MA Social Research (African Studies)

This is a research programme that focuses on contemporary Africa.

It provides you with an understanding of major social, cultural, political and economic developments and provides you with the research training necessary to undertake a social-science based study of contemporary Africa which will enhance your ability to prepare and present to an audience on material you have researched. The programme is also recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing the requisite research training for a PhD.

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.

 
Dr Benedetta Rossi

Dr Benedetta Rossi

“The MA Social Research (African Studies) offers thorough training in multi-disciplinary research skills and methods that is highly transferable. It provides an excellent grounding in different methodologies for the collection and analysis of research evidence while introducing students to region-specific knowledge about African societies. It constitutes sound preparation for further doctoral-level research or for a broad range of other career choices.”

You will study five core modules:

  • Philosophy of Social Science Research
  • Research Design, Practice and Ethics
  • Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods
  • Foundations in Qualitative Research
  • Research Skills and Methods in African Studies

You will then choose one optional module from a range within African Studies and Anthropology.

Module descriptions are available below.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by written assignment and/or presentation. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one expert supervision. 

Why study this course

  • Taught by experts - the course is taught by specialists with extensive experience in their fields.
  • Links within industry - the Department has strong links with African universities and attracts frequent African visiting researchers.
  • 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.
  • Structure of programme - African Studies at Birmingham is wide-ranging, covering the whole continent and spanning humanities and social sciences disciplines.
  • 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 five core modules:

Philosophy of Social Science Research

The module considers fundamental philosophical debates about what counts as ‘knowledge’ across the social sciences. Teaching addresses (natural) science as a method of obtaining knowledge and the interpretative tradition in the social sciences. 

Research Design, Practice and Ethics

This module introduces you to social science research designs and ethical issues in research practice. Learning supports you to be able to make strategic choices when developing your own projects, and to assess the design and research ethics decision making in others’ published research work.

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Method

Concepts, methods and skills central to quantitative research, including data collection approaches and concept operationalisation, are core throughout this module. Building on a grounding in ideas relating to probability sampling, sampling error and statistical inference, coverage of techniques extends from comparisons of means and simple cross-tabular analyses to a discussion of multivariate analysis approaches, focusing on linear and logistic regression.

Foundations in Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is examined across a range of topics, from different approaches and methods including ethnographic and observational research, discourse and conversation analysis, documentary and archival analysis, participatory research and the use of interviews. Ethics in qualitative research is specifically considered, as is the evaluation of qualitative research.

Research Skills and Methods in African Studies

The 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 analyaing findings; and writing up. You will have the opportunity to present work in progress at different stages of your project, gaining feedback and advice from staff and fellow students.  Through the talks by invited speakers on research in progress, the module also offers a broader perspective on research and raises questions about interdisciplinary approaches to it. 

You will also choose 20 credits of optional modules. Options available within African Studies 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
  • Slavery and Freedom in Twentieth Century Africa

For further information on these options, please see our African Studies 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:

  • UK/EU: £9,000 full-time
  • International: £17,010 full-time

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

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

International students requiring visas

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry by 21 September 2018.

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 the Centre for 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.

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.