African Studies Graduate Certificate Program

Two-course Certificate in African Studies

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Certificate in African Studies is a part-time program providing a specific background in sub-Saharan African politics and government. It is especially designed for students and professionals wishing to pursue their career in all types of organizations (governmental agencies, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, private corporations…) working with or in African countries, as well as for anyone wishing to acquire an in-depth understanding of contemporary sub-Saharan Africa as one of the important arenas of world politics.

This program is composed of two courses taught in English, in Paris, and scheduled part-time over two semesters to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. Each semester course consists of one weekly three-hour session during 13 weeks.

Note that these programs are best suited to students or professionals already residing in Paris, since part-time programs in France do not grant eligibility for a student visa. However, it is possible to combine this program with other AGS Certificate programs in order to reach a full-time status (three or four courses). Please contact our Academic Coordinator for more information about this:

Please also note that the offering of this program is based on course availability. See two-year course schedule.


The Certificate in African Studies gives a historical introduction of the sub-Saharan region and covers key topics of public policy such as democratization, economic development, environment, and public health. It also addresses the issue of natural resources as a major economic and political factor in some of the countries discussed, and includes political biographies of the founding fathers and contemporary rulers.

IRD-EA-640 : Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa

The first course of this Certificate program is an introduction to African politics which provides historical background to the current problems faced by African governments, including the colonial legacy, imperial spheres of influence, great power competition during the Cold War between the US and the USSR. It is followed by the new ‘Scramble for Africa’ involving traditional Western actors in North America and Europe, but also new Asian actors such as China, Malaysia and India, and emerging countries in South America like Brazil.  Students are instructed in how the current governments came to power, the challenges they face in trying to develop their countries, such as national building in the face of ethno-regional and religious-identity movements challenging the status quo, or sub-national movements fighting wars of independence.  The effects of globalization, international organizations, and neo-colonial strategies of foreign states are discussed in light of mainstream theories of international relations (modernization and development, dependency and underdevelopment, postcolonialism, constructivism, etc.).  The dynamics of domestic politics are studied through the lens of classical institutions of political science (parties, elections, media, social movements, public opinion, legislatures, executive, army and police).

IRD-EA-641: The Scramble for African Resources

The second course of this Certificate program is an advanced research seminar on the ‘scramble’ for African resources.  Currently the high rates of economic growth on the continent are being fuelled by exports of raw materials, including traditional exports commodities (wood, coffee, cacao, cotton, rubber) but increasingly extractive industries in the mining sector (oil and natural gas, gold, copper, manganese, iron ore, diamonds, phosphates).  Reasoning by analogy from the 19th century ‘scramble’ for Africa when European powers penetrated into the interior of the continent in search of natural resource wealth, redrawing the map of Africa to suit foreign designs, this class explores the modern equivalent which, while respecting established territorial sovereignty, is redrawing the map of subsurface minerals and offshore resources.  Massive investments in the extractive industries have a profoundly corrupting effect on the politics, governments and economies of those countries who are ostensibly blessed by abundant natural resources, creating a ‘paradox of plenty.’  How can countries with such vast riches still remain among the poorest in the world ?  Efforts to fight the negative externalities of the ‘resource curse’ have been attempted over the past two decades, among which are policies for transparency by anti-corruption NGOs, sustainable development project aid by IFIs, and the peer review mechanisms of regional organisms such as SADC, ECOWAS and the AU.

French language option

In addition to these two courses, students enrolled in this Certificate program have the opportunity to take French language courses with AGS’s partner institution Alliance Française Paris-Ile de France. This is a particularly relevant complement to the African politics courses, as the African continent contains the largest number of French speakers in the world - a trend that has only increased in recent years with the demographic boom of the past half-century.

Credit Policy

The courses in this program are accredited in the US through AGS's partner institution Arcadia University. Each course bears 3 graduate credits. Courses taken as part of a Certificate program may be transferred to a full degree program at AGS (based on your eligibility for that program): M.A. in International Relations and Diplomacy or Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy. They may also be transferred to a degree program in another institution, depending on that institution's transfer policy.

Why study African politics in Paris?

France being a former colonial metropole, Paris is an ideal place to study Sub-Saharan African politics, and students in this Certificate program are encouraged to take advantage of the numerous resources and opportunities that it has to offer.

Paris is where many of the best archives are kept from the long colonial era and the period of post-colonial cooperation. Today France has permanent diplomatic contacts with sixteen Francophone countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, CAR, Djibouti, Comoros and Madagascar), all of which retain diplomatic presences in Paris, have expatriate communities who live in the capital, send students for higher education, participate in Paris-based international organizations such as UNESCO, and maintain an active intellectual and publishing life in this ‘hub’ of the French-speaking world.

Additionally, France has the largest network of developmental aid governmental programs in Africa. This can create opportunities for interviews and archival research with the numerous government agencies that conduct these programs, such as AFD (Agence Française pour le Développement). There are also many internship opportunities with both intergovernmental organizations (many of which have offices in Paris, like the UNESCO, UNEP, UNICEF, OECD) and nongovernmental organizations (Doctors Without Borders, Transparency International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, International Red Cross, Secours Catholique).


Douglas Yates, Ph.D.The African Studies courses are taught by Douglas Yates, Ph.D., a specialist of African politics and the politics of the oil industry with a twenty-five year experience researching and teaching this subject. He is the author of several books on the subject, including The Scramble for African Oil: Oppression, Corruption and War for Control of Africa's Natural Resources (London: Pluto Press, 2012), and has participated in the democracy promotion program of the US Department of State's Africa Regional Services.

See professor's full profile

Bookmark and Share

Contact Us

For any questions,
please email us at
or use the form below.
We will respond within
the next 2 working days.


©American Graduate School In Paris 2018 - All Rights Reserved. Etablissement Privé d'Enseignement Supérieur
Web Design by THAT Agency