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

Postgraduate Course: Dynamics of African Development (PGSP11581)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAfrica is a continent undergoing socioeconomic change at an unprecedented speed. It contains the world's fastest growing economies and populations yet rates of poverty remain high and new forms of exclusion and inclusion influence political and social dynamics. Africa as people, place and idea has shaped our modern world in fundamental ways. Drawing on academic literature and empirical research this course explores how various strategies employed over the decades since colonial times to bring about social, political and economic transformation in Africa have framed and defined Africa. It discusses key issues in African development issues including the role of the state, economic change, land, conflict, the informal economy and democracy. The course aims at providing a platform to discuss poverty, development and the challenges of realising justice in contemporary Africa.
Course description While exploring scholarly texts, videos and representations in popular culture, students in this course will gain familiarity with academic and policy debates about development in sub-Saharan Africa and will deepen their understanding of theories on the nexus between poverty, wealth and political change in Africa. Students will enhance their ability to contextualise these theories against the historical background and debates about contemporary Africa and its place in the world.


1. Introducing the study of contemporary Africa
2. African economies in historical context
3. Transparency and the corruption-development nexus
4. Poverty and wealth in contemporary Africa
5. Democracy and democratic consolidation: Relevant to development?
6. Health and diseases
7. The changing labour market in Africa
8. Mining and natural resources
9. Religion, sexuality, and development in Africa
10. Education and development in Africa

Student learning Experience
This course is taught entirely online in a virtual learning platform called Learn. The course is delivered through pre-recorded lectures, weekly readings, and student engagement with the material through online asynchronous discussion boards as well e-tivities across the semester. E-tivities include writing a blog, a policy brief, and an academic poster. Online tools are provided with instructions to complete these tasks. Teaching also occurs through two live online seminars that are delivered through Blackboard collaborate, which are recorded for students who are not able to attend in person. The course organiser guides discussions and provides feedback throughout the semester.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Roots of African Poverty and Development (Distance Learning) (PGSP11320)
Other requirements This course replaces PGSP11320 Roots of African Poverty and Development. Students who have studied Roots of African Poverty and Development are not eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  5
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 16/09/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 70% of the course assessment will be based on a final essay (3000 words).
20% of the course assessment will be based on the submission of two e-tivites chosen across the different e-exercises that students will do during the course. These may be blog posts, posters, policy briefings, case study reports, etc.
10% based on participation in weekly discussion forum.
Feedback Students receive feedback on an essay plan within 10 days of submission. Students are required to reflect upon their feedback in order to improve their final coursework.

There may be some overlap in the issues that you focus on in the various courses, so you should pay careful attention to the topics you select. It is important that you do not duplicate your work. Students will have the opportunity to select a pre-written essay question or come up with their own essay topics in some cases; essays on self-selected topics need to be previously agreed with the Programme Director.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate familiarity with the major historical factors affecting development in Africa
  2. Critically understand how major development theories have been applied in practice in African countries
  3. Critically examine the social, political and economic factors affecting development strategies in African countries
Reading List
Adesina, J.O., Yao Graham and A. Olukoshi (2006) Africa & Development. Challenges in the New Millennium
Ake, C. (1996) Democracy and Development in Africa
Ferguson, James (1990) The Anti-Politics Machine
Kothari, Uma (2005) A Radical History of Development Studies: Individuals, Institutions and Ideologies
Lockwood, Matthew (2005) The State They're In. An Agenda for International Action on Poverty in Africa
Nugent, Paul (2004) Africa since Independence
Nyang'oro, J.E. and T. Shaw (1995) Beyond Economic Liberalisation in Africa: Structural Adjustment and the Alternatives
Binns T., Kenneth L. & Etienne Nel, 2018 The Routledge Handbook of African Development
Agupusi, P. & Okereke, C. 2015 Homegrown Development in Africa: Reality Or Illusion? Routledge
Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt, Fred Mawunyo Dzanku, and Aida Cuthbert Isinika (eds) 2018 Agriculture, Diversification, and Gender in Rural Africa. Longitudinal Perspectives from Six Countries
Rodney, Walter (1972) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Collier, Paul (2007) The Bottom Billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ian Russell
Course secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
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