SOAS University of London

Department of Religions and Philosophies

Christianity and Social Change in Sub Saharan Africa

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2016/2017
Unit value:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year
Besides spectacular numerical growth, which ensures Africa a prominent place in the global Christianity of tomorrow, there are also momentous changes afoot within African Christianity.In the latter part of the course these themes are examined through case studies of various African countries.

The course will study the enormous contributions made by religious communities to every aspect of life in contemporary Africa. It will provide the tools to assess and analyse these diverse contributions.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The course aims at exposing the student to:

  • the varieties of the expression of Christianity in Africa today;
  • the complex ways in which various expressions are embedded in society;
  • the different ways in which Christianity affects society.

At the end of the course students will be able to analyse and assess the role of various expressions of Christianity in Africa's complex situation.

Scope and syllabus

The course will cover major issues, including:

  • the socio-political role of the churches; 
  • their role in areas of ethnic or religious tension; 
  • churches as agents of development and democracy, as vehicles of modernity, as creators of civil society, as protectors of human rights, as transformers of women’s roles; 
  • African theology; 
  • Inculturation; 
  • the Pentecostal explosion; 
  • the theology, ritual and experience of Africa’s burgeoning new churches; 
  • their relation to Africa’s classical Independent Churches; 
  • the ‘pentecostalisation’ of the historic churches; 
  • the missionary factor today; 
  • the contemporary ‘conversion debate’.

Method of assessment

Coursework: three 3,000 word essays. Assessment: three hour exam paper 50%, essays 50%.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules