Crime, Violence, and Social Control in Africa SOCIO4124

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will broadly explore the issue of crime, violence, and its control in the Global South, with a particular empirical focus on the African context(s) as representing Global South challenges. Informed by both criminological engagement as well as inter-disciplinary perspectives, the course will focus on the linkages between crime and other social issues, such as development. In so doing, the implications of these linkages for the regulation of social order in developing/least developed contexts will be analytically explored. The course ultimately aims to highlight the complexities of crime and violence and its control in the African context acknowledging that these complexities are largely informed by the historical legacies of colonialism and/or conflict. In this respect, the course aims to critically engage with the discrepancies between Western thought and practice and the realities of crime and social control in post-conflict contexts and/or contexts of 'limited' statehood.


The course will seek to 'deconstruct' conceptions of 'Africa', and its crime, violence, and development challenges, as represented in scholarly, policy, and popular imaginations thereby challenging often stereotypical perceptions of 'Africa' by drawing on a range of empirical examples from the African context. It will engage with what is empirically known about crime and violence in Africa, and critically engage with the challenges of generating reliable knowledge of crime and violence in African contexts which are facing instability and conflict; and which are beset by developmental challenges. The course will explore the debates on so-called, 'weak' or 'failed' states and the crime-development nexus, critically interrogating the relevance of these debates to the African context(s). The course will also focus on empirical case studies of selected 'crime' issues and the ways in which these issues are governed, focusing on the plurality of the forms of social control in African contexts. The course will conclude with a reflection on the applicability and relevance of a distinct Global South or southern criminology/criminologies, in light of the oftentimes unique challenges faced on the continent as well as within particular African countries with distinctive historical and political contexts.



Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. This means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses





One essay of 4,000 words (100%)

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Although the empirical focus of the course is on the African context, the general aim of the course is to provide the opportunity for students to expand their knowledge and critical insights on Global South crime and interrelated development challenges. More specifically, the course aims:

■ to advance knowledge on the complex linkages between crime and other social issues from a Global South perspective;

■ to develop a critical awareness of competing criminological (and other disciplinary) debates on what constitutes 'crime' and the means by which it can and should be controlled or mitigated;

■ to enable an informed appraisal of the relevance of common-sense assumptions about crime and control largely informed (and dominated) by Western narratives;

■ to foster the ability to craft a critical commentary on the prospects of a distinct Global South or southern criminology/criminologies.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ identify the various historical, political, and social factors which impact on crime and its control in post-colonial and/or post-conflict contexts;

■ describe and compare various academic debates on the linkages between crime and development in the Global South;

■ interpret the value and relevance of Western theories to Global South contexts;

■ critically analyse the various ways in which the Global South is represented in academic debates within criminology (and other disciplines);

■ appraise the relevance and applicability of a distinct Global South or southern criminology/criminologies.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.