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Regional Specialization: Southern Africa


Admission requirements

Free and compulsory for students enrolled in the RESMAAS program and for students of the 1-year MA African Studies. Those from other MA programs and exchange students may be admitted with prior registration (contact coordinator).


For the understanding of Southern Africa, here defined as Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Cape of Good Hope, it is necessary for the following main themes to be studied: the irrelevance of boundaries both now and in the past. Ethnic and, today, state boundaries have always been permeable. Students of the region are thus forced to look outside the most obvious units of study. They will also have to investigate the similarities and differences within Southern African kinship structures, gender relations, political ideologies etc. The variable length of colonial domination is also important. In some areas this lasted three hundred years, in others barely a generation. This has obvious consequences for the ways in which pre-colonial ideologies have survived. This lies at the core of the understanding of politics in the region, the prime importance of extractive industries for the economy of the region. In some places this has led to a relatively self-sustaining industrial revolution; in others the decline of the mining industry has produced urban collapse. In this, of course, the central significance of Gauteng to the region’s (and indeed the continent’s) economy cannot be over emphasised. The processes whereby technologies, material and immaterial, have been absorbed into African societies, or imposed upon them needs to be examined. This allows the understanding not merely of “development” initiatives but also of the (far more influential and successful) Christianisation of the region.

Within this framework it will be possible to investigate the political traditions and the current politics of the region, the development of economic structures across the region, and extending well beyond it, the specificities of Southern African religious life, the virulence of the HIV-AIDS epidemic, the patterns of poverty and wealth etc.

Course objectives

The course provides basic knowledge about the region in terms topics:

  • historical processes

  • current events

  • canonical studies

  • recent trends in research agenda’s.


Thursdays 14.00-16.00 hrs


Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • The course comprises 10 EC and the total course load is thus 280 hrs

  • 36 hrs of these will be spent attending lectures (6 lecture of 2 hrs x for 3 regions)

  • 100 hrs to be spent on studying compulsory literature: 100 pages literature per week (7 pages per hour) for 6 lectures in 6 weeks

  • 140 hrs for writing a final paper

  • 4 hrs will be spent in planning examination papers, determine topics, guidance on the structure and presentation

Assessment method

The final mark of the course is established by assessment of a paper submitted at the end of the course.
If a student fails to attain a pass on the basis of the paper evaluation, a second chance will be offered to rewrite the paper and resubmit for evaluation.


Yes. Course information and documents are made available for registered students via blackboard. Students submit the final paper via Blackboard and instructors place feedback and evaluation using this tool.


Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.
A list of compulsory and recommended literature will be provided via Blackboard.


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.


Azeb Amha
Academic Coordinator
P O Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, NL
Tel. +31-71-527-3364


  • Among the instructors listed above, Dr. Wels will be the course instructor and he will streamline the link among the various guest lectures, evaluate students’ papers and provide feedback on their essay.

  • It is expected that students read assigned literature before class and actively participate in the discussions.