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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
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. Governance and the Washington Consensus:
This week¿s lecture examines the rise of the concept of good governance as paradigm in international development since the 1990s focusing on the World Bank and African analysts¿ perspective. By means of a close reading of the World Bank report and Mkandawire¿s analysis the tutorial aims to go beyond a simplistic representation of the World Bank as the bogeyman of international development without uncritically accepting the World Bank¿s policies at face value.

2. Measuring governance:
Governance and corruption are measured by a number of high-profile indexes such as the Ibrahim Index of African Governance and the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. How accurate and useful are these attempts at measuring governance?

3. Alternative Constructs: Studying Real Governance:
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 to governance in the context of globalization. In this class, we will discuss the difference and focus on real governance in Africa that is quite different from the image in policy documents and studies produced by governments and donor agencies. The class explores questions of real governance in extreme situations such as armed conflict.

4. Developmental states in Africa?:
The successful transformation of East Asian economies has generated a vigorous debate about the viability and shape of ¿developmental states¿ elsewhere, particularly in Africa. We revisit the ¿developmental state¿ thesis by exploring some of the potential and limits to the roles of states in development transitions based on evidence from across the region.

5. Civil society and the public sphere:
Civil society and the public sphere are often criticized as Eurocentric models and yet they are also seen as offering possibilities for empowerment and emancipation. This week¿s lecture examines these concepts in the context of debates about development in Africa.

6. New donors and development assistance:
Whilst Western aid comes with strings attached development assistance from new players on continent appears to be based on complex political-economic motivations. The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group of countries as emergent players in the field of international development and their growing involvement in Africa has provoked both praise and critique. This week¿s lecture will have a closer look at this debate.

7. Digital technologies:
Digital technologies are transforming our politics, societies and economies rapidly. Their influence, particularly, on economic production activities are immense with great implications for Africa¿s changing place in the world economy. Drawing from the existing body of research in the economic geography discipline, this week¿s class will critically examine the role of digital technologies and digital data in shaping the governance in the value chains and global production networks in the context of low- and middle-income regions such as Africa.

8. Governing Oil: Elites and the Politics of Reform:
The aftermath of Africa¿s recent oil boom has witnessed renewed hope in the capacity of liberal reforms to steer optimum development for oil exporting countries. We will explore the key ideas and institutions that have shaped this optimism around two main questions; given the context of partial results from previous liberal reforms, does the current emphasis on ¿good governance¿ and institutional development hold any prospects for oil-led transformation across the continent? Are elites, rather than institutions, to blame for the failure of such reforms?

9. Governing Resources ¿ The Contentious Politics of
Transparency Norms:
Transparency is upheld within international development circles as an all-purpose recipe for addressing the ills associated with resource-led development. Drawing from research about the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative ¿ a global initiative which prescribes transparent auditing and multi-stakeholder oversight ¿ we will scrutinise the contentious politics associated with governance reforms in the extractive sector that draws from transparency norms in Africa.

10. Informality and the local labour markets:
Popularised in the 1970s, the notion of the informal economy acquired considerable policy prominence throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as structural adjustment led to a shrinking formal sector. We will explore how informality is grounded in Africa, how it affects local labour markets, and how workers and governments are responding to new wave of informalities emerging in contemporary era around the continent.

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 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  35
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 (book review) 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 Nelson Oppong
Tel: (0131 6)51 3493
Course secretaryMr Adam Petras
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