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Department of Economics

Economic development of Africa

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • On successful completion of this course, students will be able to understand the major and minor strands in debates over African economic development. They will be able to apply their knowledge in constructing a critical analysis of the issues for a particular African country, and will be able to use economic data appropriately.

Scope and syllabus

  • The aim of this course is to increase students' capacity to use their growing knowledge of economic theory, development economics and econometrics in rigorous analysis of a subset of critical issues facing policy makers in sub-Saharan Africa. Attention is paid to data quality and the statistical problems that are a feature of the best applied economic literature covering these countries. The heterogeneity of African economies is stressed and students are encouraged to focus their written work on particular sub-regions, countries and sectors. The course also emphasizes the importance of a detailed grasp of economic history as a basis for critically assessing generalised debates on the determinants of recent economic performance.
  • The term 1 topics are shown in the detailed term 1 reading list which is already available. Term 2 topics include: the role of the state, international financial institutions reform programmes, industrialisation, privatisation, international trade, regional trade, foreign direct investment, determinants of growth, aid, and debt. A detailed Reading List for each Lecture will be provided and put on the Blackboard in December 2011.
  • The course consists of one lecture and one tutorial per week. The tutorials will address the topics covered in the previous week’s lecture. For most tutorials, two students will take responsibility for introducing the topic in each tutorial class. Presentations are limited to ten minutes. All students—even those who are not making a presentation—will be expected to come to the tutorials prepared to make a useful contribution to the class. If you have not done any reading for the week you may be asked to leave the class. Students will sign up for one tutorial slot at the beginning of term and to attend class at the same time each week. You may not change to another class without prior agreement.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighing: Exam 80% / coursework 20%. Resubmission of coursework regulations do not apply to this course.

Suggested reading

  1. Austin, Gareth (2008), 'Resources, techniques, and strategies south of the Sahara: revising the factor endowments perspective on African economic development, 1500–2000’. Economic History Review, Aug2008, Vol. 61 Issue 3, p587-624
  2. Arrighi, Giovanni (2002), ‘The African crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects, New Left Review, 15, p5-36.
  3. Sender, J. (1999), “Africa’s Economic Performance: Limitations of the Current Consensus”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, No. 3, Summer.