This module provides a historical and thematic introduction to the issues facing Africa in the international system today. The module is divided into two sections. The first section explores the historical incorporation of the continent into the emerging international system centred on Europe from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. We focus on the impact of colonialism and independence in terms of the economy, the state and the politics of race and the implications these have for the region’s prospects for democracy and development today. The second section looks at key contemporary issues and agents shaping the continent. The latter includes ‘top-down’ actors such as the Chinese state, as well as grassroots actors such as unionised South African workers.