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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

BA African Language and Culture

Programme Code: T508 BA/ALC Duration: 4 years Students will spend a period abroad depending on which African language they have chosen


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB-ABB
  • IB: 35 (665 at HL)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: No preliminary knowledge of the subject or the language is required, although we do look for ability to learn a language (e.g. language at A-level or equivalent). Applicants with non-standard qualifications may be invited for interview.

Subjects Preferred: No

Interview Policy: Candidates with 'non-standard' qualifications usually invited

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

The department houses the world’s largest concentration of scholars devoted to the study of African languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. This collective expertise gives us an unparalleled capacity for teaching, learning and research.

BA African Language and Culture is a single subject, 4-year degree combining the study to degree level of Hausa or Swahili with the study of aspects of culture in Africa. Course units focusing on Africa may be chosen from the range available on the degree.

The languages offered at the degree level are Hausa and Swahili. Students of Swahili spend two terms of year three in East Africa (currently Zanzibar and Mombasa).  The year abroad for students of Hausa is currently under review and may not be available to students beginning their degree in 2012 and beyond.

Language degrees are four-year degrees, but students pay reduced fees for the language year abroad. More information on tuition fees.


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

The two major languages available for this degree are Hausa and Swahili, other languages may be taken as part of the degree (see List of Optional Courses). Students must take 4 course units each year according to the syllabus.

Students must pass at least three course units in order to proceed to the following year, including any core courses.

Students must take a course for the year for which it is intended. Occasionally exceptions can be made in consultation with the Undergraduate Tutor and the approval of the Associate Dean.

Year 1
Core Course

An African Language 1. This course must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.

Compulsory Courses
Open Option

Choose one first year open option course.

Year 2
Core Course

African Language IIA. This course must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.

Language Course

African Language IIB.

Optional Course

Choose one course from the list of optional courses.

Open Option

Choose a course from the list of optional courses or an open option.

Year 3: Year abroad

Please see the Teaching & Learning tab for more details.

Year 4
Language Course

Language course unit in the main language.

Optional Courses

Choose 2 courses from the list of optional courses.

Open Option

Choose a course from the list of optional courses or an open option.

List of Optional Courses

Before selecting a course, student's must first check that the course is at the correct level. They must also ensure that they meet any pre-requisites.

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Please note that at present the year abroad is under review and it may be the case that for students entering the African Language and Culture degree to study Hausa will spend the third year in London.

Students taking Swahili spend the third year studying in East Africa. Students must have passed Swahili IIA and Swahili IIB in order to proceed to the year abroad. They attend the Institute of Swahili and Foreign Languages (TAKILUKI), Zanzibar State University, Tanzania where they take Advanced Swahili Usage and Kiswahili Novel and then the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa (RISSEA) in Lamu, Kenya where they take Culture and Society and Kiswahili Drama.

Teaching & Learning

Teaching is normally provided by lecture or seminar and students are required to attend such classes. Most courses involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


As a graduate who specialised in the continent of Africa, you will have gained competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of Africa. Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in both business and the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

Students from the Africa department have found work in a variety of professions including education, media and publishing.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

Amnesty International
Barclays Global Investors
Basler Afrika Bibliographien
BBC Radio 4
Christian Aid
Dragon Tiger
Financial Times
Kensington and Chelsea College
Loughborough University
MDS Transportation Consultants
National Cohesion and Integration Commission
Norman Carr Safaris
Save the Children
The Africa Report
World Challenge

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

Head of Corporate Governance
Company Director
Programme Officer
Media and Communications Lecturer
Food and Beverage Manager
Expedition Planning Manager
Volunteer Event Coordinator
Art worker

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

The name says it all – it specialises in areas you wouldn’t normally be able to study elsewhere, and is truly an outstanding academic institution.

Nazmul Hudha