African Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

The Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA) offers promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in a centre of excellence in the study of Africa.

Times Higher Education ranked the Department of African Studies and Anthropology second among all Area Studies departments in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

Doctoral Training Partnership studentships available

The University of Birmingham is part of the Midlands4Cities AHRC DTP and the Midlands Graduate School ESRC DTP, both of which are offering postgraduate research studentships to campus-based UK/EU applicants across each DTP's partner institutions. AHRC awards are available across arts, law and humanities disciplines, and ESRC awards are available for a range of social science disciplines including Applied Linguistics, Area Studies (African Studies), Economic and Social History, and Socio-Legal Studies.

Find out more

Nimrita Rana

Nimrita Rana

PhD African Studies

“The postgraduate community in our Department is really lovely because it's very close-knit. That's one of the advantages of studying here, because you get to bounce ideas off other people who are passionate about their research.”

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a thesis of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision. The PhD, the most advanced research degree, leads to a thesis of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice. Again under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff.

We give all possible support to our researchers, developing the resources available at the University and encouraging an active postgraduate environment for the exchange of information and ideas.

Distance learning

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Why study this course

  • World-leading research: Times Higher Education ranked the Department of African Studies and Anthropology second among all Area Studies departments in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise: 44% of research at the University of Birmingham for Area Studies was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’. A further 49% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’. 
  • Fantastic research environment: with weekly departmental seminars (the AFRICA Talks) bringing leading researchers in African Studies to present their work at DASA; frequent international conferences on cutting-edge research topics hosted in our campus; and close collaboration with African universities and scholars. Graduate students play a vital role in these activities, becoming integrated in international research networks.  You can follow DASA events and research highlights on the Africa Hub Facebook page.
  • Excellent links within industry – the Department has strong links with African universities and attracts frequent African visiting researchers.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,320 full-time; £2,160 part-time*
  • International: £17,040 full-time; £8,520 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

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.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2019.

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 2019-20 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 2019-20 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

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

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

Application deadlines

We would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application. 

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom and wish to start their studies in September 2018.

Applications remain open for UK/EU students but start dates should be agreed with your supervisor.

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas, which includes detailed advice on research proposals and how to write them.

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.

Please note: Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by the end of June.

Additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

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 an interdisciplinary department with an established international reputation for research on Africa and its diaspora. 

We are able to provide expert supervision on a variety of topics including environmental knowledge and practice, oral and print culture, histories of local and national identities, labour history and anthropology, research on marginality, exclusion and slavery, migrations and mobility, gender, kinship and marriage in society and policy, education and its legacies, religious difference in everyday life, and African links with the Islamic world.

Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest in the first instance by browsing the staff profiles of academic colleagues in the department.

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 five 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.