SOAS University of London

Academic Summer School at SOAS

Understanding Africa (2020 entry)

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Apply


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, Pan-Africanism and Politics to Languages, Migration, and Music, the course gives an in-depth knowledge of the main academic areas of study regarding Africa. The course comprises a combination of lectures and interactive workshops, as well as museum visits and social events.

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.

During this course, students will be able to enjoy a guided visit to the Sainsbury Africa collection at the British Museum, and to the October Gallery, a renowned art gallery for contemporary African art. Students will also enjoy a guided visit to the famous Swahili Manuscripts Archive in the SOAS Library.   

Supported by the Centre of African Studies

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Understanding Africa Summer School

Learning Outcomes

  • 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 

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 well-established Africanist scholars  also teaching on the course this year: Prof. Fareda Banda, a world expert on Law and Human rights will be teaching on the course this year; 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 migration and African Diaspora and development in Africa will be delivering some of the teaching sessions; David Malik, a researcher on contemporary African arts and designs, will also be teaching on the course; Dr Mark Faulkner, an expert on religion, 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 Dr Angela Impey, an expert on African music, will teach the sessions on Music in Africa, with a lecture and an African music workshop.


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.

15 SOAS Credits

This course is worth 15 credits in the UK system. 15 credits is equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.

SOAS Students

Current SOAS students selecting this course as an open option module will not be charged the tuition-fee. For further information and assistance, please contact


For more information please complete our enquiries form

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: 29 June – 17 July 2020

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

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.

Featured events

3 weeks

Tuition Fees 2020

  • Credit assessed: £1,750
  • Non-assessed: £1,600



Programme structure:

Week 1: History of Africa

  • Pre-colonial Africa and its Kingdoms
  • The Colonial period
  • The Independences and Postcolonial Africa
  • Africa in the World: International Trade and relations

Week 2: Politics and Society

  • Overview of main Pan-African political institutions
  • Governance and Development in Africa
  • Religion in Africa
  • Contemporary Art in Africa

Week 3: Languages and Culture

  • African languages and cultures (with an African country case study)
  • Migration and African Diaspora
  • Music in Africa (with an African music workshop)

Visits: 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. 

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

Contact hours:

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

Core hours:

Monday - Friday, 10am-3pm. 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).

Sample Reading 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

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

  • Credit-assessed: £1,750
  • Non-assessed: £1,600

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.


10% early-bird discount when you apply by 31 March

15% discount for SOAS Alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)

20% discount for our partner institutions


Information regarding accommodation will be released soon.

Academic Summer School Ambassador Scholarship 2020

The SOAS Academic Summer School is delighted to offer four tuition-fee waiver scholarships to passionate students with a desire to make a difference in the world.

The scholarships will cover the tuition-fee for one Academic Summer School course in 2020. 

Application Deadline: 2020-03-02 00:00

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


How to Apply

Application Form

Entry Requirements

In order to join the Academic Summer School, students should meet the following entry requirements:

  • A university student or a graduate at the time of attending. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
  • Participants must be 18 or over at the time of attendance.
  • Fluency in English language is recommended for non-credit courses, but essential for SOAS Accredited courses. Proficiency can be demonstrated through:
  • 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. 
  • If you are unsure whether you meet the above entry requirements, please contact us to discuss your application.

Enrolment of applicants who do not meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us about your application and we will be happy to help. 

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

Applications now accepted on a rolling basis for all courses

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