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China-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order


Admission requirements

The course China-Africa relations in a Changing Global Order is intended for students from the programme MA Asian Studies as well as MA International Relations. Students from both courses will be admitted.


This course will explore the relationship between two increasingly important global areas, China and Africa. The relationship between China and Africa has garnered significant interest in the last decade, particularly from Western observers. Many have noted the intensification of China-Africa relations as exemplary of the ‘rise of the Global South.’ Nevertheless, this relationship has been mired in assumption and myth that has resulted in widespread misrepresentation of China-Africa engagement.
This course will explore some of the major misrepresentations regarding these relations, focusing specifically on the misrepresentation of human rights.
In order to do so it will start by revisiting some of the more traditional explanations for state behaviour from International Relations theory, looking at the shortcomings/limitations of these lenses in understanding China-Africa relations. It will demonstrate how critical IR theory can help us understand the dynamics and dilemmas of China-Africa relations that traditional theories overlook. Specifically it will look at postcolonial critiques of International Relations Theory.

The human rights angle taken in this course will also shed light on how shifts in global power create dilemmas relating to the construction, maintenance and disruption of international norms.

Course objectives

  • Acquire general knowledge of how new global players such as China and Africa engage each other

  • Develop critical thinking on how these relations present a challenge to traditional theories of International Relations

  • Explore what light critical IR theories, such as postcolonialism, can shed on making sense of these relations

  • Research and essay writing at corresponding academic level on a topic of interest related to the work covered

  • Develop critical analytical skills


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar: the instructor will give interactive mini-lectures in the first half of the seminar, introducing the topic, the main problems that it raises, the principal authors and literature that has addressed the question, and so on. The instructor also initiates the discussions for the students. The students are required to engage in the discussions in the second session of the seminar. The discussions take the form of group discussions, debates, and/or role play games, etc., depending on the contents of each week’s topic.

The students should finish the required reading, prepare for the seminar questions (sent in advance) beforehand, and come to the seminar ready to contribute. Their performance in the seminars will be assessed. Students will also give presentations on their short essay during this course.

Course Load

10EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Hours spent on attending seminars: 24 hours

  • Weekly reading and course work: 108 hours

  • Paper writing: 126 hours

  • Presentation: 22 hours


10% Attendance and seminar engagement
20% Mid-term short essay
20% Presentation of short essay
50% Final essay

The final grade is given on the basis of all four components above. Failure to participate in a component cannot be compensated through other components.


There are no resits for the participation element. For the draft paper and research paper, the possibility of a resit applies.


Graded papers will be returned with feedback. Students may make an appointment to discuss their papers within 30 days of the publication of their paper grade.

Exam Review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.


Blackboard plays an essential part in this course. The course uses Blackboard for announcements, course documents, and assignments, etc.


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

Reading list

The Reading list will be regularly updated. Check Blackboard for updated reading list.
Students interested in China-Africa relations are advised to refer to:

    A useful book that will be referred to in the course is:

  • Brautigam, Deborah (2011), The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Dr. Stacey Links