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icono de curso

Security and Development in Africa


Credits: 4 ECTS

First semester

Elective Courses




The aim of this module is to allow students to develop an advanced understanding of the roots, consequences, and politics of uneven development performance and insecurity in Africa. The module will encourage students to think critically and analytically about the underlying forces shaping issues of development, peace, and conflict in the region. It will also encourage students to engage with the history of Africa, Africa’s colonial and precolonial legacies and its implications for contemporary and future politics in the continent. The course is deliberately designed to expose students to a range of different disciplinary perspectives, including political science, economics, anthropology, and demographics.  No prior knowledge of the region or of African Politics is assumed.

The course consists of twelve interactive lecture-seminars. The first part of the course will provide students with an understanding of the broader historical, geographic and institutional origins of uneven development, ethnic group relations and conflict risk in Africa. The second part will focus on contemporary politics in the continent: it will explore the challenges of democratization, state building, religion and conflict in African polities. The last part will conclude with ongoing debates about the future of African development with a focus on demographic transitions, the emergence of an African ‘middle class’ and debates about the role of foreign aid and Chinese involvement 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’.


We actively encourage student participation in our classes. With this in mind, we expect all students to engage pro-actively in the seminar discussions, produce one short essay, deliver one 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, an interactive course like this depends entirely on its members attending every class, having adequately prepared beforehand by completing the required reading. The course assessment criteria are as follows, 

Mode of Assessment:

Assessment Type Percentage
Participation  15%
Seminar presentation


Short Essay  25%
Exam  40%


1. Attendance and Participation (15%): 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.

2.  Group presentation (20%): Students will be required to do one 20 minute presentation, as part of a group of 2-3 people. They will also lead a discussion on one or more 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.

3. Short essay (25%): 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.  

4. Take home Exam (40%): 1500-2000 words essay, choose one of four question. The exercise will require you to answer one question in an essay-format. In addition to offering and sustaining an answer to the question, the take home exam requires that students engage the core texts and issues that relate to the particular topic. It will also be 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. We expect to see conceptual analysis and evaluation in your essay.

Competences, learning outcomes and teaching activities (PDF)