Approaches to African Studies: Concepts, Methods and Theories

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

The module introduces students to different conceptual and methodological approaches to the study of Africa, and provides the wider intellectual background for the MA African Studies programme.

We will look at how Africa has been conceptualized and represented at different times and from different perspectives, and investigate different views of Africa as a physical, social and cultural space. We will explore how Africa relates to its Diaspora and the wider world, through historical links and connections, trade and migration, and new digital communication.

Particular attention will be placed on colonialism and colonial legacies, as well as on recent discourses on decolonising currently underway in many public domains.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • identify current debates and discussions on topics of particular importance for understanding Africa such as those covered in the syllabus
  • evaluate new and alternative concepts, narratives and debates on, as well as about the continent and its multiple diasporas
  • devise critical frameworks in thinking beyond mainstream representation of Africa as a physical, political, social and cultural space
  • conduct quality research in African studies with rigorous methodology and sound theories


Two hours of class per week (1h lecture, 1h seminar).

Scope and syllabus

Main topics of the syllabus include:

  • Conceptualizations and representations of Africa
  • Africa as a physical, social and cultural space
  • African diasporas
  • historical links and connections, trade and migration
  • digital communication
  • Youth and urban culture
  • Music and verbal art
  • Architecture and nature
  • Borders and boundaries
  • Multilingualism

Method of assessment

  • 30% - Essay or Blog post (1000 words)
  • 70% - Portfolio of formative activities such as online discussion, discussion questions alongside a final essay or blog post (3000 words)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.