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

Postgraduate Course: Governance, Development and Poverty in Africa (PGSP11327)

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
SummaryAfrican states are often characterized as dysfunctional or failing to deliver public services and uphold the rule of law. Drawing on the academic literature and empirical research the course examines key issues linked to governance in Africa including the influence of international organisations and other external political and economic actors, the implementation of development policies, the role of traditional authorities and customary law, civil society and corruption. The course situates the debates on good governance, development and poverty alleviation in their historical, social and political context to enable students to critically engage with development in theory and practice with a focus on sub-Sahara Africa.

Please note that this is the mandatory core course for the MSc Africa and International Development. Students from other programmes can be admitted to this course but only if they have previously taken a course on Africa, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level.
Course description Outline Content:

1. Introduction:
In this session we discuss the importance of governance in the context of development and poverty in Africa. Specifically, we will examine how the paradigm of poverty reduction gained prominence during the 1970s and how it figures in current development thinking.

2. From government to governance:
This week is devoted to some conceptual groundwork: disentangling the manifold meanings of governance in development practice and theory. Governance is both a normative and an analytical concept that has gained wide currency during the 1990s when scholars and policymakers began discussing the shift from government by state agencies to governance by multiple actors.

3. Good governance:
Since the 1990s good governance has become one of the key concepts in international development. Good governance is about transforming dysfunctional state bureaucracies into efficient and transparent service providers that are accountable to the public and subject to the rule of law. It has been presented as the remedy for underdevelopment and poverty by the donor community, especially with regard to Africa where corruption and bad governance are seen to undermine efforts to create the conditions for economic growth and progress.

4. Local governance and twilight institutions:
In many parts of Africa, a range of institutions including state agencies and various non-state actors exercise public authority. As a result, the boundaries between the state and society are fuzzy and porous resulting in multi-layered modes of local governance.

5. Bifurcated governance and traditional authorities:
The colonial encounter entailed a complex process of negotiation and contestation between colonial administrators, settlers, missionaries and a range of indigenous interests. This gave rise to legal pluralism, the co-existence of customary law and modern state law, that have shaped governance in a complex contradictory way referred to as the bifurcated state by Mamdani. Focusing on Anglophone countries, this lecture tracks the history of legal developments in sub-Sahara Africa and explores pertinent contemporary issues such as the nature of customary law and the role of traditional authorities in contemporary governance.

6. Governing civil society:
'Civil society' has been subject to much scrutiny as to its relevance, applicability and/or adaptability to the African context. The terms civil society and NGOs are often used interchangeably, particularly within the 'good governance' discourse which poses civil society as part catalyst, part counterweight to state governance and reform. At the same time, civil society organizations, including NGOs, have also been strongly critiqued as to their efficacy to benefit the lives of those they claim to represent.

7. Unpacking development projects:
The analysis of development interventions rarely situates them in a wider context identifying factors outside the scope of the project parameters. Projects and development encounters need to be analysed with a conceptual framework that takes into account a broader range of external influences, the realities of project implementation, different perceptions of what the project is about and the consequences - both intended and unintended.

8. Exploring the development interface:
Development projects aim at promoting positive social and economic change in a specific setting. Usually they are targeted at a specific group relying on their implementation on a wide variety of people who have the task to implement the project. This week we will zoom in on the development interface or social field, where developers and 'target populations' meet and negotiate the effects of project implementation.

9. Politics of the belly and corruption:
In this session we examine ethnographies with heroin and crack users. We discuss why heroin and crack are especially stigmatised drugs, the different subcultures that surround them, and the limits of research with users.

10. Understanding corrupt practices:
A better understanding of the practices labelled as corrupt is required to fully appreciate the realities of public administration and project implementation. Often corrupt behaviour is justified by invoking moral or alternative social norms that are seen to be more important than the official rules and regulations.

Student Learning Experience:

Note that this course is the second semester mandatory core course for the MSc Africa and International Development. Students from other programmes can be admitted to this course but only if they have previously taken a course on Africa, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

The course encourages you to explore the connections between theory, research, policymaking and the lived experience of 'developers' and 'developed' in sub-Sahara Africa. It is a combination of lectures, tutorials with student discussions and a practical exercise in development planning. The course is cross-disciplinary and draws on social anthropology, African studies, political science and development studies.
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:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, 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) The course is assessed by the following:

20% of the course grade will be awarded for a 1,000 word short essay (blog entry of policy brief) to be submitted electronically.

80% for a 3,000-word long essay on a topic related to the course theme, to be submitted electronically.
Feedback You will receive summative feedback for both assignments on critical and conceptual analysis, strength and cohesion of argument, use of sources and evidence, structure and organisation, breadth and relevance of reading, clarity of expression, presentation and referencing.

After submitting the short assignment you can submit a self-assessment with action points that you can discuss in light of the summative assessment. In general, the aim of the assessment is to allow you to develop your own ideas and topics, demonstrate your ability to analyse relevant issues and draw on and synthesise relevant evidence. The ability to present your ideas and analysis in a clear and concise manner is crucial in this regard.

The summative assessment of the short assignment also has a formative function as you will receive feedback for the short assessment before submitting the long academic essay thus enabling you to draw on lessons learnt from the feedback of the short assignment.

For the long academic essay the course convenor will provide a number of essay questions.

Formative assessment: You are encouraged to discuss your plans for the short and the long assignment with the course convenor.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Familiarity with academic and policy debates about governance and the postcolonial state in the context of development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Ability to contextualise these theories against the historical background and debates about contemporary Africa and its place in the world.
  3. Understanding of the importance of academic analyses of development and poverty in Africa for work in international development.
Reading List
Please check the course handbook for the latest reading list-

Ake, C. 1996. 'The Development Paradigm and its Politics', in Democracy and Development in Africa.
Blundo, G. and J.-P. Olivier de Sardan, eds. 2006. Everyday Corruption and the State.
Bush, R. 2007. Poverty and Neoliberalism: Persistence and Reproduction in the Global South.
Cooper, F. and R. Packard, eds. 1997. International Development the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge.
Ferguson, J. 2006. Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order.
Long, N. 2001. Development Sociology: Actor Perspectives.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Gerhard Anders
Tel: (0131 6)51 3178
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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