SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

The political economy of development in Africa

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 1

The aim of this course is to increase students' capacity to use their growing knowledge of political economy of development 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 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.
Topics include: Afro-pessimism and an African Political Economy; Environment, Demography & the Resource Base; nutrition and undernutrition; famine; agriculture and land; the informal economy; HIV/AIDS; poverty and gender; education. 

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 over African economic development.; 
  • apply their knowledge in constructing a critical analysis of the issues for a particular African country
  • use economic data appropriately;
  • understand the link between economic theory and evidence base in debates on  African economic development;
  • understand the heterogeneity of African economies.

Method of assessment

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


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules