The MA in African Studies provides an unrivalled programme of advanced modules 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. 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.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)
- One calendar year (full-time);
Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
NB: In Area Studies degrees:
1) a maximum of 60 credits can be taken in any one discipline.
2) a minimum of three disciplines must be covered.
3) for students opting to take two language acquisition modules, only one of these can be at introductory level
Choose modules from the List of Modules below to the value of 90 credits
Choose a module(s) from the List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits
Choose a module(s) from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits
List of Taught Modules (subject to availability)
Anthropology (minor only)
Language (minor only)
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
One-year Masters programmes consist of 180 credits. 120 credits are taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks); the dissertation makes up the remaining 60 units. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.
As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework and revising for examinations. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
More information is on the page for each module.
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.
Teaching and Learning
- Students will acquire knowledge and critical awareness of current issues and/or insights into Africa from the perspective of at least two social sciences and/or humanities disciplines.
- The student will have the opportunity of gaining knowledge or further knowledge of an African language.
- The student will gain specialized and in - depth knowledge in one particular area of the study of Africa and from disciplinary perspective
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
- Students will develop a critical and analytical approach to issues relating to Africa in the disciplinary areas chosen.
- Students will develop skills of synthesizing materials from a variety of sources and presenting these in writing and orally in an academic context.
- Students will have the opportunity of researching topics which have been little commented on in the secondary literature and thus develop research skills by working on primary sources.
Subject -based Practical Skills
- Students will gain specific knowledge of aspects of African life, which will prepare them for working in Africa.
- The specialist knowledge developed in the individual courses will allow students to add an academically grounded perspective to their particular subsequent work context.
- If a student takes an African language they will have a strong practical skill, which will help them in any context where the language is used and which will also be of benefit if they need to learn another language in the future.
- Through managing their studies students will develop the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility.
- In researching and writing coursework and the dissertation students will develop research and writing skills.
- Students will develop the skills of independent learning required for continuing onto a research degree or for professional development.
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
Mia Eskelund Pedersen
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.