Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


nl en

African Studies

The MA in African Studies – unique in the Netherlands – is a multidisciplinary study, which offers you the chance to take an in-depth look at the African continent from a variety of perspectives. You will study the major historical, cultural, socio-economical and political factors currently affecting the continent, which will give you a solid knowledge based upon which to build post-graduation.

You have the opportunity to develop your own profile, both in the coursework and in writing your master’s thesis.


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

History and Politics in Africa 5
Researching Africa in the 21st Century 5
Africa in Practice 7,5
Economy, Geography and Society in Africa 5
Intensive Methods Clinic 2,5

Choose between:

Language and Communication in Africa 5
Literature, Art and Culture in Africa: African postcolonial theories and literary criticism 5

Second semester

Research internship (Field assignment) 15
MA Thesis African Studies 12
Communicating Research 3

More info


This multidisciplinary programme offers students the opportunity to study the African continent from many different angles. As a result, students acquire solid knowledge and understanding of the major historical, literary, cultural, socio-economical and political factors at play in Africa. They also acquire insight into the issues that are particularly relevant within this continent.

Such knowledge is essential for any profession that involves contact with Africa, for instance policy-making positions within the government, positions within NGOs concerned with development cooperation, positions in international organisations, journalism and public relations. Besides specialist knowledge of Africa, students also develop a number of general skills that form valuable assets in their search for employment and make a relevant job experience thanks to a period of internship in Africa. Moreover, the programme aims to raise students to a level of knowledge and skills that allows them to proceed to PhD research.


The first semester is devoted to group teaching and is both a broadening and deepening of the BA-programme as well as a preparation for the MA-thesis. The “Aims and Results of Africanist research MA” is the first course in the programme. This course is multidisciplinary and is taught by lecturers from the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and from the Centre for African Studies. The course covers subjects that are essential to every student studying the African continent, such as demographics, ecology, environment, the history of slavery, colonialism, and modern African politics, as well as economics and literature. Parallel to this first, quite intensive, block of courses, shared with students from the Research Master African Studies, the students follow one more course. Followed by three courses in the second block of the first semester. Already during the first semester, students start thinking about their MA Thesis and they prepare for their internship. Students are advised to go to Africa in the beginning of the second semester, for a field assignment.
From April onwards, when they have “returned from the field”, students start writing their MA thesis.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 60 EC programme and have completed their final thesis as a component of that programme. The thesis carries 15 EC and as a rule will not exceed a maximum of 17,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. To a large extent, the second semester will be dedicated to writing the master’s thesis. Insofar as possible, students are expected to conduct their research in Africa.

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in African Studies

The programme

The curriculum of African Studies is characterised by [add content].
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Faculty website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the Prospectus of African Studies include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.
The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of [name of MA study programme]

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within [name of study programme], this takes place within the following courses:

  • [add name of course](Link naar cursus) [and state which topics relating to the job market are covered (e.g. collaboration on project x, giving a pitch for research, or practice with writing a policy document)].

  • [add name of course](Link naar cursus) [and state which topics relating to the job market are covered].

  • [add name of course](Link naar cursus) [and state which topics relating to the job market are covered].


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your coordinator of studies, D.Y.M.Wackers