SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Music in Africa

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year
This course aims to provide a framework for an understanding of music originating in the African continent. Students are introduced to selected musical cultures as well as issues and approaches, with a critical look at African musicology. The course addresses both “traditional” and “popular” musics, covering some of the best documented musical genres from Africa, as well as current musical trends, and some of the leading artists. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Students will become familiar with some of the major styles, musical instruments/ensembles, and recording artists of Africa, and develop a critical understanding of the ways that they have been represented in the literature.


Two hours per week

Scope and syllabus

Term 1 presents a series of case studies of music in ritual and sacred contexts such as spirit possession, court ritual, initiation societies, and life cycle ceremonies. 

Term 2 focuses on new African musics and the music industry in and outside Africa, in the context of economic, political and social change in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Method of assessment

One 1 000 words essay (10%);One 2 500 words essay (25%); One 3 000 words essay (30%);One Oral Exam (15%); One Listening Test (20%).

Suggested reading


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