Not available in 2019/20
IR477      Half Unit
Sub-Saharan Africa: Governance, Peace, and Security

This information is for the 2019/20 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 sub-Saharan 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 role played by countries in the global north 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 1 essay and 6 other pieces of coursework in the LT.

For six of the ten sessions, students on the course will submit a one-page reading memo of approximately 600 words, pulling together key themes from that week's discussions.

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)

• Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern. 2008. “Why Do Soldiers Rape? Masculinity, Violence, and Sexuality in the Armed Forces in the Congo” International Studies Quarterly

• 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

• Nancy Rose Hunt. 1998. “‘Le Bebe En Brousse’: European Women, African Birth Spacing and Colonial Intervention in Breast Feeding in the Belgian Congo.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 21: 3 pp. 401–32

• 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

• Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism  (PUP: 1996)

• Laura Mann and Marie Berry. 2016. "Understanding the Political Motivations That Shape Rwanda's Emergent Developmental State" New Political Economy. Volume 21: 1

• 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 (80%, 4000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (20%).

Students will submit a 4,000 word essay (80%) due in week 1 of the ST.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2018/19: 14

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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