Compulsory course: Economic Development in Africa

Course content

A revised course description will be submitted as soon as possible.


The course will examine key dimensions and dynamics of economic development in Africa, exploring these in relation to global, regional, national and local contexts and their interconnectedness. It will have a particular focus on the debates and arguments around structural transformation of African economies, including the various factors that stimulate growth and productivity on the one hand, and produce inequality, marginalisation or underdevelopment on the other. Assuming the significance of power within all economic and social relations, the course will make use of interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches – including political economy – to examine these relations. 


MA programme in African Studies

Learning outcome

The aim is for the student to acquire the following qualifications:

  • Knowledge of key dimensions of economic development in Africa
  • Knowledge of the diverse conditions, structures and actors affecting different economies within the continent
  • Knowledge of key concepts, theories and methodologies relevant for understanding and analysing economic development in Africa
  • Skills in analysing overall economic trends in Africa
  • Skills in analysing the key themes and arguments in contemporary debates on economic development in Africa
  • Competences to critically and independently assess various approaches to economic development in Africa

The course is organised in sessions of 2 hours twice per week over 7 weeks in the second half of the first semester. The course will be based on lectures combined with classroom discussions, requiring active participation from the students.

Suggested literature:


Buur, Lars, Nystrand, Malin J. and Pedersen, Rasmus Hundsbaek, 2017, The political economy of land and natural resources in Africa. An analytical framework, DIIS Working Paper, 2017:2

Farole, Thomas and Winkler, Deborah (eds), 2014, Making Foreign Direct Investment Work for Sub-Saharan Africa: Local Spillovers and Competetiveness in Global Value Chains, Washington: The World Bank

Hulme, David, 2014, ‘Poverty in Development Thought: Symptom or Cause’, in Currie-Alder, Bruce, et al (eds), International Development: Ideas, Experience and Prospects, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Jerven, Morten, 2015, Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong, London and New York: Zed books


Monga, Célestin and Lin, Justin Yifu (eds), 2015, Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics: Volume 1: Context and Concepts, Oxford: Oxford University Press 


Monga, Célestin and Lin, Justin Yifu (eds), 2015, Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics: Volume 2: Policies and Practices, Oxford: Oxford University Press 


North, Douglass C, 1995, ‘The New Institutional Economics and Third World Development’, in Harriss, John, Hunter, Janet and Lewis, Colin M. (eds), The New Institutional Economics and Thirds World Development, London and New York: Routledge


Raudino, Simone, 2016, Development Aid and Sustainable Economic Growth in Africa: The Limits of Western and Chinese Engagements, Palgrave Macmillan


Van de Walle, Nicolas, 2001, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999, New York: Cambridge University Press

The course is only open for CAS MA students and professional master students.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Students write two assignments during the course, defined by the course lecturer, from whom they will receive feedback during the course. The length of each assignment should be between 10,500 and 12,000 characters with the total length of both assignments being between 21,000 and 24,000 characters. The final (revised) assignments are handed in as the exam paper as a single document during the exam period.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Exam Preparation
  • 59
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 210