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School of Law

Law and development in Africa

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

The main objective of this course is to examine the scope and limitations of law as an instrument of development in Africa. Development will be examined as an interrelated three-legged concept consisting of: human development, socio-political development and economic development. The course will explore what contributions have and can law, legal theory and legal institutions make towards the realisation of these three aspects of development in Africa. The course will have a comparative approach, examining national, regional and international perspectives of the relevant issues. It will focus on the major challenges facing the African continent in its quest for sustainable human, socio-political and economic development. The syllabus has both a theoretical and practical content engaging with relevant issues such as the Conceptions and indices of development with a focus on Africa; the Law and Development Movement; Scope and limits of law as an instrument of development; Theories of law and development in Africa, Human rights and development in Africa; Women’s rights and empowerment in Africa; Education and capacity building in Africa; Human security in Africa; Governance, constitutionalism and rule of law in Africa; Conflict and resource control agitation in Africa; Corporate and social responsibility in Africa; Civil society engagement in Africa; Trade and development in Africa; Agricultural and technological development in Africa; Economic and financial regulation in Africa; and Corruption and economic crimes in Africa. There will also be explorative case studies of the role of law in addressing these different developmental questions in selected African countries.

The course fills a lacuna in the School of Law’s postgraduate curriculum and complements existing courses, such as the general Law and Development course, by specifically focusing on Africa. Generally, this course will strengthen the options for the General LLM and MA programmes, as well as the LLM and MA in Law, LLM and MA in Culture and Society; LLM and MA in Law, Development and Globalization; and LLM and MA International and Comparative Legal Studies programmes.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of the course  a student should be able to:

  • understand the different theories of Law and Development in the context of Africa;
  • analyse the indices of socio-economic growth and explore the role of law as an instrument of social engineering in Africa;
  • demonstrate an appreciation of the parameters of Law and Development and their inter-connections in overcoming the challenges of development in different African countries;
  • undertake further critical research on the relationship between law, development and society and what contribution legal theory and institutions can make  towards the quest for socio-economic development in Africa.

Method of assessment

• Coursework: 40% (4000 words)
• Unseen written examination: 60%
Resubmission of coursework regulations apply

Suggested reading

  • Adelman, S., &  Paliwala, A., Law and Crisis in the Third World (1993) Hans Zell Publishers.
  • Ake, C, Democracy and Development in Africa (1996) Washington Brookings Institute Press.
  • Andreasson, S., “Orientalism and African Development Studies: The ‘Reductive Repetition’ Motif in Theories of African Underdevelopment” (2005) 26 Third World Quarterly, No. 6, pp.971-986.
  • Andreasson, S., “Thinking Beyond Development: The Future of Post-Development Theory in Southern Africa” (2007) http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/bisa-africa/confpapers/Andreasson_BISA_2007.pdf.
  • Carty, A., (ed.) Law and Development (1992) Ashgate Publishers Ltd.