Masters degrees in African History explore the peoples, civilisations and cultures of the African continent from ancient times through to the Modern period. These courses often encompass key topics and periods such as pre-colonial and colonial developments, followed by the rise of independence movements and the growth of separate African nations.
Related subjects include African Literature as well as branches of Ancient History and World History. Specialist postgraduate topics include Imperial History and Post-Colonial Studies.
The African continent is commonly regarded as the region in which humans first emerged and has a rich history as the site of some of the earliest and most important civilisations – including the Ancient Egyptian, Carthaginian and Babylonian Empires.
Recent centuries have seen turbulent periods of colonisation, slavery and struggles for independence, followed by the emergence of proud nation states with a rich heritage and an important place in world politics and economics.
As such, it’s no surprise that African Studies is a rich area for postgraduate work. You might focus on one or more of the broader topics above, or explore the history of specific nations, peoples and cultural or social movements.
Careers with a Masters in African History and Culture are suitably diverse. Obvious opportunities include work in international relations, heritage studies or politics, but many more pathways are available.
Durham's MA in Social and Economic History at Durham provides training in research methods for historical topics in any aspect of social and economic history. The MA provides quantitative and qualitative research methods appropriate to a wide range of historical approaches. Accredited by the ESRC, this MA is part of our four year funding scheme offered by the North-East Doctoral Training Centre. You can apply for 1+3 funding for this MA followed by a PhD in any aspect of social and economic history with expert supervision available within the Department – and with our partner institution in the NEDTC at Newcastle University. This includes African history, and aspects of governance, as well as traditional social and economic topics. For further information on funding see further below.
The MA programme is shared with the School of Applied Social Science and will help you to build an awareness of the contemporary boundaries of social and economic history and to master advanced understanding of the concepts and methods with which it may be interrogated. It seeks to equip you with a diverse portfolio of research techniques and approaches to enable you to undertake extended independent research in your dissertation, and to make your own contribution to the field. The skills provided by this MA are also transferrable to a wide range of careers.
Durham has a long tradition of economic and social history, on which this MA draws. The breadth of possible subjects for study mirrors the comprehensive and global nature of the department staff: from medieval Europe to modern-day Africa, and from north-east England to the global economy. Durham's History Department is situated in the historic setting of the World Heritage Site, which includes Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle. Students of social and economic history at Durham benefit from the rich archival and manuscript resources in the collections of the University (at Palace Green Library - especially the Sudan Archive - and Ushaw College) and in the Cathedral Library, while the wider regional resources for study of the period are also highly significant: the landscape of industrial revolution and of post-industrial response, of globalisation and regional identity.
The MA in Social and Economic History is a one-year full-time programme (or two-years part-time). All students are allocated a supervisor at the beginning of the first term, and s/he guides each student through the year.
You will take 30 credits of core modules from History: Themes, Reading and Sources (30 credits); and 30 credits of core modules from the School of Applied Social Sciences: Perspectives on Social Research (15 credits) AND EITHER Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits) OR Fieldwork and Interpretation (15 credits). You will write a 60-credit dissertation (15,000 words) supervised by a member of academic staff in the History Department. You will also choose a 30-credit optional module in History; AND 30 credits of optional modules from Social Sciences: EITHER Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits) and Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits) OR Applied Statistics (30 credits).
The programme is structured as follows:
Michaelmas Term (October-December)
Epiphany Term (January-March)
Easter Term (April-June), and the summer vacation (until early September)
The programme is delivered primarily through small group seminar teaching with some larger classes, and lecture-style sessions. Termly division of contact hours between terms depends on student choice. Skills modules are taught through seminars or classes and are usually more contact-hour-intensive. Optional modules are taught in seminars and provide a total of 20 contact hours. Dissertation supervision involves 8 hours of directed supervision, individually with a dedicated supervisor. Social science modules are taught through lectures, seminars, workshops, and practical classes.
This programme will allow you to take a broad approach to African, Indian, American, British and European history from the early modern period to the 21st century.
A core module will allow you to sharpen your research skills, and you’ll choose from a wide range of optional modules spanning nations, continents, periods and themes to explore topics that interest you. You could study black internationalism alongside early modern Europe, the Spanish state, Stalinism, political violence in India or apartheid.
