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First year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First Semester

History and Politics in Africa 5
Reflexivity and Methodologies in Africanist Research 10
Economy, Geography and Society in Africa 5
Language and Communication in Africa 5
Literature, Art and Culture in Africa: African postcolonial theories and literary criticism 5

Second Semester

Theoretical Foundations and the Interdisciplinary Nature of African Studies 10
Methods and Skills in Africanist Research 5
Thematic Fields: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations 5
Africa in Cross-Regional Perspective 5
Seminar: Writing Research Proposal 5

Second year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First Semester

Research Project: Fieldwork 25

Second Semester

Thesis Research Master African Studies 25
Seminar Thesis Writing and Academic Publication 10

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in African Studies

The programme

The curriculum of the two year’s research master in African Studies is characterised by an interdisciplinary approach rooted in the humanities, such as history and literary studies, and the social sciences, such as anthropology, political science and economics. As a result you will have the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge about different aspects of the African continent and its peoples, at the same time you are not bound by boundary constraints of any of the more traditional disciplines focusing on Africa. An important aspect of this programme is developing your ability to conduct original and interdisciplinary research.
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which focus 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 followed 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 Faculty website, your study programme website and 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:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the Prospectus of African Studies include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.
The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Collaborative skills

  • Persuasion skills

  • Analytical and research skills

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of Research Master African Studies

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within the Research Master African Studies, this takes place within the following courses:

  • In almost all courses, you will practice and develop your analytical skills, as well as your written and oral presentation skills. In the course Language and Communication in Africa, there is an extra accent on new forms of publication in visual, textual, audio and other formats.

  • Reflexivity and Methodologies in Africanist research: developing a joint research proposal in small groups, during which you practice your analytical and collaborative skills.

  • Economy, Geography and Society in Africa; guest lectures from practitioners from the world of business, media, NGOs, and diplomacy which are linked to academic lectures. Students get training and practice moderation skills. Also final essay and oral presentation by small groups.

  • Methods and skills in Africanist research: You will learn about and practice diverse qualitative and quantitative research methods and techniques.

  • Seminar Writing research proposal: step-by- step, you will write your own research proposal and learn how to set up a feasible research plan.

  • Research project: Fieldwork: during your sixth months of fieldwork research, you will practice all kinds of skills that are needed if you aspire an academic career but that are also very important in other professional settings: networking, research methods and techniques, self-reflexivity, problem solving, analytical skills etcetera.

  • Seminars Thesis writing and Academic publication: you will be guided in how to write a good academic thesis, as well as an academic publication, with a focus on analytical skills, argumentation, presentation, and originality.

  • Thesis Research Master African Studies: in your thesis, you will practice all the skills that you learned throughout the course of the programme.


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 071-527-2235, or with your coordinator of studies, Dr. Karin Nijenhuis.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Leiden Elective Academic Periodical - Special Issue #2 "Nature" 10