Political Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module will focus on the comparative analysis of the major political trends, actors and processes of Sub-Saharan Africa's politics from the past until today, as well as the key issues facing the region in the 21st century.

The module is organized around key concepts and categories from mainstream comparative politics, and comparative methods will be used throughout to analyse the main issues. Yet the course will also demonstrate the continuing relevance of the historical, political and cultural specificities of African politics. The module will focus on various issues in African politics, such as military rule, authoritarian breakdown, democratization, corruption, human rights and democratic consolidation

Module aims

The course aims to introduce students to the main features of contemporary African politics. By building on a comparative approach, this course serves as an introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the history, politics and societies of the region.
The course will challenge students to analyse complex problems in African politics and encourage them to provide informed arguments on these matters.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:
• Think critically about the political reality in countries of Sub-Saharan Africa within a broad historical & comparative perspective;
• Develop a more comprehensive understanding and familiarity with the main theoretical and empirical contributions of comparative politics to the study of Sub-Saharan Africa;
• Identify the key issues in the contemporary democratic politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, and apply the methods of comparative politics to clarify and analyse them;
• Identify the political, historical and socio-economic roots of the governability issues affecting countries of the region at the beginning of the 21st century;
• Write and orally communicate clear and well-researched observation about the substantive questions raised in the course

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered with (i) a weekly pre-recorded instructor's seminar presentation and (ii) a weekly interactive seminar session. The pre-recorded instructor's seminar presentationwill consist of one or more items of prepared content that students can access electronically and must study before the interactive session. The interactive sessionwill consist of one 50-minute lecture in which students can ask questions about, and discuss various aspects of, the prepared content with the module supervisor.


  • Alex Thomson. (2016) An introduction to African politics, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Englebert, Pierre; Dunn, Kevin C. (2013) Inside African politics, Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Research Poster    40% 
Practical   Presentation    30% 
Practical   Quiz    30% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Florian Kern, email: fkern@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Florian Kern
Module Supervisor: Dr Florian Kern - fkern@essex.ac.uk / Module Administrator: Lewis Olley - govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb
University College London
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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