You’ll be taught by leading researchers as part of a large and diverse School of History and Leeds Humanities Research Institute, supported by active research groups and extensive library resources. Our research interests range from social history and identity to political history, nationalism and internationalism, meaning this flexible programme offers plenty of opportunities to gain important skills while focusing on issues that suit your interests.
You’ll study in a supportive environment with a wide range of resources. The world-class Brotherton Library has one of the best history collections in the UK, ranging from monographs and journals to conference papers, theses and over 100 digital databases of primary sources and other materials for fundamental research. The Brotherton also has its own special collections including the Leeds Russian Archive and the Feminist Archive North.
The Alf Mattinson Collection is full of printed works and papers related to the history of the Labour Party, and the Romany collection and Liddle Collection offer insights into Romany culture and the First World War respectively.
This programme is also available to study part-time over 24 months.
You’ll study one core module in your first semester, introducing you to different research methodologies in history and allowing you to develop your skills. You’ll also select from a wide range of optional modules throughout the year, allowing you to pursue topics that interest you such as the history of Yorkshire, the European Enlightenment or issues surrounding global security.
You’ll also have the opportunity to work collaboratively with partner organisations, such as the West Yorkshire Archive Service, by studying the ‘Making History: Archive Collaborations’ module.
This programme will equip you with in-depth subject knowledge, as well as high-level skills in research, interpretation and analysis. You’ll be able to demonstrate these when you complete your dissertation on a modern history topic of your choice, which you’ll submit by the end of the programme.
If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.
These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.
We use a range of teaching and learning methods. The majority of your modules will be taught through weekly seminars, where you’ll discuss issues and themes in your chosen modules with a small group of students and your tutors. Independent study is also crucial to this degree, giving you the space to shape your own studies and develop your skills.
We use different types of assessment to help you develop a wide range of skills, including presentations, research proposals, case studies and essays, depending on the subjects you choose.
This programme will heighten your cultural and social awareness as well as allowing you to build your historical knowledge. You’ll also gain high-level research, analysis and communication skills that will prove valuable in a wide range of careers.
Graduates have found success in a wide range of careers in education, research and the private sector. Many others have continued with their studies at PhD level.
We offer different forms of support to help you reach your career goals. You’ll have the chance to attend our career groups, meeting students with similar plans, or you could become a paid academic mentor to an undergraduate completing their final-year dissertation. You could also apply for one of the internships we offer each year.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.
The MRes is available to both full-time and part-time students from January 2018.
Full-Time Students will enrol on Introduction to the History of Africa and the African Diaspora (30 credits) and the Research Proposal and Literature Review module (30 credits). These will prepare them for their research project. They will then be allocated a research supervisor to work for the remaining credits by supervised independent research and the writing of their dissertation (120 credits). Full time students must complete 180 credits over one academic year.
Part-Time students will enrol in year 1 on Introduction to the History of Africa and the African Diaspora (30 credits) in semester 1 and the Research Proposal and Literature Review module (30 credits) in semester 2. These modules will prepare them for their research project in year 2. They will then be allocated a research supervisor to work for the remaining credits by supervised independent research and the writing of their dissertation (120 credits). Part time students must complete 180 credits over two academic years.
In all cases, students must complete 60 level 7 credits before working on your dissertation. Under university regulations there are no exit points for the MRes so neither postgraduate certificates nor diplomas are awarded for students who obtain less than 180 credits.
One-to-one research supervision and tutoring from expert and dedicated teaching staff
Access to online books and journals via Dawsonera, Ebrary, JSTOR etc.
Use of SCONUL Access facilities which allows university library users to borrow or use books and journals at other libraries which belong to the scheme.
Access to Moodle our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Moodle pages will provide:
Access to all student support and information services via one-stop Support and Information Zone.
Access to online digital and academic skills and training from our Skills Team.
We place considerable emphasis on the development of primary research skills and the enhancement of analytical and written skills. These are essential if you wish to embark on a PhD research degree.
The knowledge and skills you gain by completing our MRes will stand you in good stead if you wish to pursue a career within the heritage, education, media or culture sectors.
