Thematic course: Critical Development Planning and Policy: Africa Focus

Course content

This course aims to provide students with a combination of critical analytical and practical skills for engaging with the challenges of development planning and policy analysis in relation to African contexts.


It will include at least three dimensions: firstly, it will introduce critical theoretical approaches to the very notion of doing ‘development’,  to the study of policy, and to the politics of planning; secondly, it will prepare students for analysing different kinds of development planning and policies in their historical-political-social-economic contexts; and thirdly, it will provide students with critically reflective yet practical skills for planning concrete development projects and undertaking critical readings of policy.


Students will be encouraged to draw on and share their own previous experience of working in ‘development’ settings where relevant but such experience is not a pre-requisite for the course.


MA programme in African Studies

Learning outcome
  • Knowledge of key critical approaches to development planning and policy processes and their implications (especially in relation to Africa)
  • Knowledge of tools for undertaking critical project planning and policy analysis
  • Skills in undertaking and reflecting on a country-relevant development project planning exercise 
  • Skills in identifying and developing a key theme relevant to the course themes
  • Competence to conduct independent, interdisciplinary and critical analysis of development planning and policy processes, based on relevant theoretical approaches and empirical material

The course includes a combination of different kinds of classroom-based instruction including lecture and seminar-style sessions (with some guest lecturers) as well as practical sessions related to preparation of country portfolios and a group-based proposal for a development project, presented and discussed in a workshop towards the end of the course. The course is organised in sessions of two hours twice a week over 7 weeks in the second half of the second semester.



Abram, Simone, and Gisele Weszkalnys, 2011. ‘Introduction: Anthropologies of planning— Temporality, imagination, and ethnography’, Focaal—Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, Vol. 61, pp. 3–18


Bacchi, Carol, 2000. ‘Policy as Discourse: What does it mean? Where does it get us?’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Vol21, No. 1, pp. 45-57


Bierschenk, Thomas, 2014. ‘From the Anthropology of Development to the Anthropology of Global Social Engineering’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 139, pp. 73-98

Green, Maia, 2000. ‘Participatory Development and the Appropriation of Agency in Southern Tanzania’, Critique of Anthropology, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 67-89

Kamete, Amin Y., 2012. ‘Interrogating planning’s power in an African city: Time for reorientation?’, Planning Theory, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.  66–88 

Mosse, David, 2004. ‘Is Good Policy Unimplementable? Reflections on the Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice’, Development and Change, Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp. 639–671

Peck, Jamie, and Theodore, Nik. ‘Introduction: Policies Without Borders’ in Jamie Peck and Nik Thodore, Fast Policy : Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, pp. xv – xxxii


Rankin, Katharine N., 2009. ’Critical development studies and the praxis of planning’, City, Vol. 13, Nos. 2-3, pp. 219-229


Schneider, Helene, 2002. ‘On the fault-line: the politics of AIDS policy in contemporary South Africa’, African Studies, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 145-167


Sultana, Farhana, 2014. ‘Doing development as a critical development scholar’, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 516-519


Sutton, Rebecca, 1999. ‘The Policy Process: An Overview’, ODI Discussion Paper no. 118, London: Overseas Development Institute


Watson, Vanessa, 2009. ‘Seeing from the South: Refocusing Urban Planning on the Globe’s Central Issues’, Urban Studies, Vol. 46, No. 11, pp. 2259 – 2275


Yiftachel, Oren, 1998. ‘Planning and social control: Exploring the dark side’, Journal of Planning Literature, Vol. 12, pp. 395–406


Passed a minimum of 120 ECTS on BA-level

Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
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
Exam period

For more information click here

Single subject courses (day)

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


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Bachelor choice
Full Degree Master choice
Part Time Master
8 weeks, 2 half of the semester
First lesson is in week 13
Study board of African Studies
Contracting department
  • African Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Theology
Course Coordinator
  • Amanda Hammar   (3-697069487c6d777436737d366c73)

Amanda Hammar and guest lecturers

Saved on the 28-04-2023

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