nl en

Politics & Development of Africa


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

  • Institutions of Governance and Development


This course will take a regional and ‘bottom-up’ perspective on the process of development, using a wide range of cases from all over the African continent. Its main aim will be to build a picture of African politics and development ‘from below’, by outlining the core actors in these processes and the roles that they can play. From colonial officials to development workers, and from traditional rulers and religious preachers to (post-)modern student associations and NGOs, the course aims to introduce students to the range of organisations that Africans create and utilise to engage in politics and foster the development of their societies. Understanding the position and functions of these actors will help students not only to more accurately analyse African societies, but also to evaluate theories on international development.

Course Objectives


  • Have discussed and applied state-of-the-art theories of international development.

  • Have analysed the contributions of different political and other kinds of organisations to the governance and development of specific African countries.


  • Have presented analytical arguments about development in specific parts of Africa in different written and oral formats.

  • Have practiced writing and presenting analytical case studies.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught through two-hour interactive seminars. Seminars will generally include a short introduction by the instructor, after which students will be asked to present, debate, or otherwise reflect actively on the relevant theme and readings. Seminars will focus on concepts, theories, and empirical case studies as described in detail in the weekly overviews below. Students will be asked to prepare their own case study analyses (as a group or individually) to guide discussions in class.

Assessment Method

Class participation 15%, all weeks
Assignment 15%, all weeks
Short essays 35%, all weeks
Final paper 35%, week 7 and 8

Reading list

Students should acquire:

  • Meredith, Martin (2013 – later editions are fine too) The state (or fate – is the same book) of Africa. London: Simon & Schuster.

The remaining literature for each seminar meeting will be provided digitally. Students are required to download and/or print the literature themselves and bring to class. The following texts are useful as general introductions to the subject of development:

  • Chari & Corbridge (eds, 2008) The Development Reader.

  • Desai & Potter (eds, 2008) The Companion to Development Studies.

  • Sen, Amartya (1999) Development as Freedom.



Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. David Ehrhardt,