Not available in 2020/21
IR377      Half Unit
The Politics of Governance, Development and Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Milli Lake


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

Course content

This course explores the politics of governance, peace, and security in sub-Saharan Africa as it relates to the broader global context. It will explore the divergent impacts of, and responses to, colonial policies in different locations and their legacies in the contemporary era. It will also explore the different political responses embraced by African leaders and politicians to some of the political, economic, and security challenges of the post-colonial period. In addition to emphasising diversity, the course also pulls together common challenges across the continent such as rapid decolonisation, the Cold War, structural adjustment, civil conflict, human insecurity, humanitarian intervention, and foreign aid.


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 6 other pieces of coursework and 1 other piece 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

  • Ade Ajayi, J.F. 1982. “Expectations of Independence.”  Daedalus 3:2
  • Séverine Autesserre, 'Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and Their Unintended Consequences', African Affairs (2012)
  • Catherine Boone. 1990. “The Making of a Rentier Class: Wealth Accumulation and Political Control in Senegal” The Journal of Development Studies.
  • Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz “Whither the State?” in Africa Works. Indiana University Press
  • Pierre Englebert and Denis Tull, 'Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Africa:  Flawed Ideas about Failed States',  International Security 32:4 (2008).
  • Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (PUP: 2001)
  • 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
  • William Reno, Warfare in Independent Africa (CUP: 2011)
  • Alex de Waal, Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Industry in Africa (Indiana University Press: 2009)


Essay (80%, 2500 words) in the ST.
Class participation (20%).

Students will submit a 2,500 word essay (80%) due in week 1 of 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: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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