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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Social and Political Science

Undergraduate Course: Understanding Africa (LLLJ07012)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis is a for-credit course offered by the Office of Lifelong Learning (OLL): only students registered with OLL should be enrolled.

This course will examine the fundamental issues and problems faced by Africa from a socio-political perspective. We will consider: the history and institutions of pre-independent Africa; the characteristics of different African states; the post-Cold war era and crisis of the 1990s; and contemporary issues such as the collapse of states, natural resources, and globalisation.
Course description 1. Introduction:
General introduction to the course and discussion of useful textbooks.

2. Pre-colonial Africa and the Diffusion of Islam:
This class will focus on how and why Europeans arrived in Africa, and what they found when they got there.

3. From Legitimate Commerce to the Scramble for Africa
This class explores the main characteristics and the impact of the slave trade in Africa. It will also look at influences on politics, economics and society produced by the end of the Atlantic trade and the so called ¿crisis of adaptation¿.

4. The Colonisation of Africa:
This class will look at the process of colonisation, from the Berlin Conference (1884-85) onwards. It will also examine the legacy of different models of colonisation for present-day states.

5. Nationalism and Independent States:
This class explores the influence of Pan-Africanism, Pan-Negrism and Negritude on African nationalism and the creation of African states.

6. Organisation of African Union and the Second Decolonisation:
This class will concentrate on interstate organisations in Africa, particularly the successes and failures of the OAU regarding the decolonisation process and state formation.

7. Crisis and Collapse of the State:
This class investigates the major contributing factors of the economic and political crises of the 1980s which led to the collapse of many African states.

8. Resource Curse or Resource Blessing?
Natural resources have always been very important for the destiny of many African territories/states. This class looks at the effects that competition for resources in the 1990s had on several regions.

9. Old or New Super-Powers? USA and China in Africa:
This class will examine how shifts in the balance of world power have affected Africa and will look at who the major players are today.

10. Africa in the New Millennium: Changes of the Continent
This class considers recent issues, such as the democratisation process in states like South Africa and the crisis in the Great Lakes Region.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs No
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should be able to:
* Demonstrate the knowledge of the creation of African states;
* Understand the basis of the socio-economic development of the continent;
* Relate changes in the balance of world power to African collapse in the 1990s;
* Understand the contemporary situation in Africa and identify likely future issues;
* Engage in further African studies, by way of in-depth courses and selecting appropriate sources.
Reading List
Thomson, A., 2004. An Introduction to African Politics (2nd ed.), London: Routledge.

Cooper, F., 2007. Africa Since 1940. The Past of the Present. Cambridge University Press.
Nugent, P., 2004. Africa since independence: a comparative history. Houndmills, Eng: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pollock, G., 2007. Back to the Future: Understanding China's Return to Africa and its Implications for U.S. Policy, Journal of Public and International Affairs, 18, pp. 55-79.
Reid, R., 2012. History of Modern Africa, 1800 to the Present. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Robinson, D., 2004. Muslim Societies in African History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Chapters 3-4.

Web sources:
All Africa Global Media:
BBC World Africa:
IRIN humanitarian news and analysis:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr James Mooney
Tel: (0131 6)50 3077
Course secretaryMr Benjamin Mcnab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832
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