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BA African Studies

Start date
September
Duration
3 years
UCAS code
T500
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours
Fees

Africa is humankind’s original home; a continent of vast cultural and natural resources.  Whether coping with massive urbanisation, developing new kinds of politics, or inventing original literary and theatrical genres, Africans have been active and resilient makers of their own fortunes. 

The range of African Societies today and in the past is enormous: from egalitarian communities to elaborately hierarchical empires.  There are extremes of wealth and poverty; ancient oral cultures exist side-by-side with old traditions of literacy and state-of-the-art electronic media.  The Department of African Studies and Anthropology's undergraduate courses are grounded in Africans' own views of the continent and the world.

Most of our students enter the degree programme with an interest in either Africa or Anthropology, but few have studied these subjects at school or college.  You will have the opportunity to explore aspects of African History, Politics, Culture, Geography, Society and Development, giving you an awareness of the diversity of the continent.  

COVID-19

Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

Over the last three years I have studied topics such as witchcraft and kinship in my first year, LGBT activism in my second year and the meaning of money and commodities in my third year. I even conducted my own anthropological research project on the social pressures that influence student fashion trends. By studying undergraduate anthropology at the University of Birmingham I have questioned all of my assumptions about what it means to be human.

Hannah

Why Study this Course?

  • Outstanding student experience - The Department of African Studies and Anthropology has over 50 years of expertise in teaching and research in this fascinating area. Here, you will find a commitment to excellence in teaching and students from all parts of Africa, Europe, America and the Caribbean working together in a friendly community. 
  • Excellent employability - 90% of our graduates enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017).
  • Experienced staff - We have a core of expertise in Africa. Our staff have lived and taught in Africa, and continue to carry out research there. 
  • Study abroad option - You can apply to spend a semester abroad in the second year of your degree, taking a Placement module at an African University. 
  • Great resources - We house the Danford Collection, a nationally important collection of West African art and artefacts. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

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Modules

Please note: You will take 120 credits of modules in each year of study. 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 2020. 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.

First year

Compulsory modules

  • Studying Societies (African Studies and Anthropology) (10 credits)
  • Africa and the Disciplines (10 credits)
  • Introduction to African Culture (20 credits)
  • Introduction to African Politics and History (20 credits)
  • Introduction to African Geography (10 credits)
  • Introduction to African Development (10 credits)
  • Thinking Anthropologically (20 credits)
  • Anthropology of Africa (20 credits)

Descriptions of first year modules

Second year

Compulsory modules

  • Research in Practice (20 credits)

Optional modules

  • 100 credits of Department of African Studies and Anthropology optional modules 

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.

Third year

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (in african Studies) (40 credits)

Optional modules

  • 80 credits of Department of African Studies and Anthropology optional modules

Descriptions of second and third year modules

How To Apply

Standard offer

International Requirements



Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
BBB
General Studies:
Accepted

IB Diploma:
5,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM plus B at A-level.
  • BTEC Diploma: DM, plus B at A-level.
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus BB at A-level.

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

We expect applicants to have an interest in Africa rather than a detailed knowledge of the continent.
We welcome applications from mature and Access students.

International Students

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to higher education when you start at Birmingham. 

Personal tutors – You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.

Wellbeing Officers –You will also have access to dedicated wellbeing officers who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or to talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond if you need it.

Our Academic Skills Centre helps you to become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) provides guidance on writing essays and dissertations if you need it. You can receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects too.

Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They offer research opportunities, study skills support, and help you prepare for your post-university career. They also organise social events, including trips.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Students in the Danford Room

Contact hours

In your first year on our programmes in African Studies and Anthropology you can expect to have 9-12 contact hours, depending on your module choices. These will consist of a mixture of lectures and small-group teaching. 

In your second year you can expect to have 8-12 contact hours, depending on your module choices. These will consist of a mixture of lectures, small-group teaching, and supervision.

In your third year you can expect to have 8.5-9.5 contact hours, depending on your module choices. These will consist of a mixture of lectures, small-group teaching, and supervision. There are also many additional activities that are also available to students.

Assessment Methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Year one

The above data provides an indication of the type of activity a student is likely to undertake during a typical pathway on their chosen programme of study. The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. 

Year two

The above data provides an indication of the type of activity a student is likely to undertake during a typical pathway on their chosen programme of study. The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. 

Year three

The above data provides an indication of the type of activity a student is likely to undertake during a typical pathway on their chosen programme of study. The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. 

As a student of African Studies, you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are highly prized by employers.

African Studies has the advantage of being a distinctive degree that really helps you to stand out from the crowd. It makes you an Africa expert, opening up an increasing range of career possibilities as Africa's economy grows and African countries become more influential in the world.  For this reason, 90% of our graduates enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017).

You will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are attractive to employers, including:

  • Strong communication skills
  • A deep understanding of Africa and its peoples
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Handling complex information
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload

These are key skills that will enable you to pursue either further study in African Studies disciplines or move into employment in a wide range of other careers. Our graduates have gone on to careers such as: 

  • Adjudicator
  • Graduate research executive
  • Pensions administrator
  • Teacher
  • Graduate Intern
  • Compliance Executive
  • IT Project Management Trainee
  • Production runner
  • Parliamentary researcher
  • Business adviser
  • Caseworker
  • Event Manager
  • Postgraduate study

Developing your career

There is a range of opportunities through our Careers Network and beyond. For example, our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six-month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

Current partners include Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, and the Library of Birmingham. There are also internships available at the University’s own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

There are regular events each year covering careers in teaching, events management, working with charities and more, to help you meet potential employers and learn more about a range of sectors.

There are also summer internship opportunities and work experience bursaries, which allow you to apply for funding to support you during any unpaid internships.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you may want to engage in extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and your network of contacts.

Our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project run by one of our researchers in drama and theatre. You gain work experience over the summer after your first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Our employer-endorsed Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

There are also a huge number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, our students’ union, which cover a wide variety of interests across drama and the arts.

With more than 300 societies and groups at The Guild, there is something for everyone.If your interest does not yet have a group, then The Guild will support you to set it up and find likeminded individuals to join you.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities