SOAS University of London

School of Law

Law and Society in Africa

Module Code:
155200090
Credits:
15
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1
Law and Society in Africa - is designed to introduce students to a different way of thinking about Africa; the continent and not, as Western media sometimes represents it, the country. It does that by challenging the presentations of the continent as hopeless. The module also focuses on the role of law in Commonwealth African countries. Reference will be made to other jurisdictions but the focus is on Commonwealth States. Although it is taught thematically, at the end of the year a student should have an understanding of the legal policies and culture of most of these countries. The themes discussed include customary law, courts and the settlement of disputes, land reform, family law, human rights, religion, health, water, indigenous people and minorities, including LGBTI individuals. Particular emphasis is placed on the relationship between law and society, and the effectiveness of law as an instrument of social change. Moreover, the module is designed to with a focus on African scholarship. Finally, the rich seam of African fiction is explored with reference to particular themes under discussion (eg gender).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Encourage the students to take a critical approach to the production of knowledge by engaging with material (books, blogs, newspapers and other media) written about African peoples and States and interrogating the perspective of the author(s).
  • Show an understanding of the legal policies and culture of most of Commonwealth African countries.
  • Differentiate how such topics as customary law, courts and the settlement of disputes, human rights, gender, conflict resolution, land reform and family law are dealt with in different Commonwealth African countries.
  • Explore through examples the effectiveness of law as an instrument of social change.

Method of assessment

  • One Essay (3,000 words): 30%
  • One two-hour exam: 70%

Disclaimer

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