IR477      Half Unit
Africa: Governance, Peace, and Security

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Milli Lake


This course is available on the MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research) and MSc in International Relations Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission of the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application linked to LSE for You.  Admission to the course is not guaranteed.

Course content

This course examines contemporary African politics and society in three parts, exploring some of the toughest challenges the continent has faced in the post-independence period. It begins with a review of twentieth century African politics, exploring the experiences and legacies of colonial occupation, and what these tell us about the present day. Following this, it  turns to the common challenges of the post-independence period, as newly created states struggle to establish and maintain authority at home while finding their place in the international system. Finally, it explores humanitarian governance and development aid in the twenty-first century, drawing from literature spanning a wide variety of subfields and epistemological traditions. This component of the course considers the nature of public and private authority, as well as the west's role in intervening in the domestic political affairs of sovereign states.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

In line with departmental policy, students on the course will have a reading week in week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 10 other pieces of coursework and 1 other piece of coursework in the LT.

Students on the course will be expected to write weekly think pieces of about 300-350 words that respond to and pick up on issues, topics, concepts raised in the week's readings.

In addition, students will produce an assessed essay outline in week 10 consisting of a research question, an overview of the argument, a draft structure and an indicative reading list.  Feedback will be provided via email and/or individual sessions with students.

Indicative reading

  • Séverine Autesserre, ‘Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and Their Unintended Consequences’, African Affairs (2012)
  • Alex de Waal, Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Industry in Africa (Indian University Press, 2009)
  • Pierre Englebert and Denis Tull, ‘Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Africa:  Flawed Ideas about Failed States’,  International Security 32:4 (2008)
  • Thomas Flores and Irfan Nooruddin, Elections in Hard Times: Building Stronger Democracies in the 21st Century (CUP: 2016)
  • Jeffrey Herbst, ‘Power and Space in Pre-Colonial Africa’ in States and Power in Africa. (Princeton University Press, 2014), pp. 35-57
  • Robert Jackson and Carl Rosberg, ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood’ World Politics (35:1 1982), pp.1-24
  • James D. Long, Karuti Kanyinga, Karen E. Ferree, Clark C. Gibson, ‘Choosing Peace over Democracy’, Journal of Democracy (24:3, 2013) pp. 140-155
  • Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism  (PUP: 1996)
  • Gregory Mann, From Empires to NGOs in the West African Sahel: The Road to Nongivernmentality (CUP:2015)
  • Paul Nugent, ‘African Independence: Poisoned Chalice or Cup of Plenty?’ in Africa Since Independence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 7-57.
  • Nathan Nunn and Leonard Wantchekon, ‘The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa’ (excerpts), American Economic Review (101: 7, 2011), pp. 3221-6, 3249-50.
  • Daniel Posner, ‘The Colonial Origins of Ethnic Cleavages: The Case of Linguistic Divisions in Zambia’, Comparative Politics (35:2, 2003), pp. 127-146.
  • William Reno, Warfare in Independent Africa (CUP, 2011)
  • Aili Mari Tripp, Women and Power in Post-Conflict Africa (CUP: 2015)


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Students will submit a 4,000 word essay (100%) due in week 1 of the ST.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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