SOAS University of London

School of Law

Law and Development in Africa

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year
Loading the player...

This module aims at conceptualising a new law and development initiative for Africa by critically engaging with the traditional “law and development movement” and identifying its methodological shortcomings with respect to Africa. We will examine the scope and limitations of law as an instrument of development and explore how law can be consciously used to aid development in Africa. Development will be examined as an interrelated three-legged concept consisting of human development, socio-political development and economic development. We will explore what contributions can law, legal theory and legal institutions make towards the realisation of these three aspects of development in Africa. The module has a comparative approach, examining national, regional and international perspectives of the issues.

The syllabus has both a theoretical and practical content engaging with issues such as: Conceptions and indicators of development; the traditional Law and Development movement; Theories of law and development, Human rights and development; Education and capacity building; Human security; Constitutionalism and rule of law; Corporate social responsibility; Civil Society engagement; Trade and development; Corruption and economic crimes; Resource control; and Women’s economic empowerment; - all with specific focus on Africa and with explorative case studies of selected African countries on these law and development issues.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of this module, students should be familiar with a range of English-language scholarship on the subject, have a clear understanding of the debates surrounding the question of law and development in Africa generally, and, consequently, 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.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 50% (4000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 50%

Suggested reading

  • Baderin, M.A., Law and Development in Africa: Towards a New Approach (NIALS, 2010).
  • Trebilock, M.J, and Prado, M.M., Advanced Introduction to Law and Development (Elgar, 2014).
  • Adejumobi, S., and Olukoshi, A., (eds.) The African Union and New Strategies for Development in Africa (Cambria, 2008).
  • Seidman, A., et al. (eds.) Africa’s Challenge: Using Law for Good Governance and Development (Africa World, 2007).
  • Hallward-Driemeier, M and Hasan, T., Empowering Women: Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa (The World Bank, 2013).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules