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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : African Studies

Undergraduate Course: Africa in the Contemporary World (AFRI08008)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10

This course will offer a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the study of contemporary Africa. Students will gain an insight into key concepts and themes as well as the theoretical and methodological debates that are critical for understanding the changing continent. They will acquire substantive knowledge about the history, politics, economy, anthropology and culture of the continent. Key themes include: democracy and the state, citizenship and identity, poverty and economic change, cities, popular culture, aid and debt, migration, civil war and conflict, land and environment, family, cities.
Course description The aim of the course is to introduce students to the exciting inter-disciplinary study of contemporary Africa. The course will engage with African societies by examining the history, politics, economy, anthropology and culture of the continent and will explicitly draw on a range of disciplinary approaches. By taking this course students will gain knowledge of contemporary Africa and will be sensitized to the diverse experiences of continuity and change on the continent and how Africa is situated and understood by different actors within global debates on topical issues.

Africa in the Contemporary World will appeal to students from a diverse range of courses that touch on issues related to contemporary Africa. It will also be appealing to students who wish to go to Africa to pursue work or study. For students who wish to continue to study Africa in more depth, the course will expose students to a range of disciplines and research processes relevant to the study of contemporary Africa. Africa is also a focus for students interested in questions of international development and globalization and the course will address and provide a context for a deeper engagement with these topics.

The lectures will cover two related topics each week and will be delivered by lecturers from the Centre of African Studies as well as lecturers from across the school who will bring expertise on specific topics for this introductory course.

Tutorials will provide the opportunity for students to discuss and develop their own ideas and form an independent response to the readings and lectures. The tutors will assist in clarifying key concepts and will assist students in developing a critical analysis of the material. The tutors will also provide feedback on presentations and support the peer feedback sessions on essay plans.

Students will be encouraged to attend extra-curricular events run by the Centre of African Studies and the School such as film screenings and seminar series as well as University talks on topics related to Africa. Students will also be encouraged to read a number of contemporary African novels.

Indicative Themes:

Africa and the long duree
Colonialism and post-colonialism
Liberation struggles and nationalism
Citizenship, ethnicity and identity
Social movements and democratization
Law and governance
Conflict and civil war
Poverty and economic change
Aid, debt and trade
The informal economy
China in Africa
Land and the environment
Food security and climate change
Population dynamics
Health and disease
Religion, gender and the family
Popular culture
Is Africa Rising? For Whom?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  250
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 167 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1) 40% written assignment (choice of essay question) 2000 words due week 7
2) 10% Tutorial participation
3) 50% exam
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)Africa in the Contemporary World2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Africa in the Contemporary World2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate the scope, defining features and core issues in the study of contemporary Africa from a multidisciplinary perspective
  2. demonstrate specialist knowledge of the diversity and complexity of the continent and will have gained a critical awareness of their own positionality vis a vis an understanding of contemporary Africa
  3. examine and evaluate competing arguments and have strengthened their skills in developing informed and independent arguments
  4. recognise the range of disciplinary approaches that can be used in the study of contemporary Africa and will have gained an understanding of a range of the core theories, concepts, principles and terminology related to the study of contemporary Africa
  5. discuss the range of research that is being undertaken on contemporary Africa and will have an understanding of the scholarly processes undertaken within research. In this regard, students will be prepared for further study of Africa across a range of disciplines
Reading List
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, Half of a Yellow Sun, Knopf, 2006

Chabal, Patrick & Jean-Pascal Deloz, Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument Oxford, 1999

Grinker, R. et al. Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation, London, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

de Waal, Alex. Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief Industry in Africa, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997

Mosely, W Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial African Issues, 4th Edition Guilford, McGraw Hill

Mbembe, Achille. On the Postcolony. Berkely: University of California Press, 2001

J. Iliffe, Africans: The history of a continent, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007

Padayachee, V The Political Economy of Africa, London: Routledge, 2010.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr George Karekwaivanane
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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