This programme offers you a detailed insight into the varied views of Africa in a globalising world, and the varying assessments of the continent’s development prospects into the 21st century. The programme aims to promote a robust understanding of a vast and often misrepresented continent, and the ways in which societal change can be influenced.
African Studies and Anthropology has been ranked second among all Area Studies departments in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. The department offers a distinctive inter-disciplinary learning experience taught by staff from a wide range of academic fields: Anthropology, History, Geography, Politics and Literature, among others.
The Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts is housed in the department and celebrates the extensive cultural traditions and artistic expression of countries in West Africa. The collection ranges from domestic and ceremonial utensils to contemporary fine art, with particular strength in Yoruba and Hausa objects and is considered one of the finest collections of its kind in Europe. It is an active teaching resource in the University, comprising over 1000 objects, including woodcarving, metalwork, pottery, textiles, painting and domestic and votive objects.
Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.
For African Studies with Development students, the first year provides foundation courses in the sociology, history, development, politics and cultures of Africa. Focus on Studying Societies (20 credits) is concerned with core study skills, taking you through all the steps of researching, planning and editing an essay, and enabling you to pursue a group investigation and present your findings orally. You will receive detailed one-to-one feedback on your assignments, and this should help you with your other modules. Doing Development (20 credits) introduces you to the history, theory and methods of development. Your understanding of what 'development' might mean and how it might be undertaken in the African context will be built up through your remaining core modules, which introduce you to the politics, environments and societies of Africa. In addition to your 60 credits of compulsory modules, you take either 60 credits of optional modules in African Studies, or 40 credits of African Studies modules plus a 20 credit Module Outside the Main Discipline.
- Doing Development
- Focus on Studying Societies
- Introduction to African Politics
- Introduction to African Societies
- Introduction to Geography and Africa
- Introduction to African Culture
- Introduction to African History
- Introduction to African Politics
- Thinking Anthropology
- Module Outside the Main Discipline
In your second year, you will study the theory and practice of development, considering real life examples of development projects and agencies in Africa and beyond. In addition to Aid, NGO's and Development (20 credits), you will also take Perspectives on Africa (20 credits), which is concerned with issues of immediate importance in contemporary African societies, and which develops your skills in researching, planning and presenting your own projects. You can then choose either 80 credits of African Studies optional modules, or 60 credits of African Studies modules plus a 20 credit Module Outside the Main Discipline.
- Aid, NGO's and development
- Perspectives on Africa
Options (second and third year, NB not all are offered every year)
- The African cannon
- African popular culture
- African new writing
- African religion and ritual
- Atlantic slavery: West Africa and the Caribbean
- Caribbean poetry
- Ghana: state and society
- Independent study
- Gender and development in Africa
- Rural livelihoods and development interventions in West Africa
- Social life of the economy
- South Africa in the 19th century
- South Africa in the 20th century
- South Africa since apartheid: politics and culture
- Theory, ethnography and research
- Trajectories of emancipation
The option to study for a semester abroad
You will have the option to study abroad in the either the first or second semester of your second year, so you will still be able to complete your degree in three years. Credits are gained in your subject area at the institution you choose. There is a wide variety of universities to choose from which are approved by the University of Birmingham's International Office with the Study Abroad and Exchanges Scheme.
In your final year, you can choose your taught modules from a list available within the department. Students will be taught in a combination of lectures and seminars and will be able to develop more specialised knowledge and analytical skills, often drawing on the first-hand research experience of their tutors.
Final year students take one 40 credit dissertation, plus 4 modules of 20 credits each from the list above, of which one may be a Module Outside the Main Discipline. The number of taught modules is slightly fewer in the final year because of the emphasis that we place on the Dissertation. This is the culmination of the enquiry-based learning that students have been working towards throughout their degree programme. With the guidance of an academic supervisor in a series of one-to-one meetings, you will have the opportunity to identify a topic that is of particular interest to you, formulate relevant and interesting questions, search for and evaluate different sources of information, and present your findings and conclusions in a 10,000 word dissertation. In order to support you through this potentially daunting task, we arrange a series of workshops in which students present their work-in-progress, and receive useful feedback from members of the academic staff and their fellow students. Your supervisor will also read and comment on your drafts in order to help you produce a well-organised and well-presented piece of work. Successful completion of a dissertation enables students to demonstrate a wide range of skills that are transferable to employment and to further study.
- Four optional modules offered within the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, of which one could be a Module Outside the Main Discipline (as listed above in second year)
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: BBB
General Studies: accepted
International baccalaureate update
Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.
Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.
We expect applicants to have an interest in Africa rather than a detailed knowledge of the continent.
We welcome applications from mature and Access students.
We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
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