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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Building Blocks of African Studies (PGSP11417)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study of Africa and will equip them with the key theories and concepts with which to understand the continent in all its complexity. It will survey the history, politics, and anthropology of sub-Saharan Africa, and examine how these and other disciplines have shaped perceptions of and research on Africa, past and present. The course aims to understand the continent's diversity, contradictions, and challenges in its own right as well as in comparative perspective. Students will study the roles of African people, places, and processes in local and regional power structures and global systems, from the micro- to macro-level. The course will use media and popular culture to explore contemporary issues. Students will be encouraged to think critically and creatively about current affairs and African futures.
Course description Africa today faces unprecedented opportunities for growth and prosperity, and ever more complex challenges to peace and sustainability. This course will introduce students to the key theories and concepts needed to understand the world's fastest growing continent. It will break free of common misconceptions of Africa to understand its diverse states, societies, and issues in context. Students will be expected to read widely - gaining familiarity with contemporary issues affecting the continent - and in depth, where they will hone their expertise on selected countries and topics. The course is grounded in the core disciplines of African Studies - politics, history, and anthropology - and will also draw on media, arts, and culture, business and economics, geography, other social sciences. This interdisciplinary approach will prepare students for theoretically rigorous and empirically grounded analysis and understanding.

As a 'building blocks' course, students will leave with a toolkit of disciplinary approaches, theories, terms and concepts, levels of analysis, and empirical case studies, through which to rigorously analyse and understand African issues. Throughout the course, students will be expected to reflect on their own identities and positionality. We will not construct an understanding of 'Africa' as a unified whole, but rather will examine its states and societies, processes and places in their full diversity. The ultimate objective of this course is to give students the tools with which to comprehend Africa's complex issues and seemingly contradictory realities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Students will be assessed on three formal assignments, two of which are part of a formative assessment and feedback process, and the third of which is summative:
(i) In-class presentation and full participation in seminar discussions (10%); students will be marked by transparent criteria and feedback will be provided on the day for presentations; consideration will be given to students' diverse communication and learning styles and language skills, and students are expected to demonstrate growth and improvement in the quality of their comments and contributions in class over the course of the semester;
(ii) A 1,000-word essay (20%) due at the halfway point of the semester; this essay will follow the writing-as-process pedagogy to help students structure their ideas, organize persuasive academic arguments, and digest academic literature for the social sciences; students will receive feedback from this essay prior to the summative assignment to ensure they have developed basic research and writing skills;
(iii) A 3,000-word essay (70%) due after the final class; prior to the deadline, students will be encouraged to submit an essay abstract or outline to the instructor and will receive formal feedback on how to write a successful piece of academic writing for research.
Feedback, as well as terms and conditions of assessment will be in line with School and University guidance and best practices.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate critical knowledge and understanding of the key theories, concepts and issues most central to African Studies;
  2. Apply the knowledge, skills, and understanding gained in the course through academic and day-to-day engagement with research and news about Africa;
  3. Critically analyse, synthesize, and evaluate research and contemporary debates about African issues, and navigate complex issues to make informed opinions and analyses;
  4. Communicate through empirically grounded and theoretically informed written work and oral presentations, their knowledge of African Studies and related issues
  5. Demonstrate autonomy, accountability, and initiative in their ability to question, examine, and understand key issues affecting Africa, through independent research.
Reading List
Bates, Robert H., Vumbi Y. Mudimbe, and Jean F. O'Barr (eds) Africa and the Disciplines: The contributions of research in Africa to the social sciences and humanities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Comaroff, Jean, and John Comaroff. "Africa Observed: Discourses of the imperial imagination." Perspectives on Africa: a reader in culture, history, and representation. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1997. (689-703).

Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 1965.

Mamdani, Mahmood. Citizen and Subject. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Mbembé, Achille. On the Postcolony. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Ranger, Terence. "The invention of tradition in colonial Africa." Perspectives on Africa: A reader in culture, history, and representation. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the programme, students will be equipped with new skills in:

1. Synthesising and analysing empirical and theoretical material from a variety of sources;
2. Examining, using and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims;
3. Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account;
4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Zoe Marks
Course secretaryMs Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 5066
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