Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module HIST57130: Tribe and Nation in Africa, 1850-1990

Department: History

HIST57130: Tribe and Nation in Africa, 1850-1990

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap
Tied to


  • None


  • HIST50130

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to study at an advanced level, the history of ethnicity, tribes and nationalism in modern Africa which will enable students to acquire specific learning outcomes of the programme as whole including:
  • a specialist knowledge of imperial history
  • bibliographic skills
  • an understanding of historical debates
  • advanced skills in writing history
  • general skills of the historian


  • This module will cover selected aspects of the history of ethnicity, tribes and nationalism in modern Africa reflecting current debate on the subject and particular interests of the student. Topics may include European understandings of Africa group identity which anticipated a progression from kin group to tribe to nation and how this informed colonial policies to administration and political independence; the wider literature on the nature of ethnicity and literature on 'nationalism' in other parts of the world; specifically Africanist literature on tribe and nation, with focus on countries from East, South and West Africa; the nature of pre-colonial ideas of group identity; the effect on ideas of ethnicity of political and social change in the twentieth century; and the rise of new kinds of elite and literary culture and the relationship between state patrimonialism and group identity.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should build up critical understanding of this aspect of African history and should become aware of other boundaries of current knowledge relating to the subject.
  • Students should acquire detailed knowledge and critical understanding of one topic chosen in conjunction with the supervisor.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to undertake a programme of intensive reading directed at a number of topics.
  • Students should be able to participate in regular discussion of issues arising from the reading with their supervisor.
  • Students should then be able to produce an extensive piece of writing on this agreed subject.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Tutorials 5 fortnightly 1.5 hours 7.5
    Preparation & Reading 290
    Other: Unscheduled meetings as requested by the student. Variable Variable Up to a total of 2.5 hrs 2.5
    Total 300

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Essay 5000 words 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Discussion of work in progress. Written or oral comments on any other agreed written assignment, such as a book review or exploratory essay. In addition, supervisors will normally read and provide written comments on not more than one draft of work being prepared for summative assessment.

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University