EH413      Half Unit
African Economic Development in Historical Perspective

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leigh Gardner SAR 507


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MRes/PhD in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Many of Africa's current economic challenges, from persistent poverty to the weakness of state institutions, have deep historical roots.  This course provides an introduction to the economic history of sub-Saharan Africa since the medieval period.  Its overall aim is to bring Africa and Africans into global economic history, allowing students to understand how Africans contributed to that history, as well as how global changes have influenced the patterns of African development. 

The course addresses a number of issues which are current in studies of African development, including:

• Globalization and development

• Environmental challenges

• The structure of institutions

• Economic development and welfare outcomes

Close attention is paid to the ways in which economic development is measured and assessed in different periods with the available data. Seminars address the diverse experiences of specific countries and regions in addition to broader trends.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of virtual seminars or classes and/or flipped-lectures delivered as short online videos, if necessary. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term

Formative coursework

Students are required to complete one essay or equivalent during the term.

Indicative reading

Readings for this course reflect current trends in research on African economic history and development. Indicative work includes Emmanuel Akyeampong et al (eds), Africa’s Development in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, 2014). Other such readings will include recent contributions in journals such as the Economic History Review special issue on African economic history (November 2014).

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).



Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

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: Economic History

Total students 2019/20: 9

Average class size 2019/20: 9

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half 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