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Research internship (Field assignment)


Admission requirements

In order to be admitted to the Field Assignment (Research internship), students need an approved internship plan and an approved research proposal.

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


The field assignment (research internship) combines a research and an internship. Students will spend 10 weeks on a field assignment (research internship) in Africa or an Africa related setting in the Netherlands/Europe. Students will be based at a host organization (internship provider) and conduct a research on a topic of joint interest. Host organizations can be NGOs, CBOs, local or central government agencies, media, art or business agencies, as well as scientific institutes or think tanks.

The goal of the research internship is to gain research experience with an Africa-related non-academic professional organization. In this way, students will also become acquainted with working with non-academic stakeholders and sharpen their critical thinking on Africa-related issues.

The research data will feed into the Master’s thesis. In addition, students provide output to the host organization as was agreed upon in the internship plan, e.g. a policy brief, a website text, a report of their findings, etc. Students are expected to spend about 80 percent of their time on the research and 20 percent on organizational matters (e.g. following a training, team activities etc.).

Students should organize and prepare for their internship placement themselves, but are assisted and advised in this process by lecturers in the seminar series Africa in Practice and by Career Service. For the field assignment (research internship) students are supervised by their Master’s thesis supervisor at Leiden University (university supervisor) and a local supervisor at the host organization (organization supervisor). The internship plan needs prior approval from the university supervisor, organization supervisor, Career Service and the Board of Examiners. The research proposal needs prior approval of the university supervisor and the lecturers in the seminar series Africa in Practice.

Course objectives

By the end of the course,

  1. Knowledge and understanding
    The student has:
  • Multidisciplinary knowledge of and insight into societies and cultures of Africa at an advanced level.

  • A thorough understanding of the societal relevance of the study subject.

  1. Applying knowledge and understanding
    The student has:
  • The ability to coherently understand knowledge insights of relevant issues in African Studies, key concepts, and research methods of the mentioned disciplines in African Studies and to apply this in independent research, as well as in other professional settings to complex problems.

  • The technical and cognitive skills to collect, select, analyse and critically evaluate data and academic literature, in order to formulate and test working hypotheses and to formulate an answer to research questions.

  • The ability to work with a complex body of sources of diverse nature and to report on this analysis orally, visually and/or in written form.

  • The ability to apply academic knowledge and insights to other professional domains, such as policy, development, business or journalism.

  • The ability to develop, arrange and execute a project in Africa or in an Africa-related setting, to liaise with various stakeholders of a different nature, and the ability to work in a (culturally) unfamiliar professional environment.

  1. Ability to formulate judgements
    The student is able to:
  • Formulate judgements, based on a question or problem in the field of African Studies, even when the student has limited information due to lacunae in the data available

  • Take into account social and cultural, academic and ethical aspects relevant to the analysis of complex questions and the formulation of judgements.

  • Reflect on methodological, historical and ethical-social aspects of African Studies.

  1. Communication
    The student has:
  • Oral, audio-visual and written skills to clearly communicate the outcomes based on the student’s own academic research, knowledge, motives, and considerations to professionals as well as the broader public.
  1. Learning Skills
    The student:
  • Is able and aware of the necessity to keep abreast of relevant developments in the academic and practitioners field.

  • Is able to assess where his/her own research/work can contribute to academic or practitioners’ fields


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Research

  • Internship

Assessment method

The university supervisor determines the grade for the research internship in close consultation with the organization supervisor. The assessment is based on four components:

  1. The content and quality of the internship report. The final version needs to be sent to Career Service.
  2. Final product/deliverables by the student to the host organization as was described in the internship plan prior to departure. For example, a policy brief, a contribution to a website, or a report.
  3. The performance of the student during his/her internship, including the start-up phase.
  4. The student’s communication before, during and after the internship with the university supervisor and organization supervisor. Course objectives assessed:

1 = PASS
2 = 50%
3 and 4 together = 50%

Please note that the internship report needs to be a ‘PASS’. In case a ‘FAIL’ for the internship report is awarded, the university supervisor will give a single opportunity to revise this component based on his/her feedback.


Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list



This has to be filled out by the key-user of the department.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

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  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats