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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

BA African Studies

Programme Code: T500 BA/AfSt Duration: 3 years


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2016 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).

Interview Policy: Applicants with non-standard qualifications may be invited for interview.

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

This 3-year degree focuses on the languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. It includes the study of an African language and a wide choice of course units in the related cultural fields of Literature, Art, Performance and Religion-Philosophy.

The languages normally available are Amharic, Hausa, Somali, Swahili, Yoruba and Zulu.

The range of expertise in SOAS, not only in the Africa Department, but also with regard to languages and literatures of other regions is unique in UK institutions. Along with proven excellence in other disciplines, such as religious studies, anthropology, art and archaeology, and history, this offers students an unparalleled range of options in choosing their second subject of study.


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.

Students must take 4 course units each year.

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

Students who fail Language I are not required to continue with Language II in the second year. Students attaining 40-50% in Language I may be exempted from Language II, if they wish, after consultation with their Personal Tutor and/or the Undergraduate Tutor.

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.

Degree title

If a student passes Language in Africa and 4 course units in one language then the language may optionally be named in the degree title, e.g. African Studies (Swahili). This option is available for Swahili, Hausa and Somali only. One of the four courses may be an Independent Study Project in which the language is used to a large extent. If this is important to you, please discuss it with your Personal Tutor at the end of year 1 or the beginning of year 2 of your degree.

Year 1
Core Course

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

Language Course 1

A course unit at a suitable level in an African language

Compulsory Course
Open Option

Choose an open option course at an appropriate level.

Year 2
Language Course 2

An African language unit following on from Language I

Optional Courses

Choose 2 units from the list of optional courses.

Open Option

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

Year 3
Compulsory Course
Advanced Language

Take an advanced language course or a course from the list of optional courses.

Optional Course

Choose a course from the list of optional courses

Open Option

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

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

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

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 student specialising in the continent of Africa, you will gain 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.

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

Amnesty International
British Army
Future Roots
Hanover Primary School
Hill and Knowlton
Institute of Education
Oakfield school
Bayer CropScience
Save the Children
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Television Executive Producer
Operations Manager Sub-Saharan Africa
Film Maker
Fundraising and Administration Coordinator
Class Teacher
PR Consultant
Student Support Officer
Teaching Assistant
Tourism and identity in Reunion Island
Artist/ PR

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

A Student's Perspective

Being at SOAS is a privilege I have greatly appreciated academically as well as socially. It really is a gem that surfaces unheard voices and unseen faces.

Nuren Sherali Parpia