South African Politics

Module code: PL3063

The past 3 decades have seen an immense transformation in South African society and politics. The institutionalised and structural racial segregation and disenfranchisement of apartheid has given way to a liberal multi-racial democracy - albeit one still wrestling with the legacies of the past. In this module, you’ll explore the context, themes and issues behind the politics of the Rainbow Nation.

In this module, you’ll consider the major debates in South African politics since its independence in 1948 and appraise the emergence of apartheid as both an ideology and a political system. You’ll look at the reasons behind the crisis faced by apartheid post-1976, such as the economic contraction and pressure from the West. You’ll assess the seismic political shifts from February 1990 onwards leading to the formal jettisoning of race-based constitutional solutions between 1992 and 1994. Plus, you’ll analyse the issues posed by South Africa’s post-apartheid political economy, such as the implications of one-party dominance.


  • 30 hours of seminars
  • 120 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 2,500 words (50%)
  • Exam, 2 hours (50%)