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Politics: Africa


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


The African Politics course aims to equip students with a broad, deep and critical understanding of African constitutional and political systems, social organisations and regional integration. Another overarching objective is to encourage students to question the stereotypes about Africa as a continent characterized by conflict and misgovernment – a view frequently espoused by global mainstream media. Historically, this course will offer students with current happenings in the continent with specific case students. Students coming to class should be equipped with the required readings and “news of the week” in the continent.

The course is divided into broad based themes with accompanied readings. For instance the course will start with 1) Why African Politics Matter; 2) The concept of the state in African politics by drawing from African traditional state formation to debunk stereotypes about African indigenous civilisation; 3) the course will dive into one of the most vexing themes in neo-liberal Africa since the third wave of democratisation which is the invention of citizenship; 3) Civil-mlitary relations in contemporary Africa and reasons why the new upsurge of military intervention taking note of the new external powers; 4) Elites and ethnicity will constitute another serious theme to be focused; 5) African constitutionalism and coostitution making; 6) Religion, politics and society; 7)political parties and electoral systems. 8) Social transformations in the likes of new migrations, family and youth; gender politics; 7)African media . 8) Regional politics and integration: the African Union and regional organisations and 9) Seccessionist tendencies and separatist wars in Africa as well as Foreign Power influence in Sahelian Africa

Acquiring knowledge on these topics will allow students to synchronically and diachronically understand the myriad power relations within African societies, and to thereby independently comprehend the continent’s contemporary political processes and current events. Students will develop a lexicon and a methodology appropriate to the study of politics as a discipline. These skills will provide a solid grounding on which students can build in terms of further research and writing.

Course objectives

  • Students get an overview of the historical and contemporary political developments / dynamics in their chosen area and deepen their existing knowledge and understanding of different political systems, political institutions, political processes and actors in the different regions / countries of the region, using the concepts acquired during the course Politics.

  • Students get acquainted with academic debates on selected topics in the specific region.

  • Students learn how to write a literature review (2,500 words).

  • Students critically engage with advanced academic texts (summarise, analyse, and critically reflect on the validity of the arguments made in these texts).

  • Students apply theories, concepts and research techniques relevant to the field of comparative politics.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than one of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (40% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first session. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Assessment method


  • Midterm Exam:
    Written examination with short open questions and (up to) 50% multiple choice questions.

  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with short open questions and (up to) 50% multiple choice questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 40%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 30%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade, Midterm Exam grade, and Final Exam grade.

  • The weighted average of the Midterm Exam grade and the Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the weighted average of Midterm- and Final Exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 60% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier Midterm- and Final Exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2022 – 2023.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

To be announced.




All other information.