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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Federalism & Decentralization: Evaluating Africa's Track Record by Universiteit Leiden

126 ratings

About the Course

In this political science course you will learn about the twin concepts of federalism and decentralization. You will develop an understanding of the core ideas that federalism and decentralization rest on, and study the building blocks that make them both work. Following a general overview of both federalism and decentralization, we will examine a number of case-studies from Africa where federalism and decentralization have been changing the continent’s political landscape in the last twenty years, coinciding with unprecedented levels of economic growth. What is federalism and how is it different from decentralization? What are the core ideas behind these concepts? Do federalism and decentralization enhance democracy, governance and diversity? Is that why virtually all countries south of the Sahara are now either federal or decentralized? We will be looking at Africa's track-record in order to answer these questions. By the end of the course, you will have acquired a general knowledge of federalism/decentralization and additional empirical knowledge of a number of African cases. Upon completion you will also acquire the ability to unpack and understand a variety of potential consequences of federalism/decentralization reforms in the developing world....

Top reviews


Jul 24, 2020

An exellent course which gave me a comprehensive, nuanced insight into devolution of power in African countries. Very well presented, interesting content and very good assignment.


Sep 1, 2017

I truly enjoyed the course on Federalism and Decentralization: Evaluating Africa's Track Record and a big thank you to the entire team.

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1 - 25 of 29 Reviews for Federalism & Decentralization: Evaluating Africa's Track Record

By Melly H

Jun 6, 2017

Dr. Jan Erk makes this course so engaging and interesting! He's one of the clearest professors lecture-wise and a great speaker. The concepts are well organized and easy to follow. Thank you for teaching and I look forward to finishing this course as well as others you'll be teaching in the future!

By sixtus u o

May 18, 2016

Very exciting, informing and educative. A great platform to examine if the promises of federalism and decentralization has truely lived up to expectations given the huge challenges of diversity, democracy and good governance in Africa.

By Albertus S

Sep 17, 2019

Incredibly thorough for a free online course. I learned quite a lot and the use of case studies was very helpful

By Van B K

Oct 26, 2016

Content wise and pedagogically I found this course extremely valuable. It gives you a nuanced insight into 'federalism' and 'decentralisation'. Particularly valuable are 1. The conscious incorporation of a multi-disciplinary perspective that shows that the actual practice of these political architectures are by no means shaped primarily by their institutional design, but heavily influenced by historical, political, social, economic and cultural factors. 2. The extensive references to the three major cases in Africa, particularly through the reading. Very interesting articles also that draw attention to in-country variations and how recentralisation may occur within federal and decentralised systems. Pedagogically the course is also well set up. Jan Erks is an excellent presenter whose tone of voice, articulation and body language make for effective communication. What on the surface seems to be periodic 'repetition' of key points, in fact is intentionally designed so as to get key messages reinforced. There were only three weaknesses in the course when I did it: 1. The English transcripts should have been checked. They may have been done by volunteers whose input is admirable, but often there are grammatical errors or it was obvious that the transcriber didn't understand/capture what Jan Erks was saying. 2. Four out of the readings, which like the others should have been accessible, actually were not - only if you paid for them, which is not what it should have been. 3. This course now seems to be running on automatic pilot: there was no indication whatsoever that there was anyone making up a support person or support team who was monitoring the discussion forum, where the problem of the inaccessible readings was flagged up in week 2 already. So it wasn't rectified by the end of the course. That is not serious, certainly not for a university with a reputation as that of Leiden. Some attention please, and rapid corrective action!

By Luiza C

Nov 6, 2015

This has been the most interesting course for me so far on coursera (I have done about 9 so far). The lecturer and the topic were both interesting and presented in a lively and accurate manner especially concerning Africa. No assumptions or stereotypes on the continent or topic were made and I learned a lot.

There ain't many courses here on Africa and this was was so engaging I completed a 7 week course in 1 week, that's how much I actually enjoyed it. The course material is deep and confusing thus a lot of focus is need and this was a course I actually wasn't able to multi-task on because it requires much of a person's attention.

By Pablo A G M

Jan 20, 2016

Great course and very well explained.

I have decided not to click the maximum puntuation because the course focused on Africa less than I expected. It focuses much more on Federalism and Decentralization, which is good. However, I missed more info about Africa.

Congrats for the interesting course!

By Nancy K

Sep 15, 2019

This was a very informative course especially for me as Kenyan as we are just getting in to Decentralization as a political management system. I have also gained some valuable knowledge on the workings of Federalism, its origin and the comparative implementation of the system with particular interest with the African states of South Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia that practice this system.

I can now confidently participate in discussions about these twin concepts. I am also eager to share the gained knowledge with my peers.

This is indeed invaluable!!

By Kelly C O M

Jul 28, 2020

Excelente curso! Muito interessante e com muito conteúdo, contudo falha ao adotar uma visão muito europeia e ocidental e por vezes, apresenta a África como sendo "inferior" em alguns casos enquanto defende uma visão neoliberal pro continente. Masss, vale a pena!

By Joseph C

Oct 18, 2015

Interesting subject matter. Very informative and complete. Dr. Erk did a fine job as an instructor. I did have some technical issues, but this is only to be expected in any large, dynamic organization.

By Daniel E Ó L

Jul 25, 2020

An exellent course which gave me a comprehensive, nuanced insight into devolution of power in African countries. Very well presented, interesting content and very good assignment.

By Dilipsing B

Sep 2, 2017

I truly enjoyed the course on Federalism and Decentralization: Evaluating Africa's Track Record and a big thank you to the entire team.

By Просянов Г А

Apr 10, 2018

The course that can help you get the knowledge about federalism and basic knowledge about some african countries.


Jul 18, 2017

Proud to be part of this learning space, looking forward for more of your offerings.

By Conrado T D J

Sep 25, 2016

Excellent Material for the passionate students of better government in the future!


Aug 11, 2017

Fun course and exceptionally interesting as well. Thanks so much!

By jana b

Jun 10, 2017

Straightforward and very informative, just what I like in a course!

By Tan Y

Mar 19, 2022

Very ineresting introduction course for African politics

By Ibrahim K M

Feb 28, 2016

Very interesting and informative. THANK YOU.

By Ramesh J P G

Oct 15, 2016

Amazing and insightful course.

By Mahad B

May 22, 2022

very interesting course

By Toumana D

Mar 25, 2019

nice course

By Wilson A

Aug 12, 2022


By Daniel H J

Jan 22, 2020


By Vicky

Nov 16, 2017

Amazing professor! He really has a way to get you into it. The course in itself is also really interesting and the material provided really helps to dwell into all. Thank you! Really enjoyed it and I really recommend it.

By Ebiboderi N O

Jan 21, 2017

Great course. This course cleared up the confusion i previously experienced concerning the concepts. I will keep recommending the course to friends.