SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

MSc Politics of Africa (2022 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

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Overview and entry requirements

Our African Politics MSc explores ideology, power and relationships across the continent: from state-building to social protest, philosophies of liberation and race to gender and inter-generational dynamics. 

These themes are not only central to the continent’s politics, but to understanding how the world works and how political ideas are shaped. From negotiations over the international economic system, to the politics of international justice, human rights, military intervention and the climate emergency, the politics of Africa cannot be seen as separate from or peripheral to the rest of the world but at its core. African dynamics are vital to any adequate understanding of the most important political ideas and forces that shape our world.

We are the only university in the UK to offer a masters degree in the Politics of Africa.

See Department of Politics and International Studies

Why study MSc Politics of Africa at SOAS

  • We’re based in a top department – ranked 5th in the UK for Politics, as well as 3rd globally for academic reputation (QS World University Rankings 2022) – and with an unmatched focus on politics outside the West.
  • SOAS is unique: we have an unparalleled body of teaching staff focused on African Politics, and a global student body: in recent years around half of the students on this degree have been from Africa. Our multi-disciplinary approach, critical and questioning attitude, and the community in which teaching and research are embedded, moves the student experience well beyond the ‘skills training’ found in many programmes.
  • SOAS is the home of African studies in London, hosting a pulsating programme of speaker events featuring a constant stream of African political leaders and thinkers, artists and activists. 
  • The SOAS Library is one of the world's most important for the study of Africa, housing over 1.3 million volumes, together with a major collection of archives, manuscripts, rare books and special collections. 


Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with a 2:2 (or international equivalent) or higher in a relevant subject. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application such as supporting statement. References are optional, but can help build a stronger application if you fall below the 2:2 requirement or have non-traditional qualifications. 

    Please see our 'postgraduate entry requirements' page for Overseas and EU qualifications and equivalencies.

Featured events

One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only) Students usually complete their core modules in Year 1, and their option modules and dissertation in subsequent years.

Fees 2022/23

Home students fees:
Overseas students fees:

Fees for 2022/23 entrants. This is a Band 2 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found on the Postgraduate tuition fees page



How is this course structured and taught?

Students take two core modules: 'Government and Politics of Africa', and 'International Politics of Africa' which enable them to develop a broad knowledge of Africa’s historical trajectory and its contemporary dynamics, and to understand how Africa has been approached by the main sub-disciplines of Politics: international relations, political economy, comparative politics and political thought. Weekly, two-hour interactive lectures on each module typically begin with faculty members delivering short lectures as a prelude to student-led discussion, both in the round and in smaller group sessions through which students explore weekly set readings more closely.

Students are then invited to select specialist modules that focus on smaller sets of countries (The Great Lakes, or Southern Africa for example), or on particular themes (Politics in African Cities, Gender and Security in Africa, or African Political Thought for example) that match their particular interests (these are listed under ‘List B’ on the ‘Structure’ tab on this course page). These modules grow closely from the cutting-edge research of faculty members. They are taught in weekly, two-hour small group seminars, and are designed to help students engage with the contemporary literature on these topics, develop specialist expertise, and identify dissertation topics that are provocative and researchable.

Dissertations involve writing a 10,000 word thesis on a topic of each student’s choice. All students work closely with a supervisor who can help guide their research. In addition, students follow a methodology course which builds confidence and skills to do research on African politics, and provides them with many useful skills for their careers. Many of our best student dissertations have been publishable in academic journals and have helped students to build up PhD proposals that secure admission and scholarships to the world’s top universities.

There is space in the degree structure for students to take modules outside of African Politics, selecting other options from the SOAS Politics Department, famous for its critical, non-Eurocentric approaches, or from courses in African History, Economics, Law and other disciplines from across the School (these are listed under ‘List C’ on the ‘Structure’ tab on this course page). Many of our students also choose to take an African language as one of their options, and SOAS offers an unrivalled selection of African languages which can be taken at any level, depending on prior knowledge.

Who will teach me?

Uniquely for a Politics Department in the UK,  SOAS boasts six full-time Africa specialists, including three professors, who research and teach on African Politics in all its dimensions and have specialist regional and country specific knowledge. There is a huge range of research going on amongst faculty and the post-doctoral and doctoral researchers they supervise. The teaching on our Masters degree derives directly from this innovative research and specialist knowledge. Find out more about who will teach you: Stephen Chan, Awino Okech, Phil Clark, Alastair Fraser, Julia Gallagher, Amelia Odida.

What skills will I learn?

