MA/Diploma African Studies

The MA African Studies is a multidisciplinary programme focusing on contemporary Africa.

It provides you with an understanding of major social, cultural, political and economic developments in Africa and the Diaspora. It also enables you to develop your critical and analytical powers in relation to current events in Africa, as well as your ability to approach contemporary African issues from interdisciplinary standpoints.

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

Dr Benedetta Rossi

Dr Benedetta Rossi

“The MA African Studies is one of the most exciting programmes open to anyone wishing to delve into Africa-focused research. It does not only offer a range of original, research-led modules, but students are also encouraged to participate actively in the AFRICA Talks, the Graduate Fora, the annual Cadbury fellowships and conferences and explore African societies, past and present, from multiple disciplinary perspectives. ”

The programme provides you with the research training necessary to undertake a broad-based, multidisciplinary study of contemporary Africa.

It enhances your ability to prepare and present to an audience material you have researched.

To achieve Diploma level, you will need to complete six taught modules. MA students will need to complete six taught modules plus a 15,000-word dissertation.

You will study two core modules:

  • Research Skills and Methods in African Studies
  • Advanced Perspectives on Africa

You will also choose four optional modules. 

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:

Research Skills and Methods in African Studies

This module is a practical hands-on introduction to research methods which takes you through the process of defining a research topic; identifying and accessing sources, including archival and electronic sources; compiling a bibliography; producing an overview of existing work on the topic; designing a project; establishing a timetable; gaining research permission; the ethics of research; planning and executing fieldwork; using interviews and surveys; using photography, sound and video recording; keeping field notes; archival research; assessing and analyzing findings; and writing up

Advanced Perspectives on Africa

This module deals with areas of concern and debate in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. It is hinged around the concept of the 'postcolony' (and the literature concerning it) and its relationship to evolving political cultures and ideas about and/or exemplary instances of articulations in the public sphere. You will be asked to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to your guided and independent reading, then to identify and develop case studies of especial interest to you and to research these in the relevant literatures. The module will make featured use of research in and resources drawn from the Internet so as to explore areas of concern and debate in the immediately contemporary context of 'breaking news.'

You will also choose four optional modules from a range which may include:  

  • African Fiction and its Critics
  • Caribbean Fiction
  • Caribbean Poetry
  • Contemporary Gender Issues in Africa
  • History and Politics of Southern Africa
  • Independent Study Module
  • Livelihoods and Development in Africa (new)
  • Media and Popular Culture in Africa
  • Modern Ghana (new)
  • Reading African Poetry
  • The Social Life of the Economy (new)
  • Trajectories of Emancipation in West Africa (new)

One of your optional modules can also be taken from outside of African Studies, from within Arts or Social Sciences.

Related staff

Fees and funding

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


  • Home/EU: £6,570 full-time; £3,285 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time


  • Home/EU: £4,380 full-time; £2,190 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

For part-time students studying an MA or Diploma, 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

MA programmes normally require an upper second-class Honours degree or equivalent with some background in the disciplines to be studied. Applicants with a background in other disciplines, or with less traditional qualifications, may be accepted for the Diploma in African Studies.

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  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.

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.

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. 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.