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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

BA African Studies and ...

Programme Code: (see May Be Combined With) Duration: 3 years


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB
  • IB: 35 (6/6/5)
  • 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 an African language is required.

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, Yorùbá 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.

Students taking the two-subject degree take a combination of units from African Studies and from their other subject.


May be combined with

** Taught at King’s College London


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. Over the three years they must take at least 5 units from one subject and at least 4 units from the other subject. The subject with the largest number of course units will be named first in the degree.

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

Students may take open option units in a joint degree as long as the required number of units for each of the named subjects is passed at the end of the degree.

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, if they wish, from Language II 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. Note that list A includes both culture courses and language courses. Students who wish to concentrate on language may take more than one African language; please discuss with your Personal Tutor.

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) and Development Studies. 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. Please discuss it with your Personal Tutor at the end of year 1 or the beginning of year 2 of your degree.

Year 1
Choose one

Choose one of the following courses.

Language Course 1

A course unit at a suitable level in an African language.

Other Subject

Take 2 units in the second subject

Year 2
Language Course 2

An African language unit following on from Language I

Optional Course

Choose a course from the list of optional courses

Other Subject

Choose 2 units from the second subject OR 1 unit from the second subject and 1 unit from the list of optional courses.

Year 3
Advanced Language

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

Optional Course

Choose a course from the list of optional courses

Other Subject

Choose 2 units from the second subject OR 1 unit from the second subject and 1 unit 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

Year abroad

Although not compulsory, spending time in Africa is encouraged

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.  

Choosing to study a joint degree programme will increase the breadth of your knowledge, and will develop additional skills with which to further your studies of the African continent, or to make comparative study with other areas.  African Studies may be combined with a huge range of other disciplines.  For more information on the extra skills you will gain from your second subject, please see the relevant departmental page.  

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

Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln
Embassy of Sweden in Khartoum
German Development Cooperation (GIZ)
London Centre Social Impact
Marie Stopes International
Oxford University
Amnesty International
Pearson PLC
Plan International
Samsung Securities Co. Ltd
Save the Children
St John's Way Medical Centre
University of London
World Vision International

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Project Manager
Monitoring & Evaluation Officer
Project Support Worker
Programme Assistant
MA Student
Diversity Communications Officer
Engagement skills training Coordinator
Teacher of English
Events Officer
Advocacy Officer

Others have found work in:

  • Education
  • Government
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • UN Agencies

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