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African Studies (research) (MA)

The research master's in African Studies at Leiden University is unique in continental Europe for the interdisciplinary range of subjects offered and the long-term fieldwork in Africa.

Missed the Master's Online Open Days on 10-11 November? The presentations have been recorded, and can be found on the Master Talks platform!

Why study African Studies (research) at Leiden University?

The two year’s research master’s programme in African Studies at Leiden University bridges the often artificially drawn boundaries between the humanities and the social sciences, combining perspectives from history, literary studies, anthropology, political science and economics, among others. As a result you have the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge about different aspects of the African continent and its peoples, while being challenged to go beyond the boundary constraints of any of the more traditional disciplines focusing on Africa. Small classes ensure that you have plenty of direct contact with your lecturers and a high level of guidance and support throughout your studies.

Fieldwork research 

An important aspect of this programme is developing your ability to conduct original and interdisciplinary fieldwork research. You have the opportunity to spend six months doing fieldwork research in Africa or an Africa-related setting elsewhere, and six months to analyse, write and publish your own research project. For your fieldwork research in Africa you will have access to two university funds to get financial support, the Ulhenbeck and Lustra+ funds.

Develop and practise your research skills
To prepare, you will take courses that will guide you through social theory, methodology development, and proposal writing, while gaining in-depth knowledge about many aspects of Africa and its people. This will provide you with experiences into working and conducting independent research in Africa. You will also practice your debating and presentation skills, learn how to write a scientific publication and reach the general public. These skills will enable you, upon graduation, to initiate PhD or policy research, advise and participate in policy development, and offer training to organisations and businesses wanting to work in an African context. Learn more about the study programme

Choose your area of interest

During your studies you will gain knowledge on different themes and regions on the African continent and learn how to embed this thematic and regional knowledge in a broad set of theoretical perspectives. This will make you well-prepared to subsequently design your own research project on a topic of your liking. The programme is taught by leading African Studies scholars with each unique areas of specialisation. They will further guide you in developing and carrying out research in your specific area of interest. These are a few examples of researches by our students in recent years:

  • Decolonising in Teaching in Senegalese High Schools 
  • Beer and the establishment of the Namibian nation 
  • Chinese state-owned construction companies in Senegal  
  • Fisher identity formation in Mafia Island, Tanzania 
  • Living with the legacy of displacement in Pabo, northern Uganda 
  • Young women navigating of same-sex intimacies in contemporary urban Senegal 
  • New ICTs in Burkina Faso’s recent journey to socio-political change 

Find out more details on these studies and other thesis projects

Access resources from the Africa Studies Centre Leiden

During your studies you will have access to the excellent facilities of Leiden University, and in particular those of the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) and its research library. The network of the ASCL, regular seminars, conferences and research collaborations on Africa will provide international orientation and embedding for your MA research, all of which will help you forge an outstanding start to your career.

75th anniversary African Studies Centre Leiden

The ASCL celebrated its 75th anniversary on 8 September 2022 at Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. In her word of welcome, ASCL director Prof. Marleen Dekker said: ‘As we are reflecting on 75 years of work on, with and in Africa, it is fascinating to observe the changes in the work we do, how we do it, with whom we do it, and how we represent Africa’. Read more about the celebration.

Admission and Application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's Programme? Check the admission requirements.

In which sector do students find jobs?

  • 29 Research
  • 29 Government and semi-government
  • 14 Culture, sport and recreation
  • 14 Health and welfare
  • 14 Teaching

The graph above is based on alumni data from the MA and Research MA African Studies 2016-2020.

Find out more about the career prospects

African Studies (research) degree

African Studies (research) at Leiden University is an accredited degree programme. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a research master’s degree in African Studies and the title Master of Arts (MA).

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