MA African Studies
Duration: One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part TimeThe 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.
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.
Anthropology (minor only)
- Culture and Society of West Africa - 15PANC083 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Culture and Society of East Africa - 15PANC084 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World - 15PANH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- African and Asian Cultures in Britain - 15PANH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Painting and Architecture in Christian NE Africa: 2nd - 17th Centuries - 15PARC012 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2013/2014
- Arts and Society in sub-Saharan Africa - 15PARH052 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Modern and Contemporary Arts in Africa - 15PARH048 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Economic development in Africa - 15PECC203 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Colonial Conquest and Social Change in Southern Africa - 15PHIH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Social and Cultural Transformations in Southern Africa Since 1945 - 15PHIH003 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2013/2014
- Warfare and the Military in African History - 15PHIC070 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Slavery in West Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries - 15PHIH028 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Historical Perspectives on Gender in Africa - 15PHIH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
Language (minor only)
- Amharic 1 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC130 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Amharic 2 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC131 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hausa 1 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC136 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Hausa 2 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC138 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Somali 1 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC132 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Somali 2 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC133 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Swahili 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PAFC140 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Intermediate Swahili 2A (Postgraduate) - 15PAFC141 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Swahili 3 (Postgraduate) - 15PAFC142 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Practical translation from and into Swahili - 15PAFC029 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Yoruba 1 (Postgraduate) - 15PAFC134 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Yoruba 2 (Postgraduate) - 15PAFC135 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Zulu 1 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC128 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Zulu 2 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC129 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Zulu 3 (postgraduate) - 15PAFC137 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2013/2014
- Islamic law (MA/LLM) - 15PLAC121 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- The structure of Bantu languages (Masters) - 15PAFC126 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Literatures in African languages - 15PAFC124 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Travelling Africa: Writing the Cape to Cairo - 15PAFC139 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- African Philosophy (Postgraduate) - 15PAFH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Afrophone Philosophies (Postgraduate) - 15PAFH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2013/2014
- Aspects of African film and video 1 - 15PAFH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Aspects of African film and video 2 - 15PAFH007 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2013/2014
- Curating Africa: African Film and Video in the Age of Festivals - 15PAFH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Government and politics in Africa - 15PPOC205 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Preaching Prayer and Politics: Independent Christians in Southern Africa - 15PSRH042 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2013/2014
- African Missionaries - 15PSRH043 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
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.
The 10,000-word dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
Nuren Sherali Parpia
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.