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icono de curso

Security and Development in Africa


Credits: 4 ECTS

First semester

Pathway core courses




The aim of this module is to allow students to develop an advanced understanding of the roots, effects, and politics of security and development in Africa. The module will encourage students to think critically and analytically about the underlying forces shaping issues of peace, conflict and development in the African continent. It will also encourage students to understand the history of Africa, Africa’s colonial legacy and its implications for contemporary politics in the continent. No prior knowledge of Africa or African Politics is assumed.

The course consists of twelve lecture-seminars. The first part of the course will provide students with an understanding of the broader historical, economic and geo-political context of Africa. This will be followed by a critical review of widely-cited ‘structural’ causes of ‘insecurity’ and ‘underdevelopment’ in the continent, such as ethnic divides and ‘poor’ geography. The third part will explore the political, economic and social landscape affecting particular development and security issues in the cold war period and post 1990. The last part will conclude with contemporary debates and issues including Terrorism and the War on Terror in Africa, the environment and demographic change, and recent ‘middle class’ growth in the continent. The course combines a review of innovative approaches to the study of the politics of security and development in Africa, including a critical review of popular discourses about Africa’s ‘insecurity’ and ‘underdevelopment’.


All students will be required to actively participate in class, to produce one short essay, deliver one seminar presentation and undertake a formal examination at the end of the course. Unlike a typical university course, in which students can fall behind in the readings, miss some classes, and catch up through intensive studying prior to exams, a short and interactive-seminar-based course like this depends entirely on its members attending every class, having adequately prepared beforehand by completing the required reading. The process simply fails if its members do not make, and keep, a serious and active commitment to it. With these descriptions in mind, you should be aware that this module requires you to do all the core readings, attend all of the seminar meetings, and participate actively in all of our discussions.

Mode of Assessment:

  • Participation 20%
  • Seminar presentation 20%
  • Short Essay 20%
  • Exam 40%

Attendance and Participation (20%): While attendance is mandatory, the bulk of this mark will be based on your participation. Participation will be assessed, based on the following indicators:

  • Evidence of having done the set readings: This can include having reading notes visible, raising questions about the readings, quoting the readings when making an observation or a comment, challenging the views of the readings, and comparing different readings.
  • Active participation: this entails engaging in the discussions in class, responding to questions posed by the professor and other students. It also entails asking questions about the material or any other matters about the course that need clarification.
  • Active listening: the student takes notes during seminars and class exercises, and when watching films, or when others are talking.
  • Collegiality, respect, politeness and teamwork apply at all times: diversity of ideas and challenge will be actively promoted in a polite and respectful environment. Those that talk more will also be mindful to let others speak too. Those that speak less will take some responsibility to speak and contribute to class.

Group presentation (20%): Students will be required to do one 20-30-minute presentation, as part of a group of 2-3 people. They will also lead a discussion on one of the seminar questions set for that day (see the breakdown of seminars in this syllabus). Presenters will draw for their presentation on the core readings of that seminar and will give an overview of a case study. The presentation aims to work on public speaking skills, including the handling of a q&a after the presentation, and diligence in conveying a convincing argument orally. Referencing conventions apply at all times so please make sure all sources are properly acknowledged in your presentations and slides.
Due: the day of the seminar.

Short essay (20%): Students will also be required to prepare a short 1000-1500 words essay based on one of the seminar questions. Essays will put forward an argument, addressing the question directly, engaging with the seminar’s core readings in an analytical and critical manner. They will also conduct extra research to back up the main points of the essay and any facts, examples or cases the essay discusses. This research can draw from the supplementary readings suggested for that topic. Essay questions will be distributed on the first day of class.
Due: One week after the seminar (essay questions relate to specific seminars). It should be submitted by email to both instructors, preferably as a word document.

Exam (40%): 2hrs exam attempting 2 questions from a list of 10 topics. The exam will require you to answer two questions in an essay-format. In addition to offer and sustain an answer to the question, the exam requires that students engage the core texts and issues that relate to the particular topic. It will be also an asset to bring in examples, cases and display critical thinking skills. Purely descriptive answers that simply give an account of the content of certain texts will not be sufficient. I expect to see conceptual analysis and evaluation in your exam. Your exam question may be related to your seminar presentation.