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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

MA African Literature

Duration: One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Overview

Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

The MA in African Literature enables students to engage critically with varied aspects of oral and written literatures in Africa. The programme is unique in the way it encourages exploration of relationships between indigenous African aesthetics and contemporary literary theories. The course ‘Theories and Techniques of Comparative Literature’ provides theoretical and methodological skills while the programme’s other units focus on specific areas such as literatures in African languages and contemporary African literature in English.

Structure

All students are required to write a 10,000-word dissertation in the field of their major course, which allows them to carry out a substantial piece of independent academic work on a selected topic. The dissertation is taken in either the core course or in the course ‘Selected Topics’.

Students must take the core course plus two courses from list A or B. List B courses assume a linguistic competence in the chosen language equivalent to that acquired in a first degree.

Not all courses listed below may be offered every year, and new courses may become available. For an up-to-date list of courses on offer, please visit the relevant departmental website or contact the Faculty office. Some courses may be taught in other departments of the School.

Core course
List A: Pan-African Courses
List B: Language-specific Courses

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

The taught part of the course consists of core lectures introducing basic concepts, theory and methodology; and additional seminars that extend the core material into other areas. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

A 10,000-word dissertation written over the summer offers students the opportunity to develop original research in an area of special interest. The course is formulated within two tracks:

Learning Resources

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.

Destinations

A postgraduate degree in African Literature from SOAS provides students with 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, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. Graduates of this programme will develop their ability to engage with and explore relationships between indigenous African aesthetics and contemporary literary theories.  

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in the business, public and charity sectors. They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse 
range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

Some graduates leave SOAS to pursue careers directly related to their study area, while others have made use of the intellectual training for involvement in analysing and solving many of the 
problems that contemporary societies now face. The MA African Literature can lead to further study and research, however there is also a range of opportunities in fields such as:

  • Education
  • Publishing
  • Archive work
  • Arts Management
  • Media

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

A Student's Perspective

I had studied in an international school in India that focused a lot on extracurricular activities, and going to SOAS seemed like a natural continuation of my studies.

Mia Eskelund Pedersen