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Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Master African Studies: Critical Perspectives on Society, Politics, Culture

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Programme Overview

Profile of the master's programme

The Master of African Studies: Critical Perspectives on Society, Politics, Culture (M.A.) integrates the social science disciplines of social and cultural anthropology, sociology, political science, history and religion into one dynamic programme, while offering ample opportunity to specialize given the extensive Africa-related course selection available in each of the disciplinary areas. Students acquire an in-depth appreciation for diverse knowledge systems, multiple understandings of Africa, key debates in African Studies and current social and political developments on the continent, as well as the global processes and contexts that constitute them.  Significantly, the guiding principle of the M.A. is that the generation of knowledge today can no longer be limited to the old intellectual traditions of Europe.  The examination of knowledge production in Africa is exemplary for a decentered view of perspectives from and with the Global South.

African Studies in Bayreuth

The University of Bayreuth is one of the most important European locations for interdisciplinary African research with more than 40 professors and lecturers who have a research focus on Africa.  Students are able to pursue a broad, interdisciplinary range of courses on Africa and Africa-related issues.  At the University library, students have access to the second largest book and media collection on Africa in Germany with currently 155,000 volumes and media.  The “Africa Multiple” Cluster of Excellence and the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies make the University of Bayreuth a hub for African Studies.  Successful graduates of the Master in African Studies also have the opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree through the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS). 

Structure of the Programme

This programme is characterized by interdisciplinarity and the freedom to choose your own individual study focus.  It includes activities that represent a total of 120 ECTS, resulting from the following areas:

3 Core Modules (A: Total 15 ECTS) Hide

The M.A. begins with an introduction to the field of interdisciplinary African Studies, with a focus on the social sciences. A second core module offers a seminar on current debates in the study of Africa, taking up a topical issue or research frontier that we will engage from different disciplinary angles. A third core module brings insights into the contemporary politics of knowledge production and important debates around epistemologies of the Global South, including knowledges born within the struggles against racism, enslavement, colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and global coloniality.

3 Chosen Disciplines (B1/B2/B3/B4: Total 15 ECTS) Hide

The introduction to basic theoretical concepts and the interdisciplinary approach to African Studies is complemented by a disciplinary introduction to three of the social and cultural studies subjects that constitute the programme. You will choose three of the following four disciplines, each with a focus on Africa:
1) Global Political Sociology/Politics
2) Social and Cultural Anthropology
3) History
4) Religion and Islamic Studies

4 Core Seminars in 1 Discipline (C/D/E/F: Total 20 ECTS) Hide

Students then select one focal discipline, in which another 4 core courses are taken. Here you receive in-depth instruction that also includes methods training within your chosen core subject, which can then be applied to your Study Project and the Master Thesis.

3 General Electives (G: 15 ECTS) Hide

M.A. students are also given an elective module, in which additional courses can be selected from the wide range of Africa-related courses available across the university (within or beyond the M.A. participating disciplines). An overview of Africa-related study programmes at the University of Bayreuth is available here.

2 Language Courses (L: 8 ECTS) Hide

(African) Language courses can also be integrated into the study programme. UBT offers classes in several African languages including Kiswahili, Bambara and Hausa, as well as a host of other languages relevant to the study of the continent (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, etc.) Find more information at the University of Bayreuth’s Language Centre.

Study Project (P: 20 ECTS) Hide

At the heart of the M.A. in African Studies are: 1) the Study Project carried out with a supervisor in the chosen focal area, and 2) the Master Thesis. The Study Project focuses on developing and implementing an empirical research project. In many cases, this will involve fieldwork, but may also include archival research, interviews, document analysis and other forms and methods of primary data collection. These projects are an opportunity for students to put into practice the skills they have gained through their coursework, with guidance from senior teaching staff.

Master's Thesis + Colloquium (M: 27 ECTS) Hide

The Master Thesis rounds out the degree programme and can, but need not, be thematically related to the Study Project. The Thesis is an independent piece of written research in which students seek to answer a core research question, embedding their findings in the current theoretical debates of their respective disciplines, with reference to methods, ethics, positionality, and modes of knowledge production. Importantly, both the Study Project and the Master Thesis can be designed in an interdisciplinary manner.

Overview: Example curriculum for a full-time student

This chart serves as a template for how one might organize courses as a full-time student in the African Studies: Critical Perspectives on Society, Politics, Culture M.A. programme. It is recommended that students use this as a framework for planning their courses, so as to ensure feasibility and successful completion of the degree.

Webmaster: Univ.Prof.Dr. Jana Hönke

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