BA African Language and Culture

Programme Code: T508 BA/ALC

Duration: 4 years. Students will spend a period abroad depending on which African language they have chosen

Alternative Entry Requirements:

  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: No preliminary knowledge of the subject or the language is required, although we do look for the ability to learn a language (e.g. language at A-level or equivalent). Applicants with non-standard qualifications may be invited for the interview.

Subjects Preferred: No

Interview Policy: Candidates with 'non-standard' qualifications usually invited

Mode of Attendance: The Africa Section of the School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics houses the world’s largest concentration of scholars devoted to the study of African languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. This collective expertise gives us an unparalleled capacity for teaching, learning, and research. The language offered at the degree level (BA African Language and Culture) is Swahili. Students of Swahili spend two terms of year three in Zanzibar and Kenya.

In the first year, the programme's major component is the intensive study of Standard Swahili, and two wide-ranging modules on Culture in Africa, and Language in Africa.

The second year continues the study of Intermediate Swahili, and, at the same time introduces the student to Swahili literature. Two additional modules are chosen from the list of approved optional modules.

The third year of the programme is spent at an African university in Kenya or Tanzania, where students study Swahili in its context and write an extended essay on a suitable topic of choice during that year. In the final year study of language and literature is continued at the advanced level. In addition, the freedom to select two other appropriate modules from the list of options gives students the opportunity of specializing in a field of particular interest.

Language degrees are four-year degrees, but students pay reduced fees for the language year abroad.


The major language available for this degree is Swahili, other languages may be taken as part of the degree (see List of Optional Modules). Students must take 120 credits each year according to the syllabus.

Students must pass at least 90 credits in order to proceed to the following year, including any core modules.

Year 1 Core Module

  • Swahili 1 155900985 (30 credits) Full Year

Compulsory Modules

  • Language in Africa155900867(30credits)Full Year
  • Culture in Africa 155900838 (30credits) Full Year

Open Option

Choose a related module from another department

Year 2 Core Module

  • Swahili 2a Intermediate 155900986 (30credits) Full Year

Compulsory Module

  • Swahili 2b - introduction to Swahili literature 155900987 (30credits) Full Year

Compulsory Module

  • African language works of literature (oral and written)155900677(30credits)Full Year
  • Contemporary African literature 155900839 (30credits) Full Year

Open Option

Choose a module from the list of optional modules or an open option.

Year 3: Year abroad

Please see the Teaching & Learning tab for more details.

Year 4 Compulsory Module

  • Swahili 4 155900636 (30credits) Full Year Not Running 2017/2018
  • Theory and practice of Swahili translation 155901259 (30credits) Full Year

Compulsory Modules

Choose modules to the value of 2 units from the list of options

Open Option

Choose a module from the list of optional modules or an open option.

Year abroad

The third year of the BA Swahili and Another Subject or BA African Language and Culture is spent in Kenya and Tanzania at the following institutions where students are taught by experienced local lecturers and guest speakers, with oversight by SOAS Swahili Year Abroad Convenor. Students are also taken on local tours of places of cultural and historical interest at little or no additional cost. Year Abroad programmes run from September to May of the following year and involve 20 to 25 hours of instruction per week. While the syllabus differs somewhat from one institution to the other, the prime focus throughout is on enhancing the students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in Modern Standard Swahili, as well as knowledge of the local varieties of Swahili language, culture, and society.

  • Term 1: Zanzibar State University (Tanzania)
  • Term 2: Kenyatta University (Kenya)
  • Term 3: Students are free to spend Term 3 anywhere in East Africa but there will be no teaching during that term.

During Term 3 students are expected to write an ISP (Independent Study Project) of 3500 words in Swahili, on a subject of their choice. The essay must be sent to SOAS Swahili Convenor by the last Friday of Term 3.

In order to be admitted to the final year of their degree students will need to have passed the assessments at the year abroad institution, and to have attained a passing grade on their ISP which will be marked by SOAS Swahili Year Abroad Convenor. Students will be encouraged to use feedback to revise and prepare the essay for possible publication.

Students who fail the year abroad examinations or fail to submit their ISPs are deemed to have failed the year abroad.

Teaching & Learning

Teaching is normally provided by lecture or seminar and students are required to attend such classes. Most modules involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated January 22, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
4 years
9,250 GBP
Full-time UK/EU Fees: £9,250; Full-time Overseas Fees: £16,907 per academic year
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