Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3227: Politics, Elections, and the State in Africa

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Elena Gadjanova (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


States in Africa are among the most diverse in the world. What are the sources of this diversity? What consequences does it have for nation-building, governance, and politics? How can competing solidarities be reconciled in the framework of electoral democracy on the continent? Drawing on theories from political science, sociology, and anthropology, you will trace how political identities in Africa have been constructed and employed in order to either reinforce or challenge state authority. You will critically engage with common conceptions of the African state as ‘failed’, ‘weak’, ‘of the belly’, ‘extroverted’, ‘neo-patrimonial’. Using country case studies, you will examine the role of competitive elections and compare experiences with political competition under authoritarianism, single-party rule, and multi-party democracy. You will unpack the consequences of ethnic politics for the state and talk about which institutions can more effectively accommodate ethnic differences in highly diverse societies. You will also look at how youth, religion, gender, and class have reconfigured politics in Africa in the multi-party era.

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