DV435      Half Unit
African Political Economy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Catherine Boone


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies 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

This is an introduction to the study of contemporary African political economy, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.  The goal of DV435 to set major questions of state, national economy, and development in historical, geographic, and international context.  Course readings and lectures stress marked unevenness in national and subnational trajectories and in the political-economic character of different African countries, drawing attention to causes of similarity and difference across and within countries.  Students completing DV435 will come away with a better understanding of the economic and social underpinnings of order and conflict in African states. 

There is a research-driven component to DV435: each student will read secondary literature, grey literature, and other sources to develop particular knowledge of two countries.  These will be used as "case studies" in assessed coursework to evaluate general arguments concerning the political economy of Africa, and to compare/contrast the historical trajectories of different African states.

The course includes an optional weekly film series that provides an additional venue for discussion of course themes.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars in the MT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration.

Student on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Optional formative essay due in Week 7.

Indicative reading

Celestin Monga and Justin Yifu Lin, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics, Vol. 2, Politices and Practices (OUP 2015).


Fouad Makki, "Postcolonial Africa and the World Economy: The Long Waves of Uneven Development," Journal of World-Systems Research, 21/1 (2014): 124-146.


Morten Jerven, Poor Numbers: How we are misled by African development statistics and what we can do about it (Cornell U. Press, 2011).


Fred Cooper, Africa Since 1940 (Cambridge University Press [2002], 2019).


Samir Amin, "Underdevelopment and Dependence in Black Africa: Origins and Contemporary Forms," Journal of Modern African Studies, 10.4 (1972): 503-24.


Leigh Gardner, Taxing Colonial Africa: The Political Economy of British Imperialism (Oxford U. Press, 2012).


Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Africa and the Legacy of late Colonialism (Princeton University Press, 1996).


David E. Bloom, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Paul Collier, Christopher Udry, "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, vol. 1988/ 2 (1998): 207-295.


Thandika Mkandawire, "Thinking about Developmental States in Africa," Cambridge Journal of Economics, 25 (2001): 289-313.


Benno J. Ndulu al, The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa: 1960-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2008).


Dzodzi Tsikata, "Gender, Land Tenure, and Agrarian Production Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa," Agrarian South: J. of Political Economy (Nov. 2016).


Foster-McGregor, Neil, Florian Kaulich and Robert Stehrer. 2015. Global Value Chains in Africa, Maastricht, UNIDO/UNU.


Said Adejumobi, ed.  National Democratic Reforms in Africa: Changes and Challenges (Palgrave Macmillian, 2015).


Kate Meagher, Identity Economics, Social Networks and the Informal Economy in Africa (James Currey 2010).


Nitsan Chorev, Give and Take: Developmental Foreign Aid and the Pharmaceutical Industry in East Africa PUP 2019


Jon Schubert, Ulf Engel, and Eliisio Salvado Macamo, eds., Extractive industries andchanging state dynamics in Africa : beyond the resource curse (London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis 2018)


Arkebe Oqubay  and Justin Yifu Lin, eds., China-Africa and an Economic Transformation (Oxford University Press, 2019).


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the LT Week 1.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.9
Merit 76.7
Pass 2.7
Fail 0.7

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 44

Average class size 2020/21: 14

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information