You may wish to complete our MRes if you are looking for an intellectual challenge, have always wanted to carry out your own research in this area of history, or wish to combine study with your existing occupation.
The MA History programme at Queen’s is designed around students’ research interests and provides the opportunity to choose courses relating to a variety of historical periods and locations. There are six strands (African and Asian; American; British; Irish; Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern and Religion, Identity and Conflict). Within each strand, students can opt to specialise in particular areas such as gender history, religious history, social history, political history or economic history. Or, they can create a more varied personal programme of study. The School has a host of world leading experts in all periods of time from Ancient to Contemporary History.
These strands share some common elements in research methods and historiography, but allow specialisation through separate taught modules and dissertation supervision. Applicants are requested to indicate which strand they intend to follow on the 'additional information' section of the application form. Students will take a number of compulsory and optional modules.
There are six main components within each strand:
plus a double-weighted dissertation module of up to 20,000 words.
Assessment and Feedback
Assessment is by coursework: essays, critical commentaries on primary sources; power point presentations; practical work on documents or internship-related assessment; and a 20,000-word dissertation.
Learning and Teaching
The MA can be regarded either as an end in itself, culminating in the distinction of having obtained a postgraduate degree and enhanced your employability skills as a researcher, or as a stepping stone to the higher research degree of PhD. Many graduates have gone on to PhD programmes both at Queen’s and other world-leading Universities. Others go into a wide variety of employment including careers in museums, archives or libraries; journalism or media related work; teaching; private and public administration; economic development and the voluntary sector.
Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.
How to apply
Applicants for Postgraduate programmes are strongly advised to carefully read the important information and follow the steps set out here before submitting their application via the Postgraduate Direct Applications Portal.
Has the end of the Cold War created a new world order? Has the fall of the Berlin Wall inaugurated a new Europe? Has 9/11 changed our world and the character of our democracies forever? Are we facing a ‘clash of cultures’ in the Middle East? Is American power declining and being replaced by new players on the world stage?
This MSc allows you to explore such questions critically and analytically while discovering how the recent past shaped the modern world. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the increasingly global experience of humankind in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A specialised methodological and historiographical course will help you appreciate the distinctiveness of contemporary history; its use of radio, television, film, and internet-based sources such as Wikileaks; and its methodology. This rigorous skills training will be supplemented by a variety of topical, specialised options, covering virtually every distinctive approach to history (e.g. political, social and economic) and every region on the globe, underlining the increasing globalisation of our recent past.
The MSc makes use of Edinburgh’s unique archival and bibliographical resources – the National Archives of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the University’s library and archives – and is enriched by the city’s key role in current British politics. Additionally, with our close association to the Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History, Edinburgh is a wonderful environment for contemporary scholarship.
The programme combines methodological and substantive courses with intensive student participation. The analysis of diverse primary source material is essential, as is situating research findings within an established historiographical tradition. You will complete three compulsory courses and select a further three options from a wide range on offer. You will also complete a dissertation.
The compulsory courses are:
Option courses previously offered include those listed below. Option courses change from year to year and those available when you start your studies may be different from those shown in the list:
This is an advanced qualification, valued and respected by employers and also suitable as preparation for a PhD and a long-term academic career. The combination of skills training, specialised seminars, and independent research provides you with transferable skills that will be beneficial whatever path you choose.
Graduates work in related areas such as museums, policy think-tanks, national and international civil services, non-governmental organisations, galleries, libraries and historic trusts. Others enter business, media, public administration or marketing.
The Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA) offers promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in a centre of excellence in the study of Africa.
Times Higher Education ranked the Department of African Studies and Anthropology second among all Area Studies departments in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a thesis of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision. The PhD, the most advanced research degree, leads to a thesis of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice. Again under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff.
We give all possible support to our researchers, developing the resources available at the University and encouraging an active postgraduate environment for the exchange of information and ideas.
You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).
For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.
The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.
You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.
You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.
Postgraduate employability: African Studies
Our African Studies graduates develop a range of skills including oral and written communication, analysis and evaluation, problem solving, independent working and research skills, which can be used in a variety of occupations. A snapshot of graduate destinations over a five-year period has identified a variety of career paths, including lecturing and paid research. Over the past three years, 100% of African Studies students have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.