Syllabus for Africa: Histories, Ecologies, and Sustainabilities

Afrika: historier, ekologier och hållbarhet


  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 5AR029
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Archaeology A1N

    Explanation of codes

    The code indicates the education cycle and in-depth level of the course in relation to other courses within the same main field of study according to the requirements for general degrees:

    First cycle

    • G1N: has only upper-secondary level entry requirements
    • G1F: has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • G1E: contains specially designed degree project for Higher Education Diploma
    • G2F: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • G2E: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements, contains degree project for Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
    • GXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

    Second cycle

    • A1N: has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • A1F: has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • A1E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (60 credits)
    • A2E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)
    • AXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2021-11-01
  • Established by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: Spring 2022
  • Entry requirements:

    A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.

  • Responsible department: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History

Learning outcomes

After completing this course students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an in depth understanding of African archaeology and landscape history and its sources
  • Critically assess the historical process of food production in Africa. and in relation to food security and resilience
  • Critically assess historical urban processes in Africa, and their relation to the sustainability of African cities today and in the future
  • Critically assess African landscape histories in relation to conservation, and development and environmental policy


The course is orientated to students from archaeology, history, or sustainability who wants to build an in depth understanding of African archaeology and history and to understand the linkages between historical knowledge and sustainability. For students coming from the field of sustainability studies with an interest in African continent, the course gives a necessary historical background to understanding the present society and landscape. The early innovations in food production, and later experimentation with new crops are important reference points for knowledge and perspectives on sustainable agriculture and management of food today. The course also goes through past patterns of urbanism and centralised organisation of trade and resources allow for a better understanding of urban challenges and futures. Landscape history is fundamental to conservation management, development and landscape planning. Through case studies, the course will zoom in on regions or periods in time that can elucidate societal transitions in farming, urbanism and landscape management.


Instruction consists of lectures and seminars. Instruction is given in English. The students will choose areas for in depth studies individually or in a group and will present their case studies in seminar form.


Assessment takes the form of participation in seminars, individual and group presentations and an individual written assignment. Active participation in seminars and class activities is a requirement. The examination can be in English or Swedish.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Other directives

The course overlaps with 5AR007 Africa: Food, Metals and Towns 7.5 credits - the two courses cannot be included in the same degree.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Autumn 2022

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Isendahl, Christian; Stump, Daryl The Oxford handbook of historical ecology and applied archaeology

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015-

    Table of Contents / Abstracts

    Ekblom, Anneli (2015, 2018) Archaeology, historical sciences and environmental conservation. In: Stump, D., Isendahl, C. ed. Oxford Handbook of historical Ecology and Applied Archaeology, 72-90. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Find in the library

  • Murray, Martin J.; Myers, Garth Andrew. Cities in contemporary Africa [Elektronisk resurs]

    New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2006

    Table of Contents / Abstracts

    Simone, AbdouMaliq (2006) South African Urbanism: Between the Modern and the Refugee Camp. In: Murray M.J., Myers G.A. (eds) Cities in Contemporary Africa, 241-246. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Find in the library


  • Mitchell, Peter; Lane, Paul J. The Oxford handbook of African archaeology [Elekronisk resurs]

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    Wynne-Jones, Stephanie. Material Culture, Space, and Identity. 177-187. Giblin, J. (2013) Politics, Ideology, and Indigenous Perspectives. 253-265. Sinclair, Paul (2013) The archaeology of African urbanism. 689-702.

    Find in the library

  • Isichei, Elizabeth A history of African societies to 1870 [Elektronisk resurs]

    Johanneshov: TPB, 2012

    Ischichei, Elisabeth (2008) A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

    Find in the library


  • Stahl, Ann Brower African archaeology : a critical introduction

    Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005, [eg. 2004]

    Lane, Paul, J. (2005) Barbarous tribes and unrewarding gyrations? The changing role of ethnographic imagination in African archaeology. in AB Stahl (ed.), African Archaeology: A Critical Introduction, 24-54. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Find in the library