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 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; 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 feedback on this assignment, you will then choose your own topic, practising the same skills in researching and planning. Working as a group to prepare a presentation will develop your teamwork and oral communication skills.
You will also choose 100 credits of optional modules 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 (20 credits)
Example Optional modules
- Introduction to African Culture (20 credits)
- Introduction to African History and Politics (20 credits)
- Anthropology of Africa (20 credits)
- Introduction to African Geography and Development (20 credits)
- Thinking Anthropologically (20 credits)
- Widening Horizons (20 credits)
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.
You also choose 100 credits of Department of African Studies and Anthropology option modules. (Students may take up to 20 credits of these 100 credits of modules from other departments outside African Studies and Anthropology, provided the choice has been approved by the programme lead.) This flexibility in choosing options will mean that you can tailor the course to suit your interests. Forms of assessment will help develop the skills students need in employment or further study.
Example Options (second and third year)
- Aid, NGOs and Development (20 credits)
- From Colony to Nation: Ghana 1874-1966 (20 credits)
- New African Writing (20 credits)
- Caribbean Challenges to the Modern World (20 credits)
- Kinship, Gender and Sexuality (20 credits)
- Ethnographies of the Marginalised (20 credits)
- Africa, the Arts and Social Change (20 credits)
- Independent Study (20 credits)
- Rural Livelihoods and Development Interventions in West Africa (20 credits)
- South Africa in the 20th century (20 credits)
- Theory, Ethnography and Research (40 credits)
- Trajectories of Emancipation: Slavery, Labour, and Migration in Twentieth Century West African Societies (20 credits)
Detailed descriptions of second and third year modules
The option to study for a semester abroad
As an African Studies student in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology you can also apply to spend a semester abroad in your second year at one of our carefully selected partner universities, where we have close personal ties with academic staff. If your application is successful, during your time abroad you will be able to study modules in African Studies and related subjects, including topics specific to the place of study. It is possible to attend universities where all the modules offered will be taught in English. If students successfully apply for a Semester Abroad, they take a 60 credit Placement Module at an African University in one term and 60 credits of modules in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at Birmingham in the other term.
In your final year, you can choose your taught modules from a list available within the department. Students 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 (students may take up to 20 credits of these 80 credits of modules from other departments outside African Studies and Anthropology, provided the choice has been approved by the programme lead).
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, 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 optional modules