SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

African economies 1: applied microeconomic analysis

Module Code:
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 the critical issues facing policy makers in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on sectoral and microeconomic issues. 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 emphasises the importance of a detailed grasp of economic history as a basis for critically assessing generalised debates on the determinants of recent economic performance. Topics covered include: 

  • demographic data and analysis; 
  • land degradation and environmental constraints; 
  • nutrition and undernutrition; 
  • famine; 
  • HIV/AIDS; 
  • agriculture; 
  • poverty and gender; 
  • education; 
  • labour markets and unemployment; 
  • the role of NGOs.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the major and minor strands in debates on African micro and sectoral-economics.
  • To be able to apply knowledge in constructing a critical analysis of the issues for a particular African country. 
  • Use economic data appropriately.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / coursework 30%. All coursework is resubmittable.

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.


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