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History: Africa


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


This course is designed to provide an introduction to a number of the most relevant themes in the post war history of sub-sharan Africa.

The main themes will be :

  • The Second Colonial Occupation

  • Anti-colonial armed resistance

  • The development of nationalism and independence

  • The nature of post-colonial states

  • Ethnic and regional conflict (Biafra, Eritrea, Congo, Sudan, Uganda)

  • Economic development, societal collapse and the beginnings of recovery

  • The spread of Aids

  • Apartheid and its satellite states

  • The end of apartheid.

Course objectives

In its most general terms, this course seeks to familiarize students with the modern history of Sub-Sahara Africa and offer them a historical context for understanding Africa today. This entails that students will have a good grasp of the general chronology of the modern era in Africa; they will have a broad understanding of both the history of the individual countries and of the transnational dynamics that shaped the region. On a more methodological level, students will be encouraged to question received wisdom and challenge established knowledge by critically engaging apparently familiar concepts from new angles.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; bi-weekly tutorials.

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Assessment method

  • Tutorials 30%

  • Midterm Exam 30%

  • Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Compulsory readings:

  • F. Cooper, Africa since 1940. The Past to the Present (Cambridge UP, Cambridge 2002)

  • P. Nugent, Africa since independence (2nd edition) (Palgrave/Macmillan, London 2012)

Recommended readings:

  • R. Ross, Concise History of South Africa (Cambridge UP 2008)

  • W. Reno, Warfare in Independent Africa (Cambridge UP, Cambridge 2011)


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable