Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Contemporary African Issues and Debates (PGSP11076)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryContemporary African Issues and Debates (CAID) aims to allow students to frame and interrogate a range of contemporary debates using the theories and skills brought up in the parallel Building Blocks of African Studies core course. The debates attempt to tackle issues that are common to much of sub-Saharan Africa today. Adhering to the usual caveat about diversity across the continent, the course acknowledges that Africa is an amalgamation of societies, something which is not always appreciated by those who consider Africa a country. CAID attempts to transcend such views through analysing issues that are commonly discussed in various fora inside and outside the continent.
Course description a. Academic Description

Contemporary African Issues and Debates (CAID) aims to allow students to frame and interrogate a range of contemporary debates using theories and skills addressed in Building Blocks in African Studies (PGSP1147). The debate topics are focused on issues that are common to much of sub-Saharan Africa today. While attention is placed on contemporary issues, the course will also situate these topics in a historic context. CAID is interdisciplinary and encourages students to examine how various disciplines, primarily, anthropology, history, and politics, contribute to a deeper understanding of the weekly topic. Students will be asked to look at local case studies as well as reflect on how the issues and debates are shaped by international power structures.

b. Outline Content

Provisional weekly topics:
Introduction and Pan-Africanism
LGBT and its controversies in Africa
Environment and Tourism
Slacktivism and Arm Chair Activism
Conflict and its Depictions
Forced displacement and Refugee issues
Labour migration and Diaspora
Civil / Military Relations
International Criminal Court (ICC) in Africa

*Please note that topics will change annually and the above is meant to be an indication of the types of topics covered in the course

c. Student Learning Experience

Each week will commence with an introduction to the topic by the lecturer followed by student led presentations/debates and a class discussion. This class is designed to be interactive. The debate topics are intentionally divisive and require the presenter to choose one side of the argument. This is meant to help students develop their ability to make an academic argument, a skill necessary for successful essay and dissertation writing. Group discussions and a longer essay will also allow students to explore the other side of the argument and choose the perspective they most agree with. The course will also incorporate sources beyond academic literature to help demonstrate the role of popular culture and media's (both international and local) influence on the debates.
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the background and context of selected contemporary issues in Africa.
  2. Locate relevant literature in a supervisor-supervisee -like relationship
  3. Construct original academic arguments based on secondary research
  4. Understand the relationships between concepts, theories and critiques of contemporary African issues and developments.
Reading List
Background readings:

Anderson, D., Cheeseman, N., eds. 2013. Routledge Handbook of African Politics. London: Routledge.

Chabal, P., Daloz, J. P. 1999. Africa works: Disorder as political instrument. Oxford: James Currey.
Cheeseman, N. 2015. Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures, and the Struggle for Political Reform. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cooper, F. 2002. Africa Since 1940: The past of the present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nugent, P. 2004 [or the second edition, 2012]. Africa since Independence: A comparative history. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Specific readings will be provided for each topic, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and online outlets like academic blogs and government, NGO, and activist reports
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Undertaking and presenting scholarly work
2. Participating in group discussion
3. Making appropriate use of library and IT resources
4. Theoretically and contextually framing potential research questions
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Maggie Dwyer
Tel: (0131 6)51 5076
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information