MSc African Studies Core Course 2
Themes in African History and Social Sciences
This course introduces students to major debates in the contemporary study of Africa, aiming to set these issues within their historical, social and cultural contexts. The approach is necessarily selective, but features many of the most important and influential scholarly works on Africa arranged around four central themes. The selected themes reflect key areas of academic and public debate, and fields in which there is a lively and often contested literature:
The State in Africa: The first five weeks of the course introduce students to key features of the historical background to contemporary Africa. We begin with the formation of the colonial state, its “modernising” mission, resistance to colonialism, nationalism and independence. The course then analyses authoritarianism, patrimonialism, and the cold war. The last three weeks of the first term focus on more contemporary themes, and debates surrounding them, such as economic liberalisation, political liberalisation and democratisation.
Lectures will focus on identifying historical continuities and critical junctures in the evolution of the African state, and cover a broad range of key themes:
- the character of the colonial state;
- the hopes (and failures) of the nationalist state project;
- the politics of economic crisis during the Cold War era;
- why African states ‘failed’;
- the ways in which African leaders attempt to mobilize their supporters;
- structural adjustment and its impact on Africa;
- the feasibility of democracy in Africa.
Contemporary Social Issues: A critical analysis of key areas of debate on contemporary Africa continues during Hilary Term. We will first look at ethnicity and other forms of identity in Africa, to understand its modern rather than primordial nature. The course also investigates debates over the most potent images of Africa’s suffering today: civil war, famine, agricultural stagnation and struggles over land, HIV-Aids, the informal economy and the lack of decent jobs, forced migration as well as voluntary migration.
Lectures cover a range of key themes, including:
- reasons for African mobility, including forced migration;
- identity and ethnicity in Africa;
- the relationship between historical grievances, natural resources, elections, and civil war;
- the relationship between land reform, famine, and political stability;
- the political economy of epidemics.
- Minimum of a strong 2.1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualification) and a transcript of your results.
- Personal Statement
- Current CV
- Three academic references
- A sample of written academic work
- Applicants whose first language is not English are required to provide evidence of proficiency in English
The application deadlines for 2013-14 entry are 16 November 2012, 18 January 2013 and 8 March 2013.
How to Apply
Fees & Funding