EH413      Half Unit
African Economic Development in Historical Perspective

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stefania Galli SAR 615


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.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access).  In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply, but that may not continue to be the case.

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, while we are planning for most classes and seminars to be delivered in-person, it is possible that some or all of this teaching may have to be delivered virtually.  Lectures will either be recorded or given in the form of live webinars.

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.

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.

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: Economic History

Total students 2020/21: 10

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Controlled access 2020/21: 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