Politics of Development in Africa

Subject DEVT90049 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

May, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 15-May-2015 to 23-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 15-May-2015
Census Date 29-May-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 12-Jun-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: This subject will be taught intensively from 9:00am - 5:00pm on 15, 16, 22, 23 May 2015.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Undergraduate background in development studies, politics or area studies (Africa).

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Objectives, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Melissa Phillips


Dr. Melissa Phillips


Subject Overview:

Sub-Saharan Africa is often viewed as a ‘basket-case’ of development, having failed to shake the perception, in many circles, that it is the ‘dark continent’. While Asian and Latin American countries make progress in terms of both economic growth and human development, with few exceptions African countries face decreasing rates of both. This stunted development is often explained as the result of political challenges, be they institutional (failed states, corrupt leaders) or informal (political cultures of patrimonialism, or even anti-modern societies). This course introduces students to important debates around the impact of both formal and informal politics on development in Africa, encouraging students to think critically about the normative implications of different approaches to the politics of development, and the empirical challenges of working in what are, in development, always highly politically charged environments. This course examines key themes in the study of sub-Saharan African development, focussing on the political aspects of development, and applying theoretical and conceptual work in the field to the study of a range of particular development challenges facing the continent. The course aims to provide students who have no prior study of Africa or African development with a foundation that can be used in further study. As such, the course is selective in its choice of both general scholarly themes and empirical material.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • Identify and critically engage with key contemporary debates about development in Africa, including surrounding colonialism and neo-colonialism, modernity, neoliberalism, the role of private, non-state actors in development, and the place of gender in development policy and planning;
  • Identify and understand some of the key issues in contemporary development in African including the politics of land rights and land reform, natural resource management and tourism, democratisation, urban poverty, gender-based disadvantage, social conflict and race relations, and migration;
  • Develop analytical and some research skills in order to critically connect scholarly debates to contemporary development issues.

A 2,000 word critical review essay (45%) due 1 week after the intensive period, and a 3,000 word research essay (55%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: As this is an Intensively-taught subject, seminar attendance is compulsory on all 4 days. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Texts to be advised by the subject coordinator.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who complete this subject should:

  • Enhance their competence in critical thinking and verbal argumentation through participation in seminar discussions;
  • Demonstrate a high level of competence in critical and theoretical thinking and argumentation in written form;
  • Develop independent research skills, both desk-based and interview based; and/or develop critical policy analysis skills;
  • Be able to implement academic protocols of research, writing and presentation;
  • Be able to identify and analyse complex and on-going empirical development issues.
Links to further information: http://ssps.unimelb.edu.au/
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Development Studies
100 Point Master of Development Studies (Gender && Development)
100 Point Master of International Relations
100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Development Studies
150 Point Master of Development Studies (Gender && Development)
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 point program - full time over 18 months
200 Point Master of Development Studies
200 Point Master of Development Studies (Gender && Development)
200 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months
Gender and Development Specialisation - 100 Point Program
Gender and Development Specialisation - 150 Point Program
Gender and Development Specialisation - 200 Point Program

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