Not available in 2022/23
Africa and the World Economy, 1500-2000

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Leigh Gardner SAR 5.07


This course is available on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economic History with Economics and BSc in Economics and Economic History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course examines the economic history of Africa from the medieval period to the present. Its overall aim is to situate Africa within global economic history, illustrating how Africa and Africans contributed to global economic change as well as exploring the impact of those changes on African economies.  Lectures provide a chronological introduction to significant periods in African economic history, from the trans-Saharan trade through the slave trade, colonial rule, and independence. The course ends by considering the significance of recent economic expansions and population growth. While lectures and classes focus on broader themes, assessed work includes a case study research project allowing students to learn about the diversity of experience around the continent.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. Lectures will either be recorded or given in the form of live webinars. 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.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students should expect to complete two formative assignments per term. This will include one essay or equivalent plus an assignment related to the summative case study project. Students will need to have the selection of their case study approved by the course convener by the end of MT, and prepare an outline and reading list by the middle of LT.

Indicative reading

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). For accessible introductions to a variety of themes in African economic history, see the African Economic History Network’s online textbook, The History of African Development.


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Project (30%, 3000 words) in the ST.

The research project will involve a case study (3000 words) of an African country, focused on one of the themes/questions addressed in the course. 

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2021/22: 50

Average class size 2021/22: 17

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills