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Economy, Geography and Society in Africa


Admission requirements

This course is a compulsory element of the MA African Studies.

Please note that there is a limited number of spots available for this course. Students of the MA African Studies have priority over all others.


‘Emerging Africa’, ‘Africa Rising’ and other optimistic catchwords such as Inclusive Development have changed the image of the continent from a ‘hopeless’ case to a place of opportunities. And indeed, since 2000 Africa’s economic growth has been remarkably high and part of that is linked to the rising demand for Africa’s resources by the emerged economies from Asia and South America. But concurrently, inequality is rising and there are demands for more financial inclusion and social protection, supported by social movements, the so-called impatient youth, and considerations about the 2015 negative balance of trade, which may either be a blip in economic trajectory of Emerging Africa or signal of impending downturn. Many observers are concerned about issues of environmental sustainability, land grabbing, as well as food, nutrition and water security. In addition, there are also many places of insecurity and fragility, where the economy is in disarray.
In this course, students will do four things:
a) they study and discuss scientific literature about economy, geography and society in Africa in five scientific sessions, led by Dr Akinyoade; some of the literature will also be studied to find out what research design the authors used and what the methods of enquiry and methods of presentation have been.
b) They listen to and discuss lectures given by prominent scholars based in the Netherlands on interconnected themes such as: 1- Africa’s demographic issues (population growth dynamics and African migration); 2- Africa’s economic growth and financing development: past, present and future; 3- Inclusive development in Africa; 4- Africa’s South-South social and economic connections and what this means for Europe; and 5- Africa’s land resources and prospects for food security. The sixth week is devoted to individual presentations of country papers. The course will be concluded with the interactive 2030 SDGs game.
c) They listen to and discuss with practitioners from the world of business, media, NGOs, and diplomacy in five sessions, led by Dr Nijenhuis. The practitioners’ input will be linked to the themes studied in the respective scientific sessions.
d) For all sessions, students will propose discussion questions related to theme of the session and submitted on blackboard prior to the session; assigned roles as chairpersons to prepare the debate, appointed as discussants to prepare propositions.

Course objectives

General Learning Objectives (GLO):

By the end of the course, students will have obtained:
1. Proven knowledge of an interdisciplinary insight into the societies and cultures of Africa.
2. The ability to apply knowledge, insights and different methods from the disciplines [such as - Geography, Demography, Anthropology, Economics, Resources Governance] in new or unknown circumstances within the domain of African Studies, in order to solve problems, integrate knowledge and deal with complex matters
3. A good overview and understanding of the interconnectedness of the major issues concerning Africa’s current economic situation, the diversity of its demography and geography, and the social and environmental tensions that the recent economic growth cause; Lectures given by academics and practitioners will espouse scientific and practical perspectives of the interconnectedness.
4. Acquired solid background on their respective African countries of research interest.

Learning skills (LS) pertaining to the course:

By the end of the course, the students are able to:
1. Formulate judgements, based on a question or problem in the field of African Studies, even when the student has insufficient or limited information, by taking into account social and cultural, academic and ethnical repsonsibilities linked to the student’s own application of knowledge and judgement.
2. Clearly communicate, both in oral and written form, the outcomes based on the students own academic research, knowledge, motifs, and considerations to professionals as well as the broader public.
3. Read general scientific articles about Africa’s economy, geography and society, being able to understand the use of graphs, maps, tables and other forms of dissemination in these types of articles and the way scientists in these disciplines do their research and present their findings;
4. Summarise the major debates and positions in the debate in a concise way that is acceptable by expert scientists and by committed practitioners.


The timetable is available on the website of the MA African Studies
ResMA African Studies

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 140 hours (5EC)

  • Seminars: 26 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 50 hours

  • Assignments: 32 hours

  • Preparation oral paper presentation and discussion: 31 hours

  • Oral paper presentation and discussion: 1 hour

Assessment method

  • Paper

  • Oral presentation

a. Attendance 10% (presence in sessions) (GLO 1-4)
b. Participation 10% (includes submission of questions prior to academic and practitioner sessions) (GLO 1-4, LS 1-4)
c. Term paper 50% (submission of individually selected country paper) (GLO 1-4; LS 1-4)
d. Oral presentation and discussion 30% (individual presentation of term paper towards the end of course and group discussion based on the paper) (LS 1, 2, 4)

Exam review
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 organized.

Oral Examination will be individually based on the paper submitted. This paper has to be submitted, at least, 5 days before oral examination.
Should the oral examination mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the teacher, and a second oral examination has to be done.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Information on course content

  • Submission of written work (paper)

  • Submission of discussion questions in preparation of the seminars

Reading list

  • Stephen Ellis, 2011, Season of Rains. Africa in the World. London: Hurst & Company.

  • A syllabus with online sources and some print copies will be made available prior to the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. A. Akinyoade Dr. Karin Nijenhuis

Onderwijsadministratie:van Wijkplaats

Coordinator of Studies: P.C. Lai LL.M. MSc