Taught course

African Studies

University of Cambridge · Centre of African Studies

Entry requirements

Applications are welcome from British, EU and international students. Minimum qualifications are a solid 2.1 honours degree and an excellent command of English. All candidates for admission to the MPhil are expected to be of PhD potential and to have degree results in at least the top quarter of the graduating cohort at their previous university.

It should be emphasised that the entry system for the University of Cambridge is a flexible one, notwithstanding the requried minimum academic standard. The Centre of African Studies does not follow mechanical rules to judge applicants; instead, for each individual, it considers:

  • the level of academic achievement
  • relevant work experience
  • the research proposal
  • the suitability of the MPhil in African Studies course to the applicant’s academic and professional needs
  • and the applicant’s academic references and writing sample.

We look for evidence of the ability to write good quality essays and of the capacity to carry out and write up a research project to a high standard. The research proposal is especially important for assessing applicants’ preparedness for the academic demands of the MPhil in African Studies, and consideration is also given to the ‘research fit’ between applicant and potential supervisor. For this reason, applicants are encouraged to plan their research carefully, and if possible to identify a supervisor with whom they would like to work. A suitable supervisor must be available for any given applicant to be offered a place on the course.

Information about the minimum academic requirements for international students seeking entry to the University of Cambridge is available here.

Visit our website for information on how to apply.

Months of entry


Course content

The Centre of African Studies (CAS) was established in 1965 by the path-breaking anthropologist Audrey Richards. Its current Director is Professor Harri Englund. CAS supports teaching and research on Africa at the University of Cambridge through its library and its various seminars and events. It acts as a platform for interdisciplinary and international scholarship by drawing Cambridge academics and research fellows doing research in Africa into a vibrant scholarly community.

The Centre is proud to host visiting academics from African universities every year and to be associated with the Cambridge-Africa Programme, a working partnership between the University of Cambridge and several African universities and institutes, which supports the training of African doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.

The MPhil in African Studies is a taught postgraduate course with a substantial research component. It is structured by four key elements. These are the core course, the option course, the dissertation, and luage training.

Assessment consists of four components:

  1. A practice essay on a topic related to the candidate’s dissertation; submitted at the beginning of the second academic term (Lent)
  2. The coursework essays; submitted during the second academic term (Lent) for the core course and option course
  3. The dissertation; submitted at the end of the third academic term (Easter)
  4. A certificate of proficiency or a certificate of attendance; this certificate is awarded by the University of Cambridge Language Centre to confirm a candidate’s successful completion of language training, normally by the beginning of the third academic term (Easter)

All assessed essays have a word limit of 5,000 words; the dissertation is 15,000-20,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography). The practice essay is marked as pass/fail; candidates must achieve a pass mark (one resubmission is allowed), but the numerical figure does affect the final degree assessment. Completion of language training is mandatory, but numerical marks achieved in Cambridge University Language Programmes courses are not counted in the final degree assessment. For more information on the course components, please visit our current students pages.

The final mark for the MPhil in African Studies is calculated as follows:

  • The coursework essays are examined and weighted at 40% of the final mark (20% each)
  • The dissertation is examined and weighted at 60% of the final mark.
  • The weighted essay and dissertation marks are added together and rounded either up or down to produce a final mark.

Essays and dissertations are marked on a numerical scale, with 60% or above being a pass.

Fees and funding

Visit our Fees and Funding homepage.

Qualification and course duration


full time
9 months


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Dissertation70 (15000 words)
Two essays of 5000 words each30

Course contact details

Judith Weik
+44 (0)044 1223 769 328
+44 (0)044 1223 769 329