GV335      Half Unit
African Political Economy

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Catherine Boone CON 6.04


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course is capped at 1 group. The deadline for enrolments is 12:00 noon, Friday 29 September, 2017.

Course content

This class is an introduction to the study of contemporary African political economy.  The goal is to set major questions of state and economy in historical, geographic, and international context.  Course readings and lectures stress marked unevenness in national and subnational trajectories and in the political-economic character of different African countries, and introduce students to theories that aim to identify causes of similarity and difference across and within countries.  Students will come away with a better understanding of the possibilities and limits of structured, focused comparisons in comparative politics, and with an introduction to  political economy approaches to questions of late development.  They will also develop substantive knowledge of the political economy of sub-Saharan Africa and analytic tools to describe and make sense of its diversity.


20 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the MT.

This course shares lectures with DV435 African Political Economy. Seminar classes are separate for undergraduate students.

There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

There will be one 1,200 formative assignment (short essay). 

Indicative reading

Texts used may include all or part of the following:

Fred Cooper, Africa Since 1940 (Cambridge U. Press)

Keith Hart, The Political Economy of West African Agriculture (Cambridge, 1983)

Jeffrey Herbst, States and Power in Africa (Princeton 2000)

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

Will Reno, Warfare in Independent Africa (Cambridge 2011)

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

Sara Berry, No Condition is Permanent: The Social Dynamics of Agrarian Change in Africa (U. of Wisconsin Press)

Crawford Young, The Postcolonial State in Africa: Fifty Years of Independence


Essay (75%, 2000 words) in the LT.
In class assessment (25%).

For the in-class assessment: Students will be asked to write one-page feedback papers on selected weeks' readings and to participate in class discussions. In the last class meeting, each student will give a 5-minute overview of his/her plans for the final course essay. Participation assessment is designed to motivate students to keep up with the readings and to contribute actively to class discussion.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2016/17: 9

Average class size 2016/17: 9

Capped 2016/17: Yes (8)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

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

Course survey results

(2015/16 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 63%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)