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Reflexivity and Methodologies in Africanist Research


Admission requirements

Compulsory for students enrolled in the RESMA African Studies programme. Those from other MA programs may be admitted with prior registration (please contact 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 quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and methods that are often combined in interdisciplinary research (mixed methods). Students will be introduced to the operationalization of their research questions (i.e. how to apply these methodologies and methods ‘in the field’).
Finally, students will be challenged to reflect deeply about the many choices researchers have to make preparing and executing their academic research in the field.

Course objectives

Students will learn
1) In what ways epistemology differs from, but also relates to, “methodology and methods”
2) How they can think about the differences between and combinations of qualitative and quantitative research approaches
3) The specific relevance of methodological issues for Africanist research
4) How to write and present an integrated research proposal based on a well thought through research question.
Learning outcomes

At the end of the course:
1) Students have a basic understanding of the research process and the links between epistemology, ontology and methodological choices;
2) Students have understanding of the differences between different ontological and epistemological positions;
3) Students have learned the basic differences between various disciplines involved in African studies and are able to read, understand and debate about these;
4) Students have learned to write and present about epistemological issues and their own choices in this regard;
5) Students have knowledge of the relevance of these issues for the study of Africa;
6) Students have learned to work with others from different disciplines and to write a research/tender proposal for an international organization/donor;
7) Students have acquired a basic knowledge of the process of knowledge production.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture/seminar

  • Working groups

Assessment method

The classes and literature are examined by:
1) A group assignment and presentation;
2) Three individual assignments. and of the final mark.
1) Group assignment: 50%
2) Individual assignments: 50% (equal weight)
Resit: Will be done in consultation with the course coordinator.

Reading list

An extensive Study Guide will be send to the students prior to the course.


This has to be filled out by the key-user of the department.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For questions on the content of the course, please contact the course coordinator Harry Wels (

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats