Research course

African Studies

University of Birmingham · Department of African Studies and Anthropology

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Entry requirements

A good honours degree in a relevant subject.

Months of entry


Course content

This programme aims to develop your critical and analytical skills in relation to current ideas in African politics, history and anthropology or African and Caribbean literature. It provides you with the opportunity to identify, investigate in depth, and write up a research topic of your own, including the use of archival, oral media and internet sources.

The programme offers a number of alternative pathways allowing you to focus on a particular area within the subject.

You take three taught modules and write a dissertation of 20,000 words in the final term on a topic of your choice relevant to the focus of the pathway chosen.

Within all pathways of the African Studies MRes you will study the Research Skills and Methods in African Studies module. Each pathway then offers a selection of optional modules from which you choose to study two.


  • African and Caribbean Literature
    This pathway offers you the opportunity to study options in both African and Caribbean literatures and to work on an extended study within a comparative framework.
  • African Literature and Post-colonial Critical Theory
    This pathway examines the development of African literature in English in the 20th century in the context of a survey of the ways in which that literature has been read over time, paying particular attention to responses to those critical theories by African writers themselves.
  • Gender Issues in Africa
    This pathway examines gender relations in African states and societies, particularly in the light of different strands of theoretical feminist work. Through examination of specific examples, it looks at the significance of gender as an axis for analysis in policy areas in African contexts.
  • History and Politics of Southern Africa
    This pathway examines contemporary Southern African societies and politics in their 19th- and 20th-century historical contexts. The emphasis is on the emergence of modern South Africa's system of racial domination and its effects on government and economic development in the broader Southern African region.
  • Media and Popular Culture in Africa
    This pathway aims to provide you with the research skills necessary to undertake an interdisciplinary study of contemporary African culture, with a particular emphasis on media, performance and popular culture.
  • Atlantic Slavery
    This pathway provides a thorough overview of some of the major themes involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
  • Livelihoods and development in Africa
    This pathway explores rural and urban livelihood systems in Africa and assesses development interventions which aim to transform them.
  • Modern Ghana
    Students will engage with some of the most important questions in the field of African Studies, and find out how these questions might be answered in relation to a specific country, Ghana.
  • The social life of the economy
    This pathway asks fundamental questions about how humans produce, exchange, distribute and consume resources. It explore the topics of money, commodities and gifts, and the meanings of work in Africa and beyond.
  • Trajectories of emancipation
    This pathway offers an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of slavery and emancipation in West Africa, with comparative examples drawn from all African regions.
  • Yoruba culture
    This pathway explores the oral and written literature, theatre, music and everyday life of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria , past and present.
  • Independent Study
    This pathway allows students whose particular interests do not fall within any of the above pathways to develop a specialism in a chosen topic through guided reading, writing and discussion, subject to availability of supervision.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days (Friday 13 November 2015 and Friday 4 March 2016). Register to attend at:

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit:

Information for international students

International students can find details of scholarships at

Fees and funding

UK students
£6,030 FT - £3,015 PT
International students
£17,040 FT - £8,520 PT

Please visit:

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. For more information, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MRes
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Dr Benedetta Rossi
0121 414 5005