Universiteit Leiden

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African Studies (research) (MA)

Admission requirements

To be eligible for African Studies (research) at Leiden University, you must meet the following admission requirements.

Diploma requirements

The following diploma requirements apply for this programme:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a research university, equivalent to the level of a Dutch academic Bachelor’s degree in the field of African Languages and Cultures, Linguistics, History, Cultural Anthropology, Literature, Sociology, Political Sciences, Public Administration, International Studies or other studies related to the Humanities or Social Sciences.

In addition, you must also meet the following qualitative admission requirements:

  • Good grades comparable with an average mark of at least 7.5 (Dutch grading system) for your entire bachelor’s programme;
  • A grade for the bachelor’s thesis of an 8 or higher;
  • Affinity with and suitability for scholarly research in the specific field of the programme/specialisation and the ability to clearly report on research. 
  • Demonstrable motivation to study and suitability for the particular Research MA programme/specialisation.

The qualitative admission requirements will be implemented as follows:

  • You are asked to provide a transcript of records and diploma of the relevant obtained academic degree.
  • Affinity with the field should be demonstrated by a  writing sample (a relevant research paper, Bachelor’s Thesis, or a Research Proposal of approximately 1000 words).
  • In case you submit a “Research Proposal”, the proposal should be accompanied by an annotated bibliography of at least five (5) items, outlining the topic or field of research that you wish to pursue.
  • Your motivation and suitability must be demonstrated by a motivation letter in which you indicate why you want to follow the programme and discuss what makes you a good candidate for the research MA programme. The statement should be between 700 and 1,500 words.

Language requirements

In order to successfully participate in this programme, you must be proficient in English. The following requirements apply:

  • IELTS: 7.0; where each separate component score must be at least 6.0;
  • TOEFL: 100, where each separate component score must be at least 20
  • Cambridge English C2 Proficiency, or C1 Advanced with overall score 180, where each separate component score must be at least 169. 

See also the English test score equivalency table of Leiden University.

Please note:



  • We are not able to accept The TOEFL IBT Home Edition™, except in the following situations only:
    You took the test before 1 Sept 2022 (and it is not more than 2 years old), or you are unable to take an in-person test on location because test centres are inaccessible or closed due to unsafe conditions in a country.
  • We do not accept the following types of test: TOEFL My Best™ scores (multiple test scores combined), TOEFL Essentials™  or institutional tests such as ITP.

Note that English test results may not be more than two years old.

You do not have to submit an English proficiency test if you have completed your education in the USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada (except French-taught programmes in Canada) Singapore, South-Africa or Malta; or if you have completed an English-taught bachelor at a Dutch research university.

Note that for this research master programme you cannot be granted an exemption for the English proficiency test based on a Dutch pre-university (vwo) diploma.

According to Dutch law, Leiden University is required to reimburse students with a Dutch pre-university (VWO) diploma for any extra costs they make for meeting the English language requirements. You can be reimbursed for the costs of the English language test if you meet the following conditions:

- You have obtained a Dutch VWO-diploma; and
- You have successfully completed the English language test; and
- You are admitted unconditionally to the research master programme; and
- You are enrolled in the research master programme.

After admission to the programme, you will be informed on how to submit the request for reimbursement of the test costs.

For detailed information, including exemption criteria and methods of submission, refer to English language proficiency.

Please note that Leiden University does not offer a pre-master's programme for African Studies (research).

>> Go to the next step: Check the application deadlines

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