DV418      Half Unit
African Development

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Eyob Balcha Gebremariam CON. 6.18A (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 politics of development in the African context. The course will examine processes of historical, 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 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; urbanisation, demographic transition, institutional reforms and state capacity. Attention will also be paid to social policy with special focus on issues such as social protection and welfare, youth employment, education, health, 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.

The first 30 minutes of each seminar will be student-led presentation and discussion. Students will make a 10-12 minute presentation in a maximum group of three and lead a discussion based of a set of questions provided on the theme of the week.

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 1,500-word essay chosen from class questions and in discussion with the course leader, to be submitted by the Wednesday at 12:00 of the reading week.

Indicative reading

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

1. Botchwey, K. and Stein, H., 2012. Good growth and governance in Africa: Rethinking development strategies. Oxford University Press.

2. 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).

3. Adesina, J.O., Graham, Y. and Olukoshi, A. eds., 2006. Africa and development challenges in the new millennium: The NEPAD debate (No. 5). Zed Books.

4. Mkandawire, Thandika. 2014. "The Spread of Economic Doctrines and Policymaking in Postcolonial Africa." African Studies Review 57(01):171-98.

5. Mkandawire, Thandika. 2015. "Neopatrimonialism and the Political Economy of Economic Performance in Africa: Critical Reflections." World Politics:1-50.

6. Thandika Mkandawire and Charles Soludo, Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment. Dakar/Trenton, NJ: CODESRIA / African World Publications, 1999.

7. Ndulu, B.J., Azam, J.P., O'Connell, S.A., Bates, R.H., Fosu, A.K., Gunning, J.W. and Nijinkeu, D. eds., 2008. The political economy of economic growth in Africa, 1960-2000 (Vol. 2). Cambridge University Press.

8. Geda, A. and Shimeless, A., 2006. Openness, inequality and poverty in Africa. UN, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

9. Geda, A., 2019. The Historical Origin of the African Economic Crisis: From Colonialism to China. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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.

10. 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.

11. Herbst, Jeffrey. 2000. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Reasons in Authority and Control. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press

12. 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.

13. Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. London: James Currey, 1996.

14. Mann, L., 2018. Left to other peoples’ devices? A political economy perspective on the big data revolution in development. Development and Change, 49(1), pp.3-36.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Nick Van de Walle, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

18. Paul Nugent, Africa Since Independence: A Comparative History. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan: 2004.

19. Ricardo Rene Laremont (ed), Borders, Nationalism and the African State. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005.

20. Steven Radelet, Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development, 2010.

21. 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.

22. UNCTAD. Economic Development in Africa: From Adjustment to Poverty Reduction: What is New? Geneva: United Nations, 2002.

23. Vishnu Padayachee (ed), The Political Economy of Africa. London: Routledge, 2010.

24. White, Howard and Tony Killick. African Poverty at the Millennium: Causes, Complexities, and Challenges. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001.

25. Whitfield, L., et al. (2015). The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ Press.

26. Whitfield, L., Therkildsen, O., Buur, L., & Kjar, A. M. (2015). The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press.

27. World Bank (200) Can Africa Claim the 21st Century? Washington, DC: World Bank, 2000.


Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the ST Week 1.
Continuous assessment (10%).

Presentation & Class Participation (10%)

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.4
Merit 65.8
Pass 21.2
Fail 0.5

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2019/20: 44

Average class size 2019/20: 11

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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