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Department of Politics and International Studies

International Relations of Africa

Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3

This course examines the international politics of sub-Saharan Africa since Independence organised around four main themes. The first concentrates on the emergence of African states, the nature and analysis of that statehood and the degrees of conflict and cooperation between African states. The second theme looks at the insertion of African states into the international order, including the economic order and their participation in international politics. The third theme assesses the period after the end of the Cold War and concentrates on three main sub themes: firstly the nature of conflict within Africa and the emergence of a greater degree of outside intervention in that conflict; secondly the attempt, also largely by outside agencies, to effect long-term fundamental change within African societies; thirdly the ways in which African states have changed regional organisations to meet a new international environment. The last theme raises the question whether new developments in global politics are fundamentally changing the  international position of African states.

Course topics will include

1. Decolonisation and Independence
2. Sovereignty and Statehood
3. Conflict and cooperation amongst African states
4. Africa and the International Order
5. Africa and the colonial powers
6. Africa and the superpowers
7. Africa and international organisations
8. Cold war interventions
9. Africa and the international division of labour
10. Humanitarian intervention and peacebuilding
11. A liberal project in Africa?
12. Africa and global civil society
13. An African Renaissance? The AU and  NEPAD
14. African interventionism
15. New conflicts in Africa
16. China and Africa
17. Global markets, Natural resources and Africa
18. ‘the war against terror’

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of this course a student should be able to demonstrate

  • knowledge about the international politics of Africa.
  • a broad overview of the different analytical approaches to studying the international politics of Africa.
  • a basic understanding of the relationship between the analysis of the international politics of Africa and the theoretical analysis of international relations in general, both normative andnd empirical.

Method of assessment

Assessment is 70% unseen examination, 10% coursework and 20% coursework.