MRes African Studies

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This programme aims to develop your critical and analytical skills in relation to current ideas in African politics, history and anthropology or African and Caribbean literature. It provides you with the opportunity to identify, investigate in depth, and write up a research topic of your own, including the use of archival, oral media and internet sources.

African Studies and Anthropology has been ranked second among all Area Studies departments in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Combined research and taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time

Start date: September


The programme offers a number of alternative pathways allowing you to focus on a particular area within the subject.

You take three taught modules and write a dissertation of 20,000 words in the final term on a topic of your choice relevant to the focus of the pathway chosen. 

Within all pathways of the African Studies MRes you will study the Research Skills and Methods in African Studies module. Each pathway then offers a selection of optional modules from which you choose to study two:


  • African and Caribbean Literature
    This pathway offers you the opportunity to study options in both African and Caribbean literatures and to work on an extended study within a comparative framework.
    Optional modules: Caribbean Poetry, Caribbean Fiction, Media and Popular Culture in Africa, African Fiction and its Critics.
  • African Literature and Post-colonial Critical Theory
    This pathway examines the development of African literature in English in the 20th century in the context of a survey of the ways in which that literature has been read over time, paying particular attention to responses to those critical theories by African writers themselves.
    Optional modules: Media and Popular Culture in Africa, African Fiction and its Critics, Reading African Poetry.
  • Gender Issues in Africa
    This pathway examines gender relations in African states and societies, particularly in the light of different strands of theoretical feminist work. Through examination of specific examples, it looks at the significance of gender as an axis for analysis in policy areas in African contexts.
    Optional modules: Advanced Perspectives in Africa, Contemporary Gender Issues in Africa.
  • History and Politics of Southern Africa 
    This pathway examines contemporary Southern African societies and politics in their 19th- and 20th-century historical contexts. The emphasis is on the emergence of modern South Africa's system of racial domination and its effects on government and economic development in the broader Southern African region.
    Optional modules: Advanced Perspectives on Africa, History and Politics in Southern Africa.
  • Media and Popular Culture in Africa 
    This pathway aims to provide you with the research skills necessary to undertake an interdisciplinary study of contemporary African culture, with a particular emphasis on media, performance and popular culture.
    Optional modules: Media and Popular Culture in Africa, Advanced Perspectives on Africa.
  • Atlantic Slavery 
    This pathway provides a thorough overview of some of the major themes involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
    Optional modules: West Africa and the Caribbean at the Height of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1700-1860; Advanced Perspectives in Africa.
  • Livelihoods and development in Africa
    This pathway explores rural and urban livelihood systems in Africa and assesses development interventions which aim to transform them.
    Optional modules: Livelihoods and development in Africa; Advanced Perspectives in Africa.
  • Modern Ghana
    Students will engage with some of the most important questions in the field of African  Studies, and find out how these questions might be answered in relation to a specific  country, Ghana. Optional modules: Modern GhanaAdvanced Perspectives in Africa.
  • The social life of the economy
    This pathway asks fundamental questions about how humans produce, exchange, distribute and consume resources. It explore the topics of money, commodities and gifts, and the  meanings of work in Africa and beyond. 
    Optional modules: The social life of the economy; Advanced Perspectives in Africa.
  • Trajectories of emancipation
    This pathway offers an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of slavery and emancipation  in West Africa, with comparative examples drawn from all African regions.
    Optional modules: Trajectories of emancipation in West Africa; West Africa and the Caribbean at the Height of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1700-1860; Advanced Perspectives in Africa.
  • Yoruba culture
    This pathway explores the oral and written literature, theatre, music and everyday life of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria , past and present.
    Optional modules: Yoruba culture; Advanced Perspectives in Africa.  
  • Independent Study 
    This pathway allows students whose particular interests do not fall within any of the above pathways to develop a specialism in a chosen topic through guided reading, writing and discussion, subject to availability of supervision. 
    Optional modules: Independent study; Advanced Perspectives in Africa.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £4,052 full-time; £2,026 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time; £6,597.50 part-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Learn more about postgraduate tuituion fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

We are a friendly, well integrated community. Staff and postgraduate students work together closely and discuss their research interests at regular meetings. There is also a regular programme of formal Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA) seminars at which staff, postgraduate students and visiting scholars present papers and discuss their work-in-progress.

More personally, you will be assigned a personal tutor with whom you will meet to discuss your progress and seek help and advice when necessary. It is a University requirement that tutors meet with their tutees at least once a term, but you don't need to wait for a formal appointment: you are encouraged to contact your tutor whenever you need help or advice.

You will also have an academic supervisor once you are working on your dissertation and will have access to the expertise of other members of staff. As a graduate student at DASA you can expect to enjoy intensive, frequent and close interaction with your supervisor on a one-to-one basis as well as detailed, continuous supervision of written work.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Our African Studies graduates develop a range of skills, including oral and written communication, analysis and evaluation, problem solving, independent working and research skills, which can be used in a variety of occupations. A snapshot of graduate destinations over a five-year period has identified a variety of career paths, from architecture, to lecturing, to paid research. Over the past five years, over 94% of our History postgraduates have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation.