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The Field of African Studies and Interdisciplinarity Part 1. Aims and results of Africanist research MA/RESMA


Admission requirements

Compulsory for students enrolled in the ResMA African Studies program and for students of 1-year MA African Studies. Those from other MA programs may be admitted with prior registration (contact the coordinator of studies)

Course code for MA AS students is 5734V1105
Course code for ResMA AS students is 5734V1106


The course contrasts the intellectual homogenization of Africa created by colonialism and post-colonial politics with the great diversity of the continent. The course addresses the epistemology of African Studies and its multi-disciplinary nature (construction of knowledge on / in Africa) in a series of related issues that all researchers in Africa need to know:

  • The different ideas about what ‘African Studies’ are or should be

  • the imagery of ´Africa´ in different disciplines, and the manner in which various disciplines have been developing a study of Africa;

  • the longue durée of economic processes of and on the African continent;

  • the importance of historical contextualization in African Studies;

  • the history and persistence of religion in Africa;

  • local forms of knowledge in Africa and the role of innovations and the idea of ‘modernity’ and ‘development’;

  • identity and political formations in Africa

Course objectives

The course provides the students with insights into the various ways Africa was and is looked at throughout time. It makes the students aware and familiar with the nature, debates and controversies in African Studies. The course is designed to deepen each student’s understanding of Africa, and simultaneously to provide a forum in which the development of his/her research interests can be furthered.


African Studies African Studies research

Mode of instruction

Lecture/seminars. The course consists of seven weeks, each of these weeks comprising lectures on Mondays and Thursdays, and on three of these days instead of a lecture students will present their written assignments. These presentations on the basis of pre-written papers will take the form of workshop-meetings.

Course Load

  • 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 ½ hrs per week x 7 weeks)

  • 100 hrs to be spent on studying compulsory literature: 90 pages literature per week

  • 118 hrs research and writing assignment papers

  • 8 hrs will be spent in group feedback sessions on assignment presentation

  • 2 hrs will be spent on mentor sessions and course evaluation

Assessment method

In order to complete the course successfully, the following examination requirements need to be fulfilled:

  • attendance and active participation in class;

  • reading of the compulsory literature per class;

  • the completion of two different sets of assignments, according to the following;

A. In-class assignments;
Per class students will take turns in completing the following tasks;
TASK 1; Chair the meeting and give a summary of the 1st article of the reading-list
TASK 2; Introduce the speaker and give a summary of the 2nd article of the reading list
TASK 3; Interview the speaker and give a summary of the 3rd article of the reading list
TASK 4; Make a report of the session

B. Out-of class assignments;
1) - For RESMA-students; Write a critical essay about how Africa is imagined in the western media (e.g. CNN, BBC World Service, RFI, Newspaper-coverage). (max number of words: 1,500) - For MA-African Studies; Write a critical essay about how Africa is imagined in documentation produced by N.G.O.’s working in Africa (e.g. websites, policy-documents, blogs etc.). (max number of words: 1,500)

This essay is to be presented at the session of September 28, 2017.

2) Blog writing: - For RESMA-students; write a blog (max 1,500 words) about what African is in African Studies and your motivation to study African Studies. - For MA-African Studies; write a blog about your perceptions of a current and pressing problematic that African countries are facing

The text of your blog is to be presented at the session of October 9, 2017.

3) Write an essay or short research proposal that relates core concepts and theoretical frameworks of two different lectures in this course in an innovative and possibly interdisciplinary way. (Max number of words: 2,000 excluding references, footnotes, tables, figures)

This essay is to be presented at the session of October 26, 2017.

4) Attend a scientific seminar organized by the ASCL (or another research department in the Netherlands on a topic that is related to Africa) and engage actively in the debate; write a report on the content of the presentation and debate and provide some critical reflections on the theoretical framework or core concepts used (max number of words: 1,500).

This essay is to be submitted at the ending of the course November 3, 2017.

Examination criteria for completing the course:

Three of the four written assignments will be presented in class. Students will be informed of the dates of the in-class presentations. The presentation is considered a practical exercise. Students can submit these written assignments only when they have conducted this presentation. The fourth assignment will not be presented in class.

  1. Written assignments that have not been submitted by the deadlines that will be announced will no longer be assessed. Only in exceptional circumstances – as judged by the course-coordinator – can the student be granted more time to complete the assignment.
  2. In case an assignment submitted by the first and announced deadline for submission did not receive a pass, the student will receive feedback so as to complete a re-submission of the written assignment. Students will be informed of the final deadline for the resubmission of these assignments
  3. Written assignments that were submitted in time for the first deadline and which received a pass cannot be resubmitted
  4. The final grade of the course consists of the weighted average of 3 of the 4 written assignments; students will be informed of the 3 of the 4 assignments that will count for the weighted average in advance. However, all four assignments must receive a ‘pass’(5,5 and higher)

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Students registered for the course will be enrolled. Course information, teaching material, assignment papers and feedback are exchanged via Blackboard.

Reading list

A list of compulsory and recommended articles is stated in the detailed course programme for each lecture (the programme is made available via Blackboard, latest a week before the courses start). The material are available in the different libraries of the University and the African Studies Centre. Students must study the compulsory literature of each lecture beforehand.


Enrolment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

MA Students: 5734V1105
RESMA Students: 5734V1106

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see Study Abroad/Exchange for information on how to apply.


R.A. van Dijk

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk