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Borders, Boundaries and Belonging: Migrations in Sub-Saharan Africa since 1900 - HIS00139M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Joseph Mujere
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

There has been a recent upsurge in scholarly attention investigating the link between migration, land ownership, and the politics of belonging in Africa. This has largely been influenced by contemporary concerns about population movements triggered by conflicts, climate change, and global inequalities. This course explores the history of colonial migrations, the politics of citizenship and borderlands, epidemics and population movements; and the emergence of an African diaspora in Europe. The course examines the centrality of migration and the construction of belonging in the modern history of Africa. It draws on a set of carefully selected themes and studies cases to analyse the effects of specific historical events and evolution of socio-political processes that engendered people’s movements and identity formation in African history. In addition, it examines economic, political, and environmental (including climate change) factors that trigger human movements and how people established new identities, reframed old ones, and crafted new politics of inclusion and exclusion.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • Develop skills of source analysis and interpretation
  • Assess a range of source material and relevant secondary works; and
  • Develop students’ powers of evidence-based historical argument, both orally and in writing.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of a specialist historiographical literature;
  • Present findings in an analytical framework derived from a specialist field;
  • Solve a well-defined historiographical problem using insights drawn from secondary and, where appropriate, primary sources.
  • Set out written findings using a professional scholarly apparatus.

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing (RAW) weeks during which there are no seminars, and during which students research and write a formative essay, consulting with the module tutor. Students prepare for eight seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Theories of Migration
  2. Colonialism, Colonial Boundaries, and African migration
  3. Lebanese Migrants in Colonial Africa
  4. Labour Migrations
  5. Population Movements and Pandemics
  6. Displacements and Squatter Settlements
  7. Perils of Belonging: Migration and the Politics of Exclusion in Africa
  8. Migration, Refugee Crisis and the African diaspora in Europe


Task Length % of module mark
Long Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students submit a 2,000-word formative essay in week 9.
A 4,000-word summative essay will be due in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Long Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will typically receive written feedback on their formative essay within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative essay during their tutor’s student hours—especially during week 11, before, that is, they finalise their plans for the Summative Essay.

For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For reading during the module, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • Brettell, C. and Hollifield, J. F(eds), Migration Theory: Talking Across Discipline (London: Routledge, 2015)
  • Geschiere, P, The perils of belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Exclusion in Africa and Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009)
  • Nugent, P and Asiwaju, A. I (eds), African Boundaries: Barriers, Conduits, and Opportunities (London: Cassel, 1996)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.