SOAS University of London

Online Academic Summer School

Understanding Africa (Online) (2020 entry)

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  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
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Understanding Africa, Academic Summer School, Seraphin Kamdem

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.

Supported by the Centre of African Studies

For more information, please see the course handbook:  Understanding Africa online handbook (pdf; 86kb)    

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 

Special scholarships for Understanding Africa

CAS at SOAS is offering three bursaries of £500 to help cover the cost of tuition for the Understanding Africa Summer School.  

To be eligible, you must apply and hold a conditional or unconditional offer for a place on the Understanding Africa course. 

To apply for the CAS bursary, please send a statement explaining why you have chosen the Understanding Africa Summer School and what you hope to gain from the experience, to . (Please make sure to also copy the statement to

The deadline for these scholarships is 29th May.


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.

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

"Dr Kamdem went above and beyond for his students. The course was designed in a creative and engaging way, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone felt comfortable asking questions in the class. We went on 4 field trips, listened to music, watched documentaries, and learned to play a Senegalese instrument. I had a great time!" - Thajilah (Understanding Africa, 2019)


For more information please complete our enquiries form

Start of programme: 29 June - 10 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

2 weeks

Tuition Fees 2021



Programme schedule

A full programme schedule and updated handbook are being developed and will be available soon.

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

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

The programme is delivered online through a Virtual Learning Environment (intranet page) that sets out the readings for each week, the guiding questions for discussion and hosts the discussion boards. This page provides a platform to share other material such as videos, internet links, quizzes and feedback on assignments. Students also have access to a vast amount of academic and policy-related material through the SOAS library.

Time Commitment

Courses are taught intensively over two weeks between Monday - Friday.  Students should expect to spend between 4-6 hours per day completing course related activities including video lectures, live tutorials, readings, forum discussion and assignments.  Students studying for credit will submit a 2000-2500 word written assignment one week after the course finishes.


Each course is assessed by two online assessments (‘e-tivities’*) comprising of 30%, the remaining 70% is formed of a 2,500 word essay.  The e-tivities provide formative and summative feedback to students as a means of monitoring their progress and encouraging areas in which they can improve. E-tivities will vary in format but will include article reviews, quizzes, blog posts, essay plans and more. On successful completion of the assessments, students will receive a transcript confirming the credit awarded. Students that do not require credit are strongly encouraged to take part in the e-tivities, but are not required to complete the assessments.

* An 'e-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format that states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' (Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.)


Students will require regular access to a computer with a good internet connection, and the following applications installed:

  • A word processor that accepts Microsoft Word formats (.doc and .docx)
  • A PDF reader
Navigating Time Zones

Courses have been designed with varying time zones in mind.  All lectures will be recorded for access at any time and the discussion forum is open to posts from students at all times.  The limited 'live' sessions will be scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00 BST and will be recorded for any students unable to attend.


Students that successfully complete all course assessments will be awarded 15 SOAS credits.  This is normally equivalent to 7.5 ECTS or 4 US credits.  If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply.


Fees and funding

Tuition 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.


Save £200 when if apply by 30th April 

10% discount if you apply for two courses over 4 weeks

20% discount for SOAS Alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)

20% discount for our partner institutions

Other discounts are available for groups. Please contact us for more information.

Academic Summer School Ambassador Scholarship 2021

The Ambassador Scholarship programme 2021 offers 3 full tuition fee waiver scholarships for highly morivated and academically driven students. Take a look at our Ambassador Scholarship page for more information on how to apply.

Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00

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


How to Apply

Apply now to secure your place.

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 course within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Application Deadline

We are accepting applications on a rolling basis. Apply now to secure your place.

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