The course encourages students to develop a critical approach to reading and a clarity in the way they argue and write about academic issues. It develops their conceptual thinking and the ability to evaluate, criticise and interpret different kinds of arguments and data and, from that, to develop plausible and persuasive arguments. Finally, it helps students to present and communicate their ideas in presentations, essays and longer dissertations.

What types of things do your students do next?

A degree that combines a disciplinary and a regional focus enables those graduating to evidence not just their analytic and writing skills, but rare and valued expertise. By the end of the degree students will be fully equipped to carry on to doctoral study about African Politics, or to work in journalism, diplomacy, think-tanks, commerce, development or human rights NGOs, or many other fields that require analytic skills, expert regional knowledge and the ability to communicate fluently about African Politics.

What's it like being in London?

SOAS hosts three of the most important institutions focused on African Studies in Europe: The Centre of African Studies, The Royal African Society and The International African Institute. These centres publish top academic journals, run vibrant blogs, film and fiction writing festivals. We’re also in the middle of London, home to one of the most vibrant and broad-ranging African diasporic communities in the world, Chatham House Africa Programme, The Africa Centre, and The Africa Research Institute. Most nights of the week there is a seminar, conference, musical or poetry performance, film or food festival themed on Africa that you could attend, or better still organise.  



Learn a language as part of this programme

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 taught modules to the value of 120 credits PLUS a 10,000 word dissertation (15PPOC999) worth 60 credits.
Credits must be taken in the following combination:

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Politics and International Studies 15PPOC999 60 Full Year
List A

Compulsory modules

Module Code Credits Term
Government and Politics of Africa 15PPOC257 30 Term 1
International Politics of Africa 15PPOH078 15 Term 2
Methodology in the Social Sciences 15PPOH060 15 Term 1
List B

A minimum of 30 credits from List B

Module Code Credits Term
Political Life in African Cities 15PPOH062 15 Term 2
Rule and Resistance in Contemporary Southern Africa 15PPOH069 15 Term 2
Gender and Security in Africa 15PGNH015 15 Term 2
List C

A maximum of 30 credits from List C (including language options)

Module Code Credits Term
The Politics of Global Security 15PPOH015 15 Term 2
Violence, Justice and the Politics of Memory 15PPOH019 15 Term 1
Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Social Research 15PPOH035 15 Term 2
Politics of Development in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia 15PPOH064 15 Term 2
African Philosophy (PG) 15PAFH008 15 Term 1
Language, Identity and Society in Africa (PG) 15PAFH033 15 Term 1
725 African and Asian Diasporas: Culture, Politics, Identities 15PANH085 15 Term 2
724 Migration, Borders and Space: Decolonial Approaches 15PANH086 15 Term 1
Modern and Contemporary Arts in Africa 15PARH048 15 Term 1
Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PGNH007 15 Term 2
Race, Segregation, and Apartheid in Twentieth-century South Africa (PG) 15PHIH003 15 Term 1
Law and Development in Africa 15PLAC160 30 Full Year
Colonialism, Empire and International Law 15PLAH025 15 Term 2
Intermediate Swahili 2A (PG) 15PAFC141 30 Full Year
Swahili 3 (PG) 15PAFC142 30 Full Year


Programme Specification

Important notice

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 and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Modules are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.

The MSc programme consists of three taught modules (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.


Most modules involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.


At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work taking place in two-hour sessions. Students make full-scale presentations for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.


A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.

SOAS Library

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.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Fees for 2022/23 entrants, per academic year (Band 2 tuition fee)

Full-time Part-time 2 years Part-time 3 years
£14,270 £23,800 £7,135 £11,900 £4,710 £7,855

Fees go up each year, therefore your tuition fee in your second and subsequent years of study will be higher.

Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the postgraduate tuition fees page.

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 15:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 15:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – East Asia

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Europe

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – India

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Pakistan

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – The Americas

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

SOAS Master's Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section



SOAS Politics and International Relations students leave SOAS not only with a knowledge and understanding of the complex political and cultural issues of our time, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers.

Recent graduates from the Department of Politics and International Studies have been hired by:

  • BBC World Service
  • Bloomberg
  • British Red Cross
  • British Council
  • Center for International Peace Operations
  • Channel 4
  • Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA)
  • Department for International Development (DfID)
  • Eversheds LLP
  • Financial Times
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • Global Policy Institute
  • Go East Consulting
  • Grassroot Diplomat
  • Palestine Red Crescent Association
  • Save the Children
  • UNICEF Ethiopia
  • United Nations

Find out about our Careers Service.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS picks up where other universities leave off. Others might give you knowledge that is predominantly western oriented. SOAS, on the other hand, gives you an understanding of non-western languages, cultures and countries which is increasingly important in a globalised world.

Ally Clifton


Find out more