EH413      Half Unit
African Economic Development in Historical Perspective

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leigh Gardner CMK.C322


This course is available on the MA Global Studies: A European Perspective, MRes in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in Global History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course examines the connection between history and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. It draws on an emerging literature in economic history which assesses the continuing influence of historical events on development outcomes today. Each week will focus on a pivotal event in Africa's economic history, including the Atlantic slave trade, the colonial period and the post-independence 'growth tragedy'. Readings will include primary sources as well as secondary literature in order to build research skills in African economic history. Seminars focus on specific case studies which illustrate the possible mechanisms by which historical events have continued to shape African economic development.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

2-hour meetings weekly, with a flexible combination of lectures and seminars.

Formative coursework

Students are required to make one class presentation and submit one paper during the term.

Indicative reading

J. Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (2nd edition, 2007); F. Cooper, Africa Since 1940 (2002); A. G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (1973); R. H. Bates, Essays on the Political Economy of Rural Africa (1983); R. Austen, African Economic History (1987); J. Sender & S. Smith, The Development of Capitalism in Africa (1986); M. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996); J. Herbst, States and Power in Africa (2000); C. H. Feinstein, An Economic History of South Africa (2005); R. H. Bates, When Things Fell Apart (2008).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Teachers' comment

Survey questions on feedback to students may be non-informative because assessed work comes later in the term than the survey.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2012/13: 27

Average class size 2012/13: 13

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills