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Unit information: The Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020/21

Unit name The Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa
Unit code POLI21231
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Flint
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The unit considers the politics of the independent states of sub-Saharan Africa with particular emphasis on a number of core themes: the colonial legacy, the nature of the post-colonial state, society and its institutions, the nation-building projects of these states, the movement towards democratisation in the 1990s and finally the relations between African states and their relationship, in turn, with the outside world.


  • To introduce the political issues and debates relating to sub-Saharan Africa.
  • To discuss the nature of the post-colonial state in Africa and the significance of the colonial legacy.
  • To focus on aspects of African nationalism, nation-building, the movement towards democratisation in recent years and the international relations of the African states.
  • To elicit written and oral discussion of issues raised in the unit.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completing the unit the student will have developed the following:

  1. an understanding of the making of contemporary Africa.
  2. an ability to engage in scholarly seminar discussion on related topics.
  3. an ability to deliver a scholarly seminar presentation on an aspect of African politics.
  4. an ability to write in a scholarly way about African politics.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

2,000 word essay 1 (25%) 2,000 word essay 2 (75%)

Both assessments test all learning outcomes

Reading and References

  • Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics, Second Edition (London: Routledge, 2004) JQ1872 THO. 304 pages.
  • Peter J. Schraeder, African Politics and Society. A Mosaic in Transformation, Second Edition (Belmont,CA.: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2004). DT353 SCH
  • Naomi Chazan et al, Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa, Third edition (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1999). 543 pages. JQ1879.A15.
  • April A. Gordon & Donald L. Gordon (eds), Understanding Contemporary Africa, Third Edition (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001).
  • Ian Taylor and Paul Williams, Africa in International Politics. External Involvement on the Continent (London: Routledge, 2004). DT30.5 AFR
  • William Tordoff, Government and Politics in Africa, Fourth Edition (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2002).