MA Africa and Development

This programme combines development studies with an interdisciplinary focus on Africa.

It provides an advanced understanding of the African cultural, political and historical circumstances which have been formative in the constitution of development studies as a field, and which have shaped the impact of development interventions in the continent.

This programme is ideal for those who wish to pursue careers in international development, as well as students planning to pursue doctoral research on aspects of development in Africa.

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

Africa is one of the most important sites of international development interventions, and historically the site where much of the academic discipline of development studies was forged.

This programme draws on the expertise of the University’s Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA) and International Development Department (IDD) to provide an in-depth exploration of the relationship between development studies and Africa.

You will study two core modules:

  • Critical Approaches to Development 
  • Livelihoods and Development in Africa

You will also choose four optional modules from a wide range within DASA and IDD. All DASA modules are assessed by coursework; IDD modules vary, and the mix of coursework and written examinations will depend on the options selected. [See below for more detail on available modules]

You will complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation which combines interdisciplinary African studies with development studies.

Why study this course

  1. Taught by experts – the course is taught by world-leading specialists, all of who have lived, worked and research in Africa for long periods; all modules are informed by in-depth, first hand original research in Africa
  2. Links within industry – The department has strong links with African universities and attracts frequent African visiting researchers
  3. Friendly and relaxed atmosphere - You will be part of a Department that has a friendly community in which all staff are accessible to students to provide additional help on their work.
  4. Structure of programme - African Studies at Birmingham is wide-ranging, covering the whole continent and spanning humanities and social sciences disciplines.
  5. Lots of opportunities to get involved - staff and postgraduate students within the Department work together closely and discuss their research interests at regular meetings.There is also a regular programme of formal DASA seminars at which staff, postgraduate students and visiting scholars present papers and discuss their work-in-progress. In addition, DASA hosts occasional round-table inter-disciplinary research conferences, to which our postgraduate students are invited. There is a highly regarded series of in-house publications linked to these conferences, which often include work by DASA postgraduate students.


You will study two core modules:

Critical Approaches to Development 

Livelihoods and Development in Africa 

The module examines rural and urban livelihood systems and processes during the colonial and post-independence periods, and assesses both state and non-state interventions which aim to transform regional livelihoods. We will look at the long-term evolution of livelihood thinking; the contemporary utility of livelihood as concept and practice; the changing contexts, under the influence of processes like globalisation, modernity and environmental change, for pursuing regional livelihoods; and the structure and dynamics of livelihood systems, practices and outcomes, using selected case study examples. We will pay particular attention to processes of livelihood diversification and associated strategies of mobility and multilocality, including trans-nationality and the deployment of diasporan network connections. The module will involve individual/group research on the background to, and nature and impact of, specific development interventions aiming to promote secure and sustainable livelihoods.

 Optional modules available from the Department of African Studies and Anthropology include:

  • Advanced Perspectives on Africa
  • African Literature and Post-colonial Critical Theory
  • Contemporary Gender Issues in Africa
  • History and Politics of Southern Africa
  • Media and Popular Culture in Africa
  • Modern Ghana
  • Research Skills and Methods in African Studies
  • The Social Life of the Economy
  • Trajectories of Emancipation in Twentieth Century West Africa
  • West Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade

Modules available from the International Development Department include:

  • Aid Management
  • Conflict, Humanitarian Aid and Social Reconstruction
  • Conflict in Developing Countries
  • Development Management
  • Development Politics
  • Gender and Development
  • Governance and State Building in Developing Countries
  • Introduction to Development Projects
  • Introduction to Disaster Management
  • Non-Governmental Organisations in a Changing International Context
  • Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development
  • Poverty and Inequality: Interventions and Approaches
  • Religion and Development
  • Rural Poverty and Development
  • Social Analysis of Inequality, Poverty and Development
  • Transforming Development for Sustainability
  • Urban Poverty and Development
  • Detailed descriptions of International Development Department modules

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £7,650 full-time; £3,825 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

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

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

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. 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

You will need an Honours degree in humanities, social science or another relevant subject, normally of an upper second-class standard. Relevant equivalent study and/or experience will also be accepted.

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

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.

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

The Department of African Studies and Anthropology (incorporating Centre of West African Studies) is 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 DASA seminars at which staff, postgraduate students and visiting scholars present papers and discuss their work-in-progress.

As this programme is delivered jointly with the International Development Department, you will also benefit from additional expertise, support and extra-curricular events offered by the Department.

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.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

This programme will enable students interested in deepening their understanding of Africa to put their knowledge to work in international development, whether for government, NGOs, or media. 

Historically, over 91% of African Studies students have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.