Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2017. We aim to publish any changes to compulsory modules and programme structure for 2018 entry by 1 September 2017 and recommend you refer back to this page shortly after that date for any changes. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.
All first-year students take our Focus on Studying Societies module, which involves working with a tutor in a group and trying out all the basic steps in researching, planning and writing a university-level essay. After receiving detailed one-to-one feedback on this assignment, you will then choose your own topic, practising the same skills in researching and planning, and working as a group to prepare a presentation, developing your teamwork and oral communication skills.
You’ll also have a series of options which allow you to explore aspects of African History, Politics, Culture, Geography, Society and Development, giving you an awareness of the diversity of the continent.
- Focus on Studying Societies
- African Societies
- Doing Development
- Introduction to African Culture
- Introduction to African History
- Introduction to the Anthropology of Africa
- Introduction to African Politics
- Introduction to Geography and Africa
- Thinking Anthropologically
Most modules in year two encompass a mix of lectures, seminars or group work, and independent reading. We prefer project work and assessed essays to timed exams because we believe these forms of assessment develop the skills students need in employment or further study.
In this year, you will take the compulsory Perspectives on Africa module (20 credits) ; a student-led seminar course that takes on issues of immediate contemporary concern in Africa, focusing on the way they’re debated in Africa itself and situating these debates in their global context.
Options (second and third year)
- Aid, NGOs and Development
- The African Canon
- African New Writing
- African Popular Culture
- African Religion and Ritual
- Atlantic Slavery: West Africa and the Caribbean
- Caribbean Poetry
- Gender and Development in Africa
- Ghana: State and Society
- Independent Study
- 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
Detailed descriptions of second and third year modules
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 four African Studies optional modules of 20 credits each.
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 programmes. 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.
- 80 credits of Department of African Studies and Anthropology modules