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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: History

HIST43330: Tribe and Nation in Africa

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To gain an advanced understanding of the history of ethnicity and nationalism in modern Africa.


  • This module explores selected aspects of the history of ethnicity, tribes and nationalism in modern Africa reflecting current debate on the subject. Topics discussed will include European understandings of African 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 'nationalism'; specific 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:
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of aspects of the history of ethnicity and nationalism in modern Africa
  • a knowledge and understanding of aspects of the advanced historiography of ethnicity and nationalism
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at:
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at:

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
  • Seminars and Group Discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; set reading of secondary and, where appropriate, primary readings; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of modern African ethnicity and nationalism.
  • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience.
  • Assessment is by means of a 5000 word essay which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of aspects of the history and historiography of modern African ethnicity and nationalism. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis, and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
seminars 8 weekly 2 hours 16
discussion groups 2 two a term 2 hours 4
structured reading and essay preparation 280

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments delivered orally and discussed in a group context.

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