DV435      Half Unit
African Political Economy

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Catherine Boone


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Economic Policy for International Development, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development and MSc in Political Science (Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics). 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 AT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 70 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 90 minutes duration.

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

Formative coursework

Optional formative essay outline due in Week 7.

Indicative reading

Celestin Monga and Justin Yifu Lin, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics, Vol. 2, Policies 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).

Adom Getachew, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (Princeton, 2019), Ch. 5, pp. 142-175.

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

Belinda Archibong, Historical Origins of Persistent Inequality in Nigeria, Oxford Development Studies, 46/3 (2018): 325-347.

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

Jon Schubert, Ulf Engel, and Elísio 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%, 3000 words) in the WT Week 1.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20.4
Merit 71.5
Pass 8
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 47

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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