• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Development Studies, International Relations, Human Rights, Political Economy, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Richard Frank
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2019
    See Future Offerings

This class explores the issues, ideas, and trends that shape the politics of sub-Saharan Africa, across almost 50 countries and a billion people. Unlike what often appears in the press, Africa is not all conflict, famine, and state collapse. This class offers an overview of both successful and unsuccessful cases of political and economic development in this region and seeks to answer a number of questions including: What are the legacies of colonial rule? Why do some African countries suffer political violence more frequently than other countries within Africa or without? Why has democracy been consolidated in certain African countries but regressed or collapsed in others? What accounts for the failures and successes of African countries’ economic development? How have international actors and events affected African politics and society?


The class organized into three main sections. We start by considering the political legacies of pre-colonial societies, colonial rule, independence, and the recent decades of economic and political change. The second section introduces theoretical causes for some of Africa’s political conflicts including institutional, political, economic, and structural factors. In the third section we consider issues related to political and economic change including democratic transitions and electoral politics, economic growth and foreign assistance, and regional efforts towards political and economic cooperation.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. describe the nature of, and different theories explaining, contemporary African politics;
  2. analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different sub-Saharan Africa’s political and economic systems;
  3. apply theories of contemporary African politics to specific case studies;
  4. think, write, and argue critically and logically about African political issues from a political science perspective; and
  5. develop research, analytical and writing skills and apply them to a multistage written work.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Workshop participation (10) [LO 1,2]
  2. Map quiz, 10 mins (5) [LO 1]
  3. Mid-term literature review, 1,500 words (25) [LO 2,3,4]
  4. Essay proposal, 500 words (20) [LO 3,4,5]
  5. Final essay, 3,000 words (40) [LO 3,4,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:  
36 hours of workshops over 12 weeks; and
94 hours of independent student research, reading, and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed POLS1005 and POLS1006, or with permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

none required

Assumed Knowledge

A solid foundation of international relations theories included in POLS1005 and POLS1006.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $5160
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9606 22 Jul 2019 29 Jul 2019 31 Aug 2019 25 Oct 2019 In Person View

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