Universiteit Leiden

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African Studies (MA)

About the programme

Learn the newest insights from established researchers.

Within the time frame of one year, you will take six months of courses, do a three-month internship, and write your MA thesis.

Programme structure

Semester 1
The first semester is devoted to group teaching and serves to both broaden and deepen your knowledge of Africa as well as to prepare you for the MA-thesis.

Semester 2
At the beginning of the second semester you will go to Africa for a field assignment. The field assignment includes a period of internship linked to the research topic of your MA thesis. From April onwards, when you have returned from your field trip, you will start writing your MA thesis which is based on your own original research.

Semester 1 Semester 2
Researching Africa in the 21st Century (10 EC) Africa in Practice (5 EC)
Language and Communication in Africa (5 EC) Field Assignment African Studies (10 EC)
History and Politics in Africa (5 EC) MA Thesis African Studies (15 EC)
Literature, Art and Culture in Africa (5 EC)  
Economy, Geography and Society in Africa (5 EC)  

Please note: this is a provisional curriculum for 2018-19. Please visit our Prospectus for more information.

Your internship in Africa will equip you with a host of new skills that are valued by prospective employers, from communication skills to experience of field research. Our students have taken roles in communication, media, and economic development, and are practitioners in business, government, diplomacy and non-profit.

You will also receive funding for your internship from the Sustainable Humanities Internship Fund (for the academic year 2019-2020 this is €1,250 per student).

Student experiences

Read the experiences of some of our students doing an internship in Africa:

For your thesis you will develop your own thesis topic, working in conjunction with your MA thesis supervisor and the researchers leading the MA Thesis Seminar. A few titles among the MA theses completed in our MA African Studies one-year programme will give you an idea of some of the topics addressed.

The principal modes of learning during your master's are:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Internship in Africa

We assess your progress through:

  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays and reports
  • Oral presentations
  • MA thesis

Mirjam de Bruijn

Professor of Contemporary History and Anthropology of Africa

Mirjam de Bruijn

"We have a very large number of researchers available at Leiden University who work in various disciplines – from humanities to medicine – related to Africa. This means that we have an enormous wealth of expertise available and we are always able to successfully match our students with a researcher who shares their specific interest."

65 languages

"As Leiden University teaches around 65 languages, our students have the opportunity to study a specific language that will help them communicate with the people in their chosen country."

Current world issues

"A lot of the issues we study in African Studies are essential to understanding current world issues. One of the fields I am interested in, for example, is security and radicalisation. To understand the current debates in Europe about migration and radicalisation you need a good understanding of the developments in Africa."

Internship in Africa

"Students do an internship in Africa as part of the programme. They arrange their internships in Africa themselves. This requires them to use their own initiative and communications skills to get in touch with organisations. However, we do offer students some guidance in this process. I sometimes use contacts within my network to help students and guide them in the right direction. At the start of the programme we also match students with the right lecturer depending on their specific  interests."

Job market after African Studies

"Where our students end up working after graduation depends a lot on their personal area of interest. We have alumni working in journalism, but also as policy officers for the EU government. I also know of some alumni who are working in Africa at NGOs. One of our alumni is now working in Mali for the Dutch Ministry of Defence, for example."

Small classes

Teaching generally takes the form of small-scale seminars and tutorials, during which lively and engaging discussions are encouraged. Small class sizes ensure you enjoy a high level of direct contact with both your lecturers and fellow students.

Latest Research

All courses are taught by academics who are active researchers. Course content is constantly updated to reflect contemporary academic debates and the very latest insights, many from the studies conducted by lecturers on the programme. Our lecturers also play an active role in every individual's education, acting as mentors and community builders.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, see the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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