SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

(RID) African Economic Development I

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

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.

This course will delivered alongside the parallel course African economies 1: Applied Microeconomic Analysis, worth 18 CATS credits. Students will have the opportunity to attend all lectures and tutorial, but the examinable component will be approximately  85% of the 18 CATS credits syllabus. The following topics will not be part of the examinable component of this course: Week 8: Education and Economic Development.

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.


Teaching takes place through a weekly 2 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / coursework 30%. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.

Suggested reading

  • 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
  • Arrighi, Giovanni (2002), ‘The African crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects, New   Left Review, 15, p5-36
  • Sender, J. (1999), “Africa’s Economic Performance: Limitations of the Current Consensus”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, No. 3, Summer


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules