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 latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

 
Dr Reginald Cline-Cole

Dr Reginald Cline-Cole

“This programme offers an excellent opportunity for students who want to both master the tools of development thinking and how best to apply them in developing a nuanced and informed understanding of the complex and dynamic realities of Africa and its diasporas, both contemporary and historical. It offers an impressive range of disciplinary specialisations and diversity of modules, as well as a variety of academic-related activities designed to enhance the student learning experience.”

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. More information on available modules is available below. 

Assessment

Your core modules are assessed by written assignment, while optional modules vary depending on choice of module. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation which combines interdisciplinary African studies with development studies.

Why study this course

  • Breadth of programme - You have access to an extensive range of topics within African Studies and International Development, allowing you to explore a variety of topics and tailor the programme to your specific areas of interest.
  • Taught by experts – the course is taught by specialists with extensive experience in their fields.
  • Links within industry – The Department of African Studies and Anthropology has strong links with African universities and attracts frequent African visiting researchers.
  • Friendly and relaxed atmosphere - You will be part of a friendly community in which all staff are accessible to students to provide additional help on their work.
  • 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.

Modules

You will study two core modules:

Critical Approaches to Development (IDD)

Why is theory important for understanding development policy and practice? How can theory and approaches inform policy and practice and what can be learnt from a more theoretically-informed approach? These questions reflect the emphasis in this module in providing students with a broad introduction to different approaches to development. You will critically examine development theories and how they have been, and are, applied to contemporary development issues. The module is designed to give you a solid introduction to the key aspects of the topic that will serve as the analytical basis for much of the rest of your studies. A number of the issues are dealt with in more detail in other modules. After an introductory session, you will explore theories of development in historical context from (roughly) 1945 up to the present. The theories are then applied to contemporary development approaches and issues. Throughout, the emphasis is on you developing a critical understanding of the evolution of development theories over the last half century and its implications for present day thinking about development.  
Assessment: Written assignment

Livelihoods and Development in Africa (DASA)

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

You will also choose four optional modules from a wide range within DASA and IDD. 

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

  • Advanced Perspectives on Africa
  • African Fiction and its Critics
  • History and Politics of Southern Africa
  • Independent Study
  • Livelihoods and Development in Africa
  • Media and Popular Culture in Africa
  • Research Skills and Methods in African Studies
  • Slavery and Freedom in Twentieth Century Africa

Subject to availability, you can also select one option from a list of selected modules in other disciplines, such as:

  • Before Postcolonialism: Europe and its Empires (Modern Languages)
  • Postcolonial Theory (Modern Languages)
  • Gender and Global Governance (Politics)
  • World Literatures and Film I and II (Modern Languages)

For more information, see our African Studies and Anthropology module descriptions

Modules available from the International Development Department may include:

  • Aid Politics and Policy
  • Conflict in Developing Countries
  • Critical Approaches to Development
  • Development Management
  • Development Politics
  • Disability and Development
  • Gender and Development
  • Governance and State Building in Developing Countries
  • Human Resources / Managing People in Times of Global Changes
  • Introduction to Development Projects
  • Introduction to Disaster Management
  • Making Policy
  • Managing Public Money
  • Non-Governmental Organisations in a Changing International Context
  • Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development
  • Poverty and Inequality: Interventions and Approaches
  • Public Economic Management
  • Public Management and Leadership
  • Public Sector Reform and Development
  • Rural Poverty and Development
  • Social Analysis of Inequality, Poverty and Development
  • Transforming Development for Sustainability
  • Urban Poverty and Development

For more information, see our International Development Department module descriptions


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,000 full-time
  • Overseas: £17,010 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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.

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: African Studies

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, including lecturing and paid research. Over the past three years, 100% 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

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

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.