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Politics & Contested Development: Africa (DEVT90049)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeDEVT90049
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject introduces students to important debates on the role of formal and informal politics in development in Africa. The subject explores the contested processes of socio-economic and political-institutional change across a variety of contexts in sub-Saharan Africa, together with the underlying dynamics of identity formation and allegiance, state formation, power divides and conflict. The subject encourages students to think critically about the normative implications of different approaches to the politics of development, and the empirical challenges of working in what are, in development, highly politically charged environments. This subject examines key themes in the study of Sub-Saharan African development, focusing on the political aspects of development, and applying theoretical and conceptual work in the field to the study of a range of particular development challenges facing the region. The course aims to provide students who have little prior study of Sub-Saharan Africa or African development with a foundation that can be used in further study. As such, the subject is selective in its choice of both general scholarly themes and empirical material.

Note: This subject is taught within the Masters in Development Studies, however students from other disciplines in the social sciences are welcome.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students are expected to:

• Identify and critically engage with key contemporary debates about development in Africa, including those relating to colonialism and neo-colonialism, modernity, and neoliberalism/
• Identify and understand processes of identity formation and allegiance, and related political conflict in the African context and how these are underpinned by contested development paradigms and shape processes of development in Africa
• Explore the role of state, private, and non-state actors in development, and the place of gender in development policy and planning;
• Identify and understand some of the key issues in contemporary development in African including socio-economic and political inequalities, and the politics of land rights, land reform, natural resource access and use, democratisation, urban poverty, gender-based disadvantage, social conflict and race relations, migration, climate change, aid, humanitarian intervention and security;
• Develop analytical and some research skills in order to critically connect scholarly debates to contemporary development issues.

Generic skills

Students who complete this subject should:

  • Enhance their competence in critical thinking and verbal argumentation through participation in seminar discussions;
  • Demonstrate a high level of competence in critical and theoretical thinking and argumentation in written form;
  • Develop independent research skills, both desk-based and interview based; and/or develop critical policy analysis skills;
  • Be able to implement academic protocols of research, writing and presentation;
  • Be able to identify and analyse complex and on-going empirical development issues.

Last updated: 2 August 2019