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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

MA African Studies

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 Studies provides an unrivalled programme of advanced courses on Africa; one of the world’s most fascinating and challenging regions. The opportunity for interdisciplinary study of the continent is a particular advantage of the degree. Students can choose from a range of about 30 courses in fourteen disciplines. Our former students have chosen to study Africa at this level for a wide range of reasons. For some a deep interest in the history and culture or political economy of a particular region is sufficient motivation, but for many students the programme has, in addition, been followed with the intention of furthering their career opportunities. Some go on to work either in Africa or in fields related to Africa. The opportunity to combine study of particular African subjects with an African language is very useful, although some evidence of competence in learning a foreign language is usually required.

Structure

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 take three taught course units, one of which is considered a major, and complete a 10,000-word dissertation related to the major.

As the emphasis in the Regional Studies programmes is on interdisciplinary study, students are required to select their three course units from more than one subject. One course unit may be made up of two 0.5 unit courses. The subjects of the programme are: Anthropology, Art, Economics, History, Law, Literature, Media, Politics, Religious Studies, and Language.

The two minor course units can be taken in the same subject (but different to that of the major), or two different ones.

A language course can only be taken as a minor course, and only one language course can be taken.

Candidates who wish to take a language at other than introductory level will be assessed at the start of term to determine which is the most appropriate level of study.

When applying, applicants are asked to specify their preferred major and minor subjects, and asked to give alternative choices as practical considerations such as time tabling and availability of courses may limit freedom of choice.

Once enrolled, students have two weeks to finalise their choice of subjects and have the opportunity of sampling a variety of subjects through attending lectures etc.

All courses are subject to availability.

Course Options
Anthropology (minor only)
Art
Economics
History
Language (minor only)
Law
Linguistics
Literature
Media
Politics
Religious Studies

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Teaching is normally provided by lecture or seminar and students are required to attend such classes. Each student will be assigned a supervisor in connection with his or her dissertation.

Lectures and Seminars

Most courses involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

Dissertation

The 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.

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 studies 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, literature, history, cinema, politics, economics or law. 

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. 

Some MA African Studies 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. Among a variety of professions, career paths may include: Academia; Charity; Community; Government; NGOs; Media; Publishing and UN Agencies. 

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
  • BBC News
  • British Embassy
  • Canon Collins Educational Trust for Southern Africa
  • Goal Nigeria
  • Government of Canada
  • Hogan Lovells International LLP
  • International Institute for Environment and Development
  • Kenyan Government
  • Mercy Corps
  • Migrant Resource Centre
  • Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  • The London MENA Film Festival
  • The University of Tokyo
  • The World Bank
  • Think Africa Press
  • U.S. Embassy
  • United Nations
  • University of Namibia
  • World Vision UK
  • Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include: 
  • Development Producer
  • Africa Editor
  • Copywriter
  • Director of Trade and Investment
  • Projects and Fundraising Manager
  • Head of Desk, Africa
  • Senior Investment Manager
  • Sports Writer
  • Knowledge Management Projects Coordinator
  • Project Director
  • Presidential Advisor
  • Commodity Manager
  • Publisher
  • Tutor
  • Creative Consultant
  • Lecturer in African Arts and Cultures
  • East Africa Analyst
  • Youth Volunteer Advisor
  • Southern Region Educational Manager
  • Head Specialists Giving + Insights

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

A Student's Perspective

Previously I just dreamed about SOAS. I had some lectures on Africa while studying Social Anthropology in Hungary, and I discovered that my professor had studied at SOAS. This made me work hard to join SOAS.

Katalin Kovacs