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The Politics of Security in Africa - POL00050H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Olayinka Ajala
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

This module will provide students with an in-depth look at the politics of security across Africa, both north and south of the Sahara. It brings together a focus on key traditional security issues such as civil wars and insurgencies, but also shows the rise of 'non-traditional' security concerns such as irregular migration, health security, and extremism. In doing so, it seeks to familiarize students with the key historical trends and current trends that shape the politics of security in Africa. The focus on the politics of security specifically is intended to get students to understand the contestations, forms of authority, and institutions that arise in the formation of, and responses to, security threats. Throughout the course, the focus returns to forms of authority that emerge either 'above' the state (interventions) or 'below' it (insurgencies, etc.) and the effects of these forms of governance.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the main theoretical approaches to security politics and African studies.
  • Understand and distinguish, through independent learning, the importance of different security issues across the African continent.
  • Be able to design and carry out original independent research and communicate it at an advanced level to the instructor and to their peers.
  • Synthesise and communicate (orally and textually) independent views about the contending perspectives across the issue areas tackled in the module, with awareness of related academic conventions.

Module content

Lecture 1: The politics of security

Lecture 2: Introducing African politics

Lecture 3: Political economies of violence and insurgency

Lecture 4: Global interventions and crisis management

Lecture 5: What happens after conflict?

Lecture 6: Terrorism and counterterrorism in Africa

Lecture 7: Borders, mobility, and illicit flows

Lecture 8: Security and policing beyond the state


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Abrahamsen, R. and Williams, M.C. 2011. Security Beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Autesserre, S. 2014. Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. Cambridge University Press.

Chalfin, B. 2010. Neoliberal Frontiers: An Ethnography of Sovereignty in West Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Herbst, J. 2000. States and Power in Africa: Comparatives Lessons in Authority and Control. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Shore, C. and Wright, S. 1997. Anthropology of Policy: Perspectives on Governance and Power. New York: Routledge.

Scheele, J. 2012. Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams M.C. 2007. Culture and Security: Symbolic power and the politics of international security. London: Routledge.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students