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Development and Socio-Economic Changes


Admission requirements

Free and compulsory for students enrolled in the RESMAAS program. Those from other MA programs may be admitted with prior registration (contact coordinator)


This track addresses the complex relationships between development and processes of social change and differentiation in Africa. The notion of development is rooted in European Enlightenment thinking and an expression of the idea that specific forms of social change, often labeled as ‘modernization’ or ‘progress’, are advantageous and can be promoted through planned interventions. The track interprets ‘development’ as an important element in the process of on-going social change in Africa.
However, it should be stressed that ‘development’ is only a recent adding to the long-term processes of social change in African societies, and moreover one among many factors at work. Another point of departure emphasizes the paradox that right from the beginning the central values behind development – emancipation, freedom, modernization – have been communicated and implemented in contexts characterized by extreme political, economic and social inequality. This paradox requires a critical scrutiny of the relationship between discourse and implicit political agendas of institutions (international, national and local) and individual agents, between planning and implementation, and between proclaimed goals and covert interests.
Consequently, development is regarded as an on-going process of social change in which negotiation and conflict between institutions and individuals have a central place. Hence, development is also a scientific and social space where different and contesting ideas from Africa and the North meet and where different worldviews and ideas about ‘progress’ are debated.

Course objectives

On the basis of a thorough overview of recent debates and the current state of the study in this specialized field, students build up their own thematic specialization allowing them to prepare and formulate their future research project to be carried out in the third semester. The course prepares the students for the writing of his or her research proposal.


Schedule: Mondays 10.00-12.00 and Thursdays 11:00-13:00. Timetables
Detailed information on starting dates of courses can be found on Blackboard after registration.

Mode of instruction

The course runs for three months, from January until March, consisting ten weekly blocks organized in three modules. A block consists of a presentation by one or more lecturers on the Monday after which precise assignments are handed out to students who have the time to work on them for two days before the workshop meetings on Thursday. They will draft a text of about three pages that serves as an aid-memoir for their presentation.On Friday, they prepare for the meeting on Monday. Compulsory reading: 100 pages per week, supplemented with recommended reading to be used for drafting the final paper and the preparation for the individual research project.
In conjunction to the course students will work on their research proposal and at the end of the track they will draft the theoretical and methodological propositions of their research projects. The course ends with presentations of the draft of the research proposal to a team of senior researchers.

Assessment method

Weekly assignments, paper and draft of the research proposal


Available for registered students.

Reading list

Provided on the first meeting of class and posted on Blackboard


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dr. Azeb Amha
Academic Coordinator
P O Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, NL
Tel. +31-71-527-3364