Thematic course: Governing Africa's natural resources

Course content

If economic growth, poverty reduction and industrial development are top priorities for most African countries, why should local communities, NGO's, policy makers in African government and donor countries worry about governing natural resources? The answer is simple: natural resources provide soil to grow food, and water for drinking, irrigation etc. Forests and rivers provide food to eat or export and raw materials for a wide range of industries. In many African countries, natural landscapes and wildlife reserves are major factors in attracting tourism. So governing natural resources is about safeguarding food, livelihoods, export opportunities, recreation etc.

The primary objectives of this course are as follows: (1) Debating governance of natural resources at and between local, national, and international levels; (2) develop understanding of key concepts including theories related to governing natural resources; and (3) Discuss specific cases from Africa related to utilization and/or conservation of Africa's natural resources.

Key elements in this course will be:

  • critically discuss actors in Africa's development and the role they are playing in governing natural resources in Africa.
  • Issues related to utilization of natural resources linked to discussion about scarcity and abundance.
  • Debating conservation in Africa – related to the role of state, marked and civil society.
  • Discuss impact and coping strategies related to climate change in Africa. 

MA programme in African Studies

Learning outcome

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

  • Ability to select a relevant sub-topic within the overall focus area of governing Africa's natural resources. The sub-topic should be geared towards specific conditions related to Africa.
  • Ability to independently and critically select relevant literature on the sub-topic related to governance of natural resources
  • Ability to independently and critically analyse the sub-topic in question and to place it within the overall context of governing Africa's natural resources.

2 x 2 for 7 weeks second half of the semester

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
7.5 ECTS: A written paper on a topic of the student’s own choosing comprising 24,000-28,800 characters.

Students can participate in and register for group examination in thematic courses without having a dispensation and approval from the study board. The students must register the group at the exam office. A group can consist of a maximum of three students.
For written group exams the requirements for the combined reading list and the length of the paper is the same as when writing individually, i.e. the length is multiplied by the number of students in the group. The authors of the individual sections must be clearly identified in the exam paper. For all group exams students will be given individual grades.
All three exam attempts for a given thematic course have to be conducted within a year following the conclusion of the course.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Exam
  • 60
  • English
  • 210