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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 modern history of Africa, from 1800 to the present.

The main themes will be:

  • Understanding African past

  • Slavery, the slave trade and the abolition

  • Africa and Islam in the XIX century

  • Christianity, missionaries and explorers

  • Theories and policies of imperialism

  • Colonialism conquest and partition

  • Colonial economies and colonial societies

  • The Great War and Africa

  • The “invention” of tradition and tribalism

  • The Second World War and decolonisation

  • Nation and State building

  • Ideologies, the Cold War and Africa

  • Neoliberalism and “the rule of markets”

  • The case of South Africa

Course objectives

In its most general terms, this course seeks to familiarize students with the modern history of 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 African societies and that of the transnational dynamics that shaped the region. On a methodological level, students will be encouraged to question received wisdom and challenge established knowledge on Africa by critically engaging with the mainstream discourses on Africa.


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.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks + hours on attending tutorials 2 hours per two weeks x 6: 36 hrs

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 60 hours

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 44 hours

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. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

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)

  • Reid, Richard , A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the present. (Revised 2nd edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

Recommended readings:

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

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


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S. Bellucci, email