DV518      Half Unit
African Development

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Keen CON 7.16, Dr Diana Weinhold CON 7.10, Prof Thandika Mkandawire CON 8.02 and Dr Laura Mann CON 6.19

Head of Department, Doctoral Programme Directors, MSc Course Convenor and PhD Supervisor


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in International Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The major concern of the course is with the political economy of African development, to examine processes of economic, political, social and cultural change in Sub-Saharan Africa. It provides critical analysis of key development interventions and processes. It seeks to combine general theoretical overviews with country case studies illustrating the variety of experiences and trajectories. It does not aim to provide a comprehensive coverage of development issues or of regions. Course content will vary from year to year, depending on the specialities of staff.

Attention is paid to legacies of the colonial encounter; the constraints and opportunities presented by African countries' positions in the global economy; the political economy of industrialisation and agrarian transformation, resource mobilisation; trade diversification; institutional reforms and state capacity. Attention will also be paid to social policy with special focus on issues such as  social social protection, cash transfers, Millennium Development Goals, horizontal inequality and conflict.


16 hours and 30 minutes of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

A plan for the research paper (1500-2000 words) on which the student will receive feedback and topic approval

Indicative reading

Eastwood, R. & M. Lipton, 2011. Demographic transition in sub-Saharan Africa: How big will the economic dividend be? Population Studies: A Journal of Demography, 65(1), 9-35.

Handley, Antoinette (2008) Business and the State in Africa: Economic Policy-Making in the Neo-Liberal Era Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 7: Conclusion, the Business of Economic Policy-making, Comparatively Speaking, pgs. 242-263

Herbst, Jeffrey. 2000. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Reasons in Authority and Control. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. (pp36-57)Brett, E.A. (1986) ‘State power and economic inefficiency: Explaining political failure in Africa,’ IDS Bulletin, 17(10 22-29

Hickey, S. 2008. “Conceptualising the Politics of Social Protection in Africa,” in  Social Protection for the Poor and the Poorest:  Concepts, Policies and Politics, eds. A. Barrientos and D. Hulme, Chapter 13. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. London: James Currey, 1996.

Mann, L. (Forthcoming) Corporations Left to Other Peoples’ Devices: A Political Economy Perspective on the Big Data Revolution in Development Development and Change

Mkandawire, Thandika. (2017). State Capacity, History, Structure, and Political Contestation in Africa. In M. A. Centeno, A. Kohli, D. J. Yashar, & D. Mistree (Eds.), (pp. 184-216).

Mkandawire, Thandika. 2014. "The Spread of Economic Doctrines and Policymaking in Postcolonial Africa." African Studies Review 57(01):171-98.

Mkandawire, Thandika. 2015. "Neopatrimonialism and the Political Economy of Economic Performance in Africa: Critical Reflections." World Politics:1-50.

Murphy, J. T., Carmody, P., and Surborg, B. (2014) “Industrial transformation or business as usual? Information and communication technologies and Africa's place in the global information economy” Review of African Political Economy 41(140): 264-283.

Ndikumana, Leonce and James Boyce. 2010. "Africa's revolving door: external borrowing and capital flight in sub-Saharan Africa," in The Political Economy of Africa. Vishnu Padayachee ed. London: Abingdon, pp. 132-51.

Nick Van de Walle, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Paul Nugent, Africa Since Independence: A Comparative History. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan: 2004.

R.H. Bates, When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Ricardo Rene Laremont (ed), Borders, Nationalism and the African State. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005.

Robert Bates, Markets and States in Tropical Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

Steven Radelet, Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way. Washington, DC: Centre for Global Development, 2010.

Thandika Mkandawire and Charles Soludo, Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment. Dakar/Trenton, NJ: CODESRIA / African World Publications, 1999.

Ulriksen, M. S. (2012). "Welfare Policy Expansion in Botswana and Mauritius: Explaining the Causes of Different Welfare Regime Paths." Comparative political studies 45(12): 1483-1509.

UNCTAD. Economic Development in Africa: From Adjustment to Poverty Reduction: What is New? Geneva: United Nations, 2002.

Vishnu Padayachee (ed), The Political Economy of Africa. London: Routledge, 2010.

White, Howard and Tony Killick. African Poverty at the Millennium: Causes, Complexities, and Challenges. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001.

Whitfield, L., et al. (2015). The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ Press.

Whitfield, L., Therkildsen, O., Buur, L., & Kjær, A. M. (2015). The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press.

World Bank (200) Can Africa Claim the 21st Century? Washington, DC: World Bank, 2000.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

1 x 5000 word research paper to be submitted on the first Friday of the Summer Term.  The research paper will be co-marked by the course convenor and the student's PhD supervisor.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2017/18: 2

Average class size 2017/18: 1

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication