Universiteit Leiden

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African Studies (BA)

Study programme

In the African Studies BA programme you will obtain in-depth knowledge about Africa and the specific theme of your choice. At the same time, you will develop valuable academic and digital competences, as well as personal skills.

Some of the courses in your first year

You can choose to study either of these two languages. During the first year you will learn to have a conversation and to read simple texts in the language of your choice.

You will be introduced to the world of African languages, which is key to understanding African societies. Language is more than just words, it is also about ways of communicating. This particular linguistic aspect you will study, among others, by exploring how language plays a major role in in rituals and cultural festivities. Additionally, the oral nature of African cultures will be one of the central issues in this course.

This course will give you an overview of the history of African politics, economics, society, religion and culture from zero until the present day. Some of the topics to be discussed include slavery, colonialism and social inequality. You will discover how rich Africa was in the Middle Ages, and how Africa has always been connected to the rest of the world.


African literature, cinema, photography, and arts in general are on the rise. African artists win international grants and are much appreciated guests at major festivals. In this course, we will discuss how these art forms are related to oral cultures. Oral literature is an important genre in the study of African literature, which you will explore within the context of popular and youth culture

African Developments

In this course you will learn about the fascinating new developments in Africa, for instance how social media are changing economy and politics, what the resource wars of the 21st century are, or how the feminist movements are becoming increasingly influential. These new developments are studied in historical and socio-cultural perspectives.

Research in present-day Africa and Activating the Past: Heritage, Sources & Public History of Africa

In these courses, you will focus on a wide selection of research methods used to understand African society in the present and in the past.

African Diaspora: Historical Trajectories & Current Reconnection

Africa cannot be fully understood without also studying the African diaspora. In this course you will discover how the diaspora influences African affairs, politics and social development. Additionally, attention will also be given to the role of traditional and new media in such linkages.

Detailed programme

See below for an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, check the Prospectus. Please note that this Prospectus applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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More information

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