Development Experience in Sub Saharan Africa Title: What are the most convincing arguments for why the development experience in Sub-Saharan
Africa has been in many ways disappointing?
Development Experience in Sub Saharan Africa Criteria
- Understanding of the subject
- Utilization of proper academic [or other] style (e.g. citation of references, or use of proper
Legal style for court reports, etc.)
- The relevance of material selected and of the arguments proposed
- Planning and organization
- Logical coherence
- Critical evaluation
- Comprehensiveness of research
- Evidence of synthesis
- Innovation / creativity / originality
The language used must be of a sufficient standard to permit assessment of the above criteria.
These minimum core criteria form a part of the School’s core academic standards, applied to all coursework and as such, they would not usually be subject to any modification, even as a reasonable adjustment for students with disabilities.
– shows clear evidence of wide and relevant reading and an engagement with the conceptual issues
– develops a sophisticated and intelligent argument
– shows a rigorous use and a confident understanding of relevant source materials
– achieves an appropriate balance between factual detail and key theoretical issues
– provides evidence of original thinking
Development Experience in Sub Saharan Africa Writing Guideline
The Introduction is arguably the most important part of your planning and execution. Get this right and with luck and more planning, the rest will follow – providing you have done the necessary reading and thinking. The challenge is that it should not take up too much space and you should aim for 500 words maximum. The main point is to explain and contextualize your work. So, this would include:
- The broad themes and why they are important/relevant
- Then, narrow down to your focus and either research or essay question
- Your argument/thesis – but not the details of your empirical research
- How your arguments relate to the field.
- Your plan of attack – the structure of your essay/answer.
If you are answering a specific essay question, then deconstruct it and re-present the key themes in your own words. In effect, repackage the question. If you going to use a case study in your answer – pretty much all Development Studies essays require some form of empirical evidence – be sure NOT to frame your answer in terms of the case study. The trick is to address directly the concepts raised in the essay question.
You must use the essay question as part of your essay title. You may add your own subtitle but this must be explained in the introduction and you must show its relationship to the essay question at the very beginning of the introduction.
Constructing an argument is a crucial aspect of all assignments – even a book review is an informed opinion that must be properly premised. Your argument/opinion may agree/disagree with an existing school of thought within the appropriate field or discipline or it may be your own. If the latter, it must be based in the relevant literature and supported by empirical evidence. Avoid the sentence constructions that start with ‘I think/believe/feel…’ followed by a statement. This is almost always meaningless and will certainly ring alarm bells in the marker’s head. Instead, reassure her with sentences that begin with ‘The evidence supports the claim that …’
That said, it is fine to use ‘I’ in contemporary essay writing in the social sciences. It is not, however, acceptable to use ‘we’ unless you really do represent more than one author (or are royalty!).
Don’t leave information hanging in the air – explore it to make a point and support it with a quotation or reference. If you are developing an argument that draws on opposing schools of thought or ideas, then don’t simply write one out and then move on to the opposing view.
Deconstruct the different aspects of each approach and set them up against each other. This technique is called engaging with the literature and you need to learn this skill.
A Literature Review is an account written in discursive prose of what has been published on a topic by scholars and researchers. Its purpose is to convey what knowledge and ideas have been established in the area of your research. It is not a list of material available or a set of summaries. A good literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in information/data seeking and critical appraisal and should do the following:
- Be organized around and related directly to your research/essay question
- Synthesize results in a discursive summary of what is known
- Identify areas of controversy in the literature
If you quote an author directly, try to fit her language into your own prose via quotation marks rather than a separate full quote. If the latter is necessary – and sometimes it is –avoid going beyond three lines (this is usually possible) and make sure you provide a page number when citing rather than just the name and date required when you explain an author’s idea or argument.
The analysis is crucial. Your essays should not be restricted to a description of phenomena –
that is the terrain of journalists. An analysis is a combination of theoretical insight and relevant empirical data in which the former is deployed to explain the latter. You may draw on theories discussed in the module or introduce additional theories.
Where your analytical section goes in your essay depends on the structure – hopefully, this will have been agreed with your tutor/lecturer/academic advisor in a draft structure. The aim is to link the empirical data back to your core arguments and where possible draw on insight and themes discussed in the literature review i.e. join up the dots via an appropriate balance between factual detail and key theoretical issues.
Conclusions are the last thing the reader – in this case, the marker – reads. Spend time crafting it, avoid calling for more research – it’s probably been done already and may show you missed it! The same goes for recommendations unless you are working on a policy review assessment – and even then, check the assignment guidelines. Do not introduce new material in the conclusion. It should serve the sole purpose of summing up the arguments you have made in the essay and drawing a conclusion from them.
Some readings that might help:
UNECA (2016), ‘From “African Growth Tragedy” to “Africa Rising”: Debunking the Myths’, Chapter 2 in Transformative Industrial Policy in Africa, Addis Ababa: UNECA. http://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/PublicationFiles/tipa-chap2_en.pdf
Page, J. (2011) ‘Can Africa Industrialise?’ Journal of African Economies, 21(suppl 2), pp. ii86–ii124. doi: 10.1093/jae/ejr045.
Austin, Gareth (2015), ‘The Economics of Colonialism in Africa’, Chapter 27 in Monga, C. and Lin, J. Y. (eds.) (2015) The Oxford Handbook of Africa and economics: Volume 1: Context and concepts. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Chang, Ha-Joon and Christopher Cramer (2015), ‘Tigers or Tiger Prawns? The African Growth “Tragedy” and “Renaissance” in Perspective’, Chapter 25 in Monga, C. and Lin, J. Y. (eds.) (2015) The Oxford Handbook of Africa and economics: Volume 1: Context and concepts. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Collier P and Gunning W. (1999), “Why Has Africa Grown Slowly?, Journal of Economic Perspectives, No. 3, Summer.
Jerven, Moten (2015), ‘Measuring Economic Progress in the African Context’, Chapter 20 in Monga, C. and Lin, J. Y. (eds.) (2015) The Oxford Handbook of Africa and economics: Volume 1: Context and concepts. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Hino, H., Lonsdale, J., Ranis, G. and Stewart, F. (eds.) (2012) ‘Ethnic patriotism and markets in African history’, Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa, pp. 19–55. doi: 10.1017/cbo9781139198998.005.
Sender, J. (1999), “Africa’s Economic Performance: Limitations of the Current Consensus”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, No. 3, Summer.
Stiglitz, J., Lin, J., Monga, C. and Patel, E. (2013) ‘Industrial policy in the African context’, Policy Research Working Papers, . doi: 10.1596/1813-9450-6633