SOAS University of London

Academic Summer School at SOAS

Understanding Africa

Summer School

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • How to Apply


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Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Mode of Attendance: Full-time


Session 2: 2 July - 20 July 2018

Supported by the Centre for African Studies

Programme Description 

This course provides participants with an overall understanding of the history, politics and culture of Africa. With a diverse range of sessions, from History and Politics to Languages and Music, the course gives an in-depth knowledge of the main academic areas of study within Africa. The course comprises a combination of lectures and interactive workshops, as well as museum visits and social events.

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Understanding Africa Summer School

This is a great opportunity given the prominence that Africa as a continent has gained over the past few years and the vision of Africa Rising, a continent with many job and investment opportunities. Also, within the Arts, we have seen an incredible rise of the presence of African artists in the international art circles which has been extremely stimulating and refreshing for an understanding of arts and cultures.

Tutor information

The convenor of this course is Dr Seraphin Kamdem, a Senior Teaching Fellow here at SOAS with expertise on Africa; but there is a larger team of colleagues also teaching on the course: Dr Marie Rodet, an expert on the history of Africa will be teaching the session on pre-colonial Africa and its Kingdoms; Paul Asquith, who has expertise on African Diaspora and development in Africa will be giving one of the lectures; Dr Polly Savage, an expert on contemporary African art, will also be teaching on the course; Dr Jörg Haustein, an expert on religion, and Senior Lecturer here at SOAS, will be giving one of the lectures; Angelica Baschiera who has expertise on Swahili literature and manuscripts, will also be part of our teaching staff; and Rob Shispter, an expert and seasoned practitioner of African music, will teach the sessions on Music in Africa, with a lecture and an African music workshop.

Tuition Fees

A tuition fee of £1600 will be charged per 3-week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.


20% discount for our partner institutions
50% discount for current SOAS students 


Accommodation is available to Summer School students at the SOAS halls of residence, Dinwiddy House. For more details of how to book a room please visit the Dinwiddy House accommodation page.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Social Programme

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and an optional river cruise on the Thames for a small additional charge. Details about how to book will be communicated to you once you are registered. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends.


For more information, fill out our enquiries form


Contact hours: 46 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Core hours: Monday - Thursday 10am-3pm, and 2 hours on one specified Friday over the 3 weeks.  In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course will offer a range of activities relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc). 

Optional activities: The Summer School office will arrange various social activites throughout the 3 weeks. On spcified Fridays there will be a range of optional activities for students to get involved with, providing a taste of SOAS life on campus and nearby places of interest. 

Week 1: History of Africa

  • Pre-colonial Africa and its Kingdoms
  • The Colonial period
  • The Independences and Postcolonial Africa

Week 2: Politics and Society

  • Overview of main Pan-African political institutions
  • Governance and Development in Africa
  • Africa in the World: International relations
  • Religion in Africa

Week 3: Languages and Culture

  • African languages and cultures (with an African language taster session)
  • Film and Contemporary Art in Africa
  • Music in Africa (with an African music tutorial on Kora/Drums)

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.


During this course, students will be able to enjoy visits to the Sainsbury Africa collection at the British Museum, guided by Chris Spring (Curator of Africa collection, BM), and to the October Gallery, renowned art gallery for contemporary African art. 


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Course Aims
  • To provide a broad coverage and an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Africa
  • To provide students with the key information and debates connected to the historical, political, economic and cultural evolution of Africa
On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:
  • Have an overall understanding of the diversity of African cultures and societies
  • Ability to select and develop deeper understanding of specific area of interest
  • Apply theoretical knowledge to a range of specific topics and thematic areas related to the African continent
  • Find new work and study paths
Reading/resource list
  • Badejo, D., 2007. The African Union. New York: Chelsea House.
  • Cooper, F., 2007. Africa Since 1940. The Past of the Present. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Cornelissen, S., Cheru, F. and Shaw, T., eds. 2011. Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century, Oxford: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Davidson, B. 1989. Modern Africa: A social and political history (2nd ed.). London: Longman.
  • Fardon, R. and Furniss, G. eds. 1994. African Languages, Development and the State. London: Routledge
  • Murithi, T., 2013. Handbook of Africa's international relations. New York: Routledge.
  • Nugent, P., 2004. Africa since independence: a comparative history. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Thomson, A., 2004. An Introduction to African Politics (2nd ed.), London: Routledge.
  • Reid, R., 2012. History of Modern Africa, 1800 to the Present. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Webb, Vic and Kembo-Sure, eds. 2000. African Voices.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Web resources


How to Apply

Applications Now Open! Click to apply

Entry Requirements

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • A university student or a graduate at the time of attending the summer school, and 18+ years of age.
    Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all sub scores.
    • TOEFL Paper based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with minimum 20 in all skills. 
    • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B
    • If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses) you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university.
    • Applicants with an alternative qualification should contact us for advice.
    • Applicants whose English language level do not meet out requirements may be interested in our subject based courses with English language support.

Enrolment of Summer School applicants who don’t meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us in detail about your application

Application Procedure

Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Application Deadline

15 June 2018

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