Africa and the World Economy, 1500-2000

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leigh Gardner SAR 5.07


This course is available on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economic History with Economics and BSc in Economics and Economic History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course examines the economic history of Sub-Saharan Africa from the medieval period to the present. Its overall aim is to situate Africa within global economic history, illustrating how Africa and Africans contributed to global economic change as well as exploring the impact of those changes on African economies.  Lectures provide a chronological introduction to significant periods in African economic history, from the trans-Saharan trade through the slave trade, colonial rule, and independence. The course ends by considering the significance recent economic expansions and population growth. While lectures and classes focus on broader themes, assessed work includes a case study research project allowing students to learn about the diversity of experience around the continent.


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

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students should expect to complete two formative assignments per term. This will include one essay or equivalent plus an assignment related to the summative case study project. Students will need to have the selection of their case study approved by the course convener by the end of MT, and prepare an outline and reading list by the middle of LT.


Indicative reading

For a general overview of African history over the period, see R.J. Reid, A History of Modern Africa (2009); J. Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (1995). Specific texts on African economic history include R. Austen, African Economic History (1987); R. Bates, Essays on the Political Economy of Rural Africa (1983); C. Feinstein, Conquest, Discrimination and Development: an Economic History of South Africa (2005); J. Forbes Munro, Africa and the International Economy, 1800-1950 (1976); A. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (1973); R.M.A van Zwanenberg and A. King, An Economic History of Kenya and Uganda, 1800-1970 (1975)


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Project (30%, 3000 words) in the ST.

The research project will involve a case study (3000 words) of an African country, focused on one of the themes/questions addressed in the course. 

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 2018/19: 32

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One 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