DV435      Half Unit
African Political Economy

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Catherine Boone


This course is compulsory on the MSc in African Development. This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies and MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This class is an introduction to the study of contemporary African political economy. The goal is to set major questions of state, national economy, development in historical, geographic, and international context. Course readings and lectures stress marked unevenness in national and sub-national trajectories and in the political-economic character of different African countries, drawing attention to causes of similarity and difference across and within countries. Students will come away with a better understanding of the economic and social underpinnings of order and conflict in African states.


20 hours of lectures and 15 hours of classes in the MT.

There will be a ninety minute revision session in late LT or early ST.


Formative coursework

Optional formative essay due in November.

Indicative reading

David E. Bloom, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Paul Collier, Christopher Udry, "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, vol. 1988, n. 2 (1998): 207-295.

Benno J. Ndulu, "The Evolution of Global Development Paradigms and their Influence on African Growth [through policy]," in Benno J. Ndulu et al, The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa: 1960-2000, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 315-345.

Fred Cooper, Africa Since 1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Keith Hart, The Political Economy of West African Agriculture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

Jeffrey Herbst, States and Power in Africa (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Samir Amin, "Underdevelopment and Dependence in Black Africa: Origins and Contemporary Forms," Journal of Modern African Studies, 10.4 (1972): 503-24.

Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Africa and the Legacy of late Colonialism (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1996).

Catherine Boone, Property and Political Order in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

J.F. Ade Ajayi, "Expectations of Independence," Daedalus, vol. 111, n. 2 (1982): 1-9.

Kate Meagher, Identity Economics, Social Networks and the Informal Economy in Africa (James Currey 2010).

Thandika Mkandawire, "Thinking about Developmental States in Africa," Cambridge Journal of Economics, 25 (2001): 289-313.

Abiodun Alao, Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa: The Tragedy of Endowment (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007).

Jean-Paul Azam, "The Redistributive State and Conflict in Africa," Journal of Peace Research 38/4 (2001): 429-444.


Exam (80%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (20%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2014/15: 60

Average class size 2014/15: 15

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information