BA African Studies (4 Year)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

This 4-year degree focuses on the languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. It includes the study of an African language and a wide choice of modules in the related cultural fields of Literature, Art, Performance and Religion-Philosophy. It includes a year studying in Africa.

The languages normally available are Amharic, Hausa, Somali, Swahili, Yoruba and Zulu.

The range of expertise in SOAS, not only in the Africa Department but also with regard to languages and literature of other regions is unique in UK institutions. Along with proven excellence in other disciplines, such as religious studies, anthropology, art and archaeology, and history, this offers students an unparalleled range of options in choosing their second subject of study.


As a student specialising in the continent of Africa, you will gain competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature and culture (which can include literature, film, music, art and religion) of various parts of Africa. Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers in both business and the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • Amnesty International
  • BBC
  • British Army
  • Enchanting-Africa
  • Future Roots
  • Hanover Primary School
  • Hill and Knowlton
  • Institute of Education
  • LBTH
  • Oakfield school
  • Oxfam
  • Bayer CropScience
  • Save the Children

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

  • Television Executive Producer
  • Major
  • Operations Manager Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Consultant
  • Film Maker
  • Fundraising and Administration Coordinator
  • Tutor
  • Class Teacher
  • PR Consultant
  • Student Support Officer
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Principal
  • Tourism and identity in Reunion Island
  • Artist/ PR
  • Journalist


Students must take modules to the value of 120 credits each year.

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

Students who fail Language I are not required to continue with Language II in the second year. Students attaining 40-50% in Language I may be exempted from Language II, if they wish, after consultation with their Programme Convenor.

Degree title

If a student passes Language in Africa and 120 credits in one language then the language may optionally be named in the degree title, e.g. African Studies (Swahili). This option is available for Swahili, Hausa and Somali only. 30 credits may be an Independent Study Project in which the language is used to a large extent. If this is important to you, please discuss it with your Programme Convenor at the end of year 1 or the beginning of year 2 of your degree.

Year 1

  • Swahili 1 A
  • Swahili 1 B
  • Culture in Africa

Compulsory Module

  • Decolonising Otherness
  • Understanding Texts
  • Languages of the World
  • H110 Introduction to the History of Africa

Year 2

Core Module

  • Swahili 2a Intermediate

Compulsory Module

  • Introduction to Research
  • Language in Africa


Choose modules to the value of 45 credits from the list of guided options below.

Year 3 - Year Abroad

Students will study for one year at one of the partner institutions Kenyatta University, Nairobi or State University of Zanzibar. This will be 120 credits.

Students who don't wish to study abroad can do the BA African Studies (3 Year) programme.

Year 4

Compulsory Module

  • Theory and practice of Swahili translation
  • Independent study project in African studies


Choose a module(s) from List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits

and either

Choose a module(s) from List of Modules below to the value of 30 credits


Open Options

Choose related Language or Non-Language open option modules to the value of 30 credits

  • Language Open Option Modules
  • Non-Language Open Option Modules

List of Optional Modules

Before selecting a module, student's must first check that the module is at the correct level. They must also ensure that they meet any pre-requisites.

  • Amharic 1 A
  • Amharic 1 B
  • Amharic 2
  • Hausa 1 A
  • Hausa 1 B
  • Hausa 2(a) intermediate
  • Hausa II(b) Survey Of Hausa Literature
  • Hausa 3(a) advanced
  • Hausa III(b) Selected Texts
  • Somali 1 A
  • Somali 1 B
  • Somali 2
  • Swahili 3
  • Theory and practice of Swahili translation
  • Yoruba 1 A
  • Yoruba 1 B
  • Yoruba 2
  • Zulu 1 A
  • Zulu 1 B
  • Zulu 2
  • History of Slavery: Britain and Slavery
  • African Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Decolonisation
  • Black Urban Studies
  • Contemporary African literature
  • Film Festivals and Film Curating
  • The structure of Bantu languages
  • Religion in Africa
  • R210 Religion, Power, and Society in Modern Africa
  • Extended essay in African studies (a)
  • Extended essay in African studies (b)
  • The World of Cuban Music
  • African language literatures (oral and written)
  • Realism and Magical Realism in the African Novel
  • Sci-fi and Afrofuturism in the African Novel
  • Southern Spaces
  • Fictions of History
  • Independent study project in African studies
  • Directed study of an African language

Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

To apply for an undergraduate degree at SOAS (including students wishing to transfer from another university) you must apply through the UK's central universities application organization, UCAS. An application form and details of courses can be found on their website. UCAS charges an applicant's fee for handling the application.

You can apply to up to five choices of higher education institutions or course on the UCAS form. How you utilise the choice is up to you. In other words, you could apply to do the same subject, for example, economics, at five different universities, or five different courses at the same university, or any combination of subject and institution. Nor do you have to use up all five choices. Whatever you choose you should list your choices in the order they appear in the UCAS handbook.

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).

  • Interview Policy: Applicants with non-standard qualifications may be invited for an interview.
  • A-Levels: AAB-ABB
    IB: 35 (665 at HL)

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

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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