IR377      Half Unit
The Politics of Peace & Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stephanie Schwartz


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, 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 peace, civil wars, and security in sub-Saharan Africa as it relates to the broader global context. Using post-independence sub-Saharan Africa as the background, we will explore the causes of civil war and determinants of peace, as well as the different political responses embraced by African leaders and politicians to other security challenges characteristic of the post-colonial period. We will study with a range of cases, including Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan and South Sudan, through which we will engage topics such as the relationship between identity and conflict, the origins of insurgency, conflict prevention, and post-conflict justice and reconciliation.


This course is delivered through seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students should post 2 discussion questions each week to Moodle.  They will also do a written response to a film assigned for viewing. Through the film response the students will practice applying theories learned in class to analyze the film in response to a guided prompt. This type of analysis will be central to their summative take-home assessment.

Indicative reading

• Ade Ajayi, J.F. 1982. “Expectations of Independence.”  Daedalus 3:2

• Mahmood Mamdani, 2001. When Victims Become Killers, Princteon: Princeton University Press., selections

• Kalyvas, Stathis N. 2003. "The Ontology of ‘Political Violence’: Action and Identity in Civil Wars." Perspectives on Politics 1 (3): 475 - 494.

• Reno, William. Warlord Politics and African States. London: Lynne Rienner, 1998. Introduction, chapters 3-4.

• Mampilly, Zachariah. Rebel rulers: Insurgent governance and civilian life during war. Cornell University Press, 2012. Selected chapters on blackboard

• Okech, Awino (2021) 'Governing Gender: Violent Extremism in Northern Nigeria.' Africa Development, 46 (3). pp. 1-19.

• De Waal, Alex. 2005. “Who are the Darfurians? Arab and African identities, violence and external engagement.” African Affairs, 104 (415): 181-205.

• Deng, Francis Mading ; Deng, Daniel J; Cahill, Kevin M New York: " Bound by Conflict: Dilemmas of the Two Sudans "Fordham University Press; 2016, selected chapters

• Cohen, Dara Kay. 2013. Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: Wartime Rape in the Sierra Leone Civil War. World Politics 65 (3): 383–415.

•  Jok, Jok Madut. "Militarization and gender violence in South Sudan." Journal of Asian and African studies 34, no. 4 (1999): 427-427

•  Fujii, Lee Ann. "Killing neighbors." In Killing Neighbors. Cornell University Press, 2010.

• Alan Kuperman, “Rwanda in Retrospect,” Foreign Affairs (January/February 2001); and Alison Des Forges, et al. response to Kuperman

• Samantha Power, “Bystanders to Genocide,” The Atlantic Monthly 288, no 2 (September 2001): 84-108.

• Berry, Marie E. War, women, and power: From violence to mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

• Autesserre, S., 2010. The trouble with the Congo: Local violence and the failure of international peacebuilding (Vol. 115). Cambridge University Press., selections

•  Roland Paris, “Peacebuilding: The Limits of Liberal Internationalism,” International Security, Vol. 22, no. 2 (1997).

• Msimang, Sisonke. “All Is Not Forgiven: South Africa and the Scars of Apartheid. (Essay).” Foreign Affairs 97, no. 1 (January 1, 2018): 28–34.

•  Chapman, Audrey R. 2007. “Truth Commissions and Intergroup Forgiveness: The Case of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 13(1): 51–69.

•  Longman, Timothy. 2017. Memory and Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda. Cambridge University Press. Selected Chapters on Blackboard


Class participation (20%).
Take-home assessment (80%) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

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