nl en

Reflexivity and Methodologies in Africanist Research


Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students in the Research Master African Studies. Other students can be admitted after consultation with the course coordinator.


African studies is an interdisciplinary field. In answering research questions African Studies combines disciplines from the social sciences, humanities and to a lesser extent the natural sciences. In this course the students will be introduced to the practices of interdisciplinary research, working on their own epistemological position and writing a consistent research proposal in a group of three to four persons, based on a self developed research question.

The students will get acquainted with different research methodologies and methods, which are often combined in interdisciplinary research (mixed methods) and finally the students will be introduced to the operationalization (i.e. ‘how to go about all this in ‘the field’’), where trying to find answers to the research question will be linked to methodologies and techniques and to questions of how to operationalize a research question into practical research.

Course objectives

Students will learn (a) in what ways epistemology differs from, but relates to “methodology and methods”; (b) how they can think about the differences between and combinations of qualitative and quantitative research; (c) specific relevance of these methodological issues for research in Africa; (d) how to write and present an integrated research proposal on a given research question.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and Seminar:

  • The course comprises 10 EC and the total course load is thus 280 hrs

  • 52 hrs of these will be spent attending lectures and seminars (~7 hrs per week x 7 weeks)

  • 100 hrs to be spent on studying literature: 120 pages literature per week

  • 120 hrs research and writing assignment papers

  • 6 hrs will be spent in group discussion and feedback sessions

  • 2 hrs. mentor sessions

Assessment method

The classes and literature are examined by a group assignment; and by three individual assignments based on literature which students have to select themselves. The group assignment counts for 50% and individual assignments count for 50% (equal weight) of the final mark.

Resit: Rewrite Group Assignment and / or Individual Assignments

Inspection and feedback: Depending on the number of students on an individual base or collectively

Reading list

Lecture 1: ‘Introduction to interdisciplinarity’
Compulsory readings:

Lecture 2: Discourse, power and language

Compulsory readings:

Lecture 3: Historical methods
Compulsary reading:

Lecture 4: Multimodal methods
Compulsory readings:

  • MacDougall, D. (1998), Visual Anthropology and the Ways of Knowing, in Transcultural Cinema, 61–92, Princeton: Princeton University Press, Book in Library FSW: Cultan studie 131, copy available in ASC Library

  • Loizos, P. (1993) Complex constructions with subjective voices, in: Innovation in ethnographic film: From innocence to self-consciousness 1955-1985, 91-114, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Copy in ASC library

Compulsory viewing:

  • Lorang's Way (Turkana Conversations 1/3) by Judith MacDougall and David MacDougall (Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Media, 1980), 1 hour 6 mins. ASC Library, AVM 290

Lecture 5:
To be added later.

Lecture 6: Quantitative methods
Compulsory reading:

  • Hinkle, D.E.,Wiersma, W. and Jurs, S.G. (2003). Applied Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences. USA, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Pp. 1-2, 6-13 Available at VU University Amsterdam

  • Salkind, N.J. (2014), Statistics for people who (think they) hate statistics, Sage Publications Inc., p 1-10, 132-133, 139, 178 Copy available in ASC Library

Lecture 7: Research Methodologies and Gender.
Compulsory readings:

Lecture 8: Multispecies methods

To be added later


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.
Prospective students, please check the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats
E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress please contact Annelies de Koning the Coordinator of Studies