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Regional Trends: African History and Politics


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

At least two of the following courses:

  • Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

  • Introduction to Globalization and Transnational Politics

  • Birth of the Modern World

Recommended course(s):

  • Nations and Nationalism

  • Thinking about Politics: Power and Sovereignty

  • Conflict and Democracy


To understand politics in contemporary Africa, we need to make sense of the history of this vast continent and its interactions with the outside world. This course introduces that history, from the times of slavery and colonialism to the present. We will be exploring questions such as: what did independence from colonial rule mean for citizens of African states? How is politics on the continent organised? What rights and duties do people living there see themselves as having, and in what types of community? How is citizenship understood? How do African people organise for the purpose of making their demands heard, whether during elections or at other times? We will also study questions related to political economy, such as what sources of income African rulers can rely on and how this impacts governance. Studying the writings of leading African intellectuals as well as social scientists from various regions, in this course you will gain tools to analyse Africa’s evolving position in 21st century world politics.

Course Objectives

By successfully completing this course, students should be able:

To gain knowledge, as manifested in the ability:

  • To analyse politics in Africa in a historical perspective,

  • To explain how African thinkers make sense of politics on the continent,

  • To account for how categories of race, ethnicity and gender have been made and been used in politics in Africa,

  • To examine ways in which transregional processes shape opportunities and constraints faced by actors in a given region,

To gain certain skills, as manifested in the ability:

  • To see the world from several perspectives, especially by examining how historical experiences that are different from one’s own can lead to different interpretations,

  • To reflect critically on how politics is shaped in the nexus between structure and agency.


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 is an interactive course. Students will be expected to participate by coming to class having read the core texts and raising questions and sharing remarks in response to our evolving discussion. You will also be expected to write regular reflections throughout the course. Further, you will be working in groups on a project related to African politics, the results of which you’ll be expected to convey in the form of a video or a podcast as well as a presentation in class. Finally, you will have the chance to study more closely a question about African history and politics by writing an essay.

Assessment Method

  • Reflections: 30%

  • Group project: 30% (consisting of a video/podcast worth 20%, a class presentation worth 10%)

  • Essay: 40%

Reading list

The readings will be made available at the start of the course.


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. Ingrid Samset,