynamic relationship between the state, civil society, society, and external interests and actors in the African state and African politics. Drawing on both conceptual and empirical material, this module questions what is 'African politics' and, importantly, how do we understand it?
By the end of this module, students will have developed their knowledge and their understanding of key political events, players, and processes that have shaped post-colonial Africa and its relationship with external actors and processes. They will also be familiar with the key (competing) theoretical approaches that have been advanced to explain these phenomena. The final two weeks of the module will be run as a simulation exercise.

a. To investigate the politics in and surrounding African states and the African continent;
b. To communicate regional understandings of political understanding and practice;
c. To review and analyse the literature on African politics and Africa's place within international politics, including literature from within African states and from African scholars;
d. To critically evaluate theoretical and empirical writings pertaining to understanding and explaining politics in and around the African continent;
e. To critically evaluate the impact of colonialism on African politics and Africa's engagement with Western states;
f. To cultivate the critical skills needed to analyse and challenge common perceptions of African politics;
g. To enable students to gain experience of individual research by gathering, organising, and deploying information (from primary and secondary sources), and by identifying, analysing, and advocating potential solutions to problems;
h. To enable students to improve their presentation skills using a variety of written mediums and to gain experience of participating in and facilitating group discussions;
i. To communicate current debates and areas of new research in relation to major, contemporary issues pertaining to the politics of and in Africa.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

demonstrate developed knowledge and understanding of the key political events and processes that have occurred in post-colonial Africa: 1,2
explain the impact of the competitive relationship between state, civil society, society, and external interests in post-colonial Africa: 1,2
demonstrate developed knowledge and understanding of empirical events and processes of individual states: 1,2
persuasively communicate conclusions formed through research and critical analysis: 1,2
critically analyse the competing theoretical and conceptual approaches associated with post-colonial African scholarship: 1,2

Study hours

150 hour of student effort in total, as follows:
20 hours: contact time in 10 x 1 hour lectures; 10 x 1 hour tutorials;
50 hours: tutorial preparation;
40 hours: portfolio preparation;
30 hours: simulation & simulation assessment preparation
10 hours: independent study

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Reflective Analysis weighted 40%
Critical reflection on simulation exercise
Students will participate in a two week simulation exercise in the final two weeks of the module. Students will be asked to write a short critical reflection (1000-1500 words) on the simulation exercise. In this they will be expected to reflect on what was learned regarding African Politics and on any identified obstacles to finding political solutions in African states.

2: Portfolio weighted 60%
Students will compile a portfolio consisting of minimum one paragraph, no more than 1 side A4, per non-simulation exercise tutorial week (8 in total). The paragraph will be a short summary and critical engagement with a key set reading for that week's topic. The purpose of the assessment is to help students develop 1) academic literacy; and 2) critical engagement with academic texts. The portfolio, in its entirety, will be submitted at the end of the module. Students will be given the opportunity for formative feedback on reading paragraphs in the first few weeks of the module. Marking for the paragraphs will prioritise attempt over success. This is necessary for encouraging the promotion of a skill, which students may not be experienced in at this stage in their academic career.