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African Studies

The MA in African Studies – unique in the Netherlands – is a multidisciplinary study, which offers you the chance to take an in-depth look at the African continent from a variety of perspectives. You will study the major historical, cultural, socio-economical and political factors currently affecting the continent, which will give you a solid knowledge based upon which to build post-graduation.
You have the opportunity to develop your own profile, both in the coursework and in writing your master’s thesis.


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Researching Africa in the 21st Century 10
Language and Communication in Africa 5
History and Politics in Africa 5
Literature, Art and Culture in Africa 5
Economy, Geography and Society in Africa 5

Second semester

Africa in Practice 5
Field Assignment African Studies 10
MA Thesis African Studies 15

More info


This multidisciplinary programme offers students the opportunity to study the African continent from many different angles. As a result, students acquire solid knowledge and understanding of the major historical, literary, cultural, socio-economical and political factors at play in Africa. They also acquire insight into the issues that are particularly relevant within this continent.

Such knowledge is essential for any profession that involves contact with Africa, for instance policy-making positions within the government, positions within NGOs concerned with development cooperation, positions in international organisations, journalism and public relations. Besides specialist knowledge of Africa, students also develop a number of general skills that form valuable assets in their search for employment and make a relevant job experience thanks to a period of internship in Africa. Moreover, the programme aims to raise students to a level of knowledge and skills that allows them to proceed to PhD research.


The first semester is devoted to group teaching and is both a broadening and deepening of the BA-programme as well as a preparation for the MA-thesis. The “Aims and Results of Africanist research MA” is the first course in the programme. This course is multidisciplinary and is taught by lecturers from the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and from the Centre for African Studies. The course covers subjects that are essential to every student studying the African continent, such as demographics, ecology, environment, the history of slavery, colonialism, and modern African politics, as well as economics and literature. Parallel to this first, quite intensive, block of courses, shared with students from the Research Master African Studies, the students follow one more course. Followed by three courses in the second block of the first semester. Already during the first semester, students start thinking about their MA Thesis and they prepare for their internship. Students are advised to go to Africa in the beginning of the second semester, for a field assignment.
From April onwards, when they have “returned from the field”, students start writing their MA thesis.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 60 EC programme and have completed their final thesis as a component of that programme. The thesis carries 15 EC and as a rule will not exceed a maximum of 17,000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. To a large extent, the second semester will be dedicated to writing the master’s thesis. Insofar as possible, students are expected to conduct their research in Africa.