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African Studies

African Studies has an orientation towards the humanities. Students can choose from three tracks: History and Anthropology, Literature and film (art), and Linguistics. It is also possible to combine the tracks. Students can choose between Berber and Swahili, languages that are taught divided in courses over the three years, and students will also learn a language of their choice that will be taught during the stay abroad.

The first year is the same for everybody, except for the choice of language. There will be special attention to develop digital research and publication skills. At the end of the first year students make a choice for a track, or combination of two tracks. Also, students can choose between different options to go to a University or knowledge institute in Africa in their second year.

In the third year the students will work in semester 1 on a project, that demands students to apply their skills on a more practice oriented theme and end product.

First year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Introduction to African Studies 5
Introduction to African History 5
Activating the Past: Heritage, Sources & Public History of Africa 5
Introduction to African Literature & Arts 5
African Languages Lab 10

Second semester

Oral Performance in Africa 5
Research in Present-day Africa 5
African Networks: international relations, connectivity, diaspora 10

Language Acquisition I (Choose 1)

Berber I 10
Swahili I 10

Second year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Compulsory courses

Core Curriculum: Area Studies 5
Philosophy of Culture 5
Research in Practice 5
Study in Africa 25

Elective courses (Choose 2)

Core Curriculum: World Art and Beyond 5
Climate, Health and Medical Encounters in Africa 5
Language, Culture and Society in Africa 5

Language Acquisition II

Berber II 10
Swahili II 10

Third year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Compulsory courses

Africa Today 10

Tied electives (Choose 1)

African Religions and Philosophies: Understanding Diversity and World Connections 5
Swahili Libraries and Indigenous Heritage 5
Anthropological Linguistics 5


Electives/Minor 30

Language Acquisition III

Berber III 5
Swahili III 5

Bachelor thesis

Thesis Seminar BA African Studies
BA Thesis African Studies 10

Career preparation in African Studies

Career preparation in African Studies

How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation? These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.

You will be notified via the Humanities website and by email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

First year

Second year

Third year

Mentor Network with students and alumni
Leiden University actively seeks to prepare students for the labour market and wants to help young alumni at the start of their careers. For this we like to use the knowledge and experience of Leiden alumni. To bring these students and young alumni who have questions about their career in contact with experienced alumni, Leiden University has created the Mentor network.

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as
conducting research, critical thinking and argumentation skills, intrapersonal skills such as creative thinking, self-directed learning and interpersonal skills such as effective communication, persuasion, and teamwork. In short: what you need to function well in a responsible position.


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service or with your Study Advisor Tim Sanders.