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MA Thesis African Studies


Admission requirements

The MA thesis African Studies is a compulsory element of the MA African Studies and only open to students that have been admitted in this programme.


The MA thesis is normally written on the basis of a 10 weeks research internship in an Africa-related setting. Students develop the research proposal for their projects during the courses Africa in Practice and Researching Africa in the 21st Century in the first semester. Students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves.

The thesis for the African Studies MA programme should as a rule not exceed a maximum of 17,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. The thesis is supervised by a lecturer of the MA programme of African Studies or another Africanist within Leiden University.

Course Objectives

A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation and under supervision. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, the thesis must show that the student is capable of reporting on research in an academically sound manner.

Knowledge and understanding

  1. Multidisciplinary knowledge of and insight into societies and cultures of Africa at an advanced level.
  2. A thorough understanding of the societal relevance of the study subject.
  3. General knowledge of and insight into current issues within the overall field and main disciplines of African Studies
  4. Advanced knowledge of at least two of the following disciplines in relation to African Studies: Linguistics, Culture Studies, Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, History, or Economics.

Applying knowledge and understanding

  1. The ability to apply knowledge, insights, concepts and research methods relevant in African Studies in independent research
  2. The technical and cognitive skills to collect, select, analyse and critically evaluate data and academic literature to formulate an answer to research questions
  3. The ability to work with a complex body of sources of diverse nature and to report on this analysis in written form
  4. The ability to apply academic knowledge and insights to other professional domains, such as policy, development, business or journalism.
  5. The ability to work in an unfamiliar country and/or professional environment and with stakeholders of a different nature

Ability to formulate judgements

  1. Formulate judgements in the field of African Studies
  2. Take into account social and cultural, academic and ethical aspects relevant to the analysis of complex questions and the formulation of judgements.
  3. Reflect on methodological, historical and ethical-social aspects of African Studies.


  1. Written skills to clearly communicate the outcomes

Learning Skills

  1. Has the learning skills to continue further study at a professional level / start a PhD
  2. Is able and aware of the necessity to keep abreast of relevant developments in the academic and practitioners’ field.
  3. Is able to assess where her/his own research/work can contribute to academic or practitioners’ fields.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Thesis MA

Assessment method

  • Thesis MA

Reading list

Not applicable.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats
E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress please contact the Coordinator of Studies