DV418      Half Unit
African Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Laura Mann CON. 6.19 (co-convenor)

Prof Thandika Mkandawire CON 6.16 (co-convenor)


This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Urbanisation and Development and Master of Public Administration. This course is not available as an outside option.

Please note that in case of over-subscription to this course priority will be given to students from the Department of International Development and its joint degrees (where their regulations permit).

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 protection, cash transfers, Millennium Development Goals, horizontal inequality and conflict.


20 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

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

There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will write a 2,000 word essay chosen from class questions and in discussion with the course leader, to be submitted by the beginning of week 6 of Lent Term.

Indicative reading

A detailed weekly reading list will be provided at the first course meeting. The following readings provide an introduction to the course:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. London: James Currey, 1996.
  6. Mann, L. (Forthcoming) Corporations Left to Other Peoples’ Devices: A Political Economy Perspective on the Big Data Revolution in Development Development and Change.
  7. 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).
  8. Mkandawire, Thandika. 2014. "The Spread of Economic Doctrines and Policymaking in Postcolonial Africa." African Studies Review 57(01):171-98.
  9. Mkandawire, Thandika. 2015. "Neopatrimonialism and the Political Economy of Economic Performance in Africa: Critical Reflections." World Politics:1-50.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Nick Van de Walle, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  13. Paul Nugent, Africa Since Independence: A Comparative History. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan: 2004.
  14. R.H. Bates, When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  15. Ricardo Rene Laremont (ed), Borders, Nationalism and the African State. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005.
  16. Robert Bates, Markets and States in Tropical Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.
  17. Steven Radelet, Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development, 2010.
  18. Thandika Mkandawire and Charles Soludo, Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment. Dakar/Trenton, NJ: CODESRIA / African World Publications, 1999.
  19. 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.
  20. UNCTAD. Economic Development in Africa: From Adjustment to Poverty Reduction: What is New? Geneva: United Nations, 2002.
  21. Vishnu Padayachee (ed), The Political Economy of Africa. London: Routledge, 2010.
  22. White, Howard and Tony Killick. African Poverty at the Millennium: Causes, Complexities, and Challenges. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001.
  23. Whitfield, L., et al. (2015). The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ Press.
  24. Whitfield, L., Therkildsen, O., Buur, L., & KjÆr, A. M. (2015). The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press.
  25. World Bank (200) Can Africa Claim the 21st Century? Washington, DC: World Bank, 2000.


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (10%, 2000 words) in the LT Week 5.
Podcast (20%) in the LT Week 11.

The podcast will be a group podcast project. 

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.7
Merit 60
Pass 21.7
Fail 0.6

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2018/19: 69

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication