SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Directed study of an African language

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3, Year 3 of 4 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

Only a tiny fraction of the 2000 or so languages spoken in Africa are formally taught at the School. This course provides a means whereby some other languages may be privately studied under experienced direction. Examples of languages which might be studied in this way include Bemba, Chichewa, Fulfulde, Igbo, Kongo, Luba, Tigrinya and Oromo. 

On the student side it requires a demonstrated linguistic ability (usually the study of another African or non-Western language); on the language side, it requires that reasonable documentation is available, and that there is an appropriate teacher willing to act as director of studies. To allow for the widely differing circumstances, before each individual course commences a statement is agreed detailing the resources available, a realistic learning objective and an appropriate form of examination. In many cases, the examination may take the form of a portfolio providing evidence of study, whose contents may include short essays, structured notes, translations, vocabularies etc. according to the strengths and deficiencies of available documentation; in other cases a more conventional written test of linguistic proficiency may be appropriate.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

These may vary depending on the directed study agreed upon, but will be agreed in advance in writing with the supervisor/Undergraduate Tutor.


A maximum of ten hours’ supervision over the academic year.

Method of assessment

  • This module is assessed by a 10,000 word portfolio, demonstrating the student's sustained engagement with the language and presenting the results of this process through notes and summaries of grammatical and lexical aspects of the language which may include a small textual study or translation, or a more focussed discussion of a specific structural or sociolinguistic aspect of the language.  The portfolio should be submitted in Term 3
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

The reading list for this course will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules