MA Social Research (African Studies)

Start date
September
Duration
One year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee.
Fees for 2020/21:
UK/ EU: £9,250 full-time
International: £19,170 full-time
More detail.

With a focus on contemporary Africa, this programme provides research training that will prepare you to undertake research in African Studies.

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 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.

The programme is also recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing the requisite research training for a PhD.

I learnt a great deal from my modules on research methods while the seminars offered a suitable platform to meet scholars working on a variety of topics with different research approaches. Above all, the quality of supervision has been phenomenal, providing me with unwavering commitment and guidance which has helped refine my research ideas.

Ernest

Why Study this Course?

  • Foundation for further research – the programme will equip you with the research skills to read and assess relevant primary sources, the ability to carry out independent research and to write up your research. It is also recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing the requisite research training for a PhD. 
  • Research strength – 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.
  • Taught by experts – the course is taught by specialists with extensive experience in their fields.
  • Extensive expertise – African Studies at Birmingham is wide-ranging, covering the whole continent and spanning humanities and social sciences disciplines.
  • Be part of an exciting department – you will join a friendly department which offers a range of opportunities to interact with other staff and students, including research meetings, DASA seminars and occasional round-table inter-disciplinary research conferences.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.


Modules

 You will study six taught modules and complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Core modules

You will study five 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 analysing 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.

Assessment: Presentation and written assignments

Philosophy of Social Science Research

The module considers fundamental philosophical debates about what counts as ‘knowledge’ across the social sciences and applies those discussions to your own disciplines and fields of study. Teaching addresses (natural) science as a method of obtaining knowledge and the interpretative tradition in the social sciences. 
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.

Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

You will study a core module in African Studies: Research Skills and Methods in African Studies

Optional Modules

You will choose one optional module within African Studies from a range which may include: 

  • Advanced Perspectives on Africa
  • African Fiction and its Critics
  • Contemporary Gender Issues in Africa
  • Independent Study
  • Letting them Speak: Ethnographies of Marginalisation
  • Livelihoods and Development in Africa
  • Slavery and Freedom in Twentieth Century Africa 

For further information on these options, please see our African Studies module descriptions.

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21:

  • UK/EU: £9,250 full-time
  • International: £19,170 full-time

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

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.

How To Apply

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students to apply is Wednesday 1 July 2020. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 10 September 2020.

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

Our Standard 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.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band.. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

 

International Requirements


Many core elements of the programme are delivered by the College of Social Sciences, but you will have an opportunity to study subject-specific modules and your dissertation will be undertaken and supervised within the Department of African Studies and Anthropology.

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

Your modules will be split across the two teaching terms, and will be followed by your dissertation. Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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 your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: African Studies

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. Our graduates pursue a variety of career paths, including lecturing and paid research. Over the past 5 years, 91% of African Studies postgraduates were in work and/or further study within 6 months of graduating (DLHE 2012 - 2017).