Detailed Information

CANCELLED AE-HN507 The Decolonisation of Africa since 1945: An Introduction

This course aims to introduce students to the history of the decolonisation of Africa after World War II. In the years following World War II, many countries gained their independence, marking the era of decolonisation. We will analyse what caused the break-up of the long-established empires. We will explore factors such as economic forces, independence movements and international pressures which helped bring to an end the colonial rule of the British and French among others in Africa.  In this course we will explore how African countries gained their independence and the obstacles their leaders faced in building their new nations. While millions of people were given the opportunity to vote for the first time and new postcolonial leaders brought attention to neglected issues such as economic inequality and foreign military intervention, the process of breaking away from colonial rule often entailed years of violence or protest. Even after independence, leaders faced the challenge of building governments that would provide their citizens with security along with political rights. We will assess how the leaders of the newly independent countries set about building their nation. We will consider the political and economic challenges that had to be addressed in establishing these new nations. We will also consider the importance of the Cold War in Africa and its possible impact on the newly independent nations during the era of decolonisation. Finally, we will assess the ways African countries continue to experience the legacy of colonialism and decolonisation. 

The course does not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of the history of Africa or decolonisation.

Dates Schedule Time Venue/Location Fee €
29 Jan 2024 to 11 Mar 2024 Sessions: 6
29 Jan, (no class 5 Feb), 12, 19, 26 Feb, 04, 11 Mar
19:00 Belfield


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6 Mondays


29 Jan, (no class 5 Feb), 12, 19, 26 Feb, 04, 11 Mar

  • Decolonisation of Africa and the impact of World War II.
  • The growth of national consciousness in Africa: The movement for independence.
  • The political, economic, and social challenges of establishing independent nations.
  • Decolonisation in the Cold War era.
  • The legacy of colonialism and decolonisation in Africa.

A reading list will be provided at the beginning of the course.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • critically discuss the factors that helped bring about the end of colonial rule in Africa
  • outline the key issues faced by the newly independent nations and compare and contrast how different leaders dealt with these issues. 
  • assess the legacy of colonialism and decolonisation in African countries. 

Each class will be divided between a lecture and group discussion. The lecture will give students an introduction and general overview of the weekly topic. A strong emphasis will be placed on group discussion. The group discussion will encourage students to express their views on the topics and debate key issues. Students will be introduced to primary sources, readings and video clips relevant to each topic in order to get them to fully engage with the subject. Students will be offered the opportunity to do small assignments, to delve a little deeper, but this will be an entirely optional element of the course.

Dr Sarah Feehan earned her PhD from UCD. She has previously taught courses on American foreign policy, the Vietnam War and a history of the American presidency. Her research interests include American political history and foreign policy, British foreign policy and Britain and the Commonwealth.