Programme syllabus

Master Programme in African Studies60 Credits

Programme code
Lars Berge
Approved by the Faculty Board Humanities and Languages, 20 November 2014.
Valid from Autumn semester 2015.

1. Objectives of the Educational Programme

1.1 Objectives, as Specified in the Higher Education Act (1992:1434), Chapter 1, 9 §:

Second-cycle courses and study programmes shall be based fundamentally on the knowledge acquired by students during first-cycle courses and study programmes, or its equivalent.

Second-cycle courses and study programmes shall involve the acquisition of specialist knowledge, competence and skills in relation to first-cycle courses and study programmes, and in addition to the requirements for first-cycle courses and study programmes shall:

- further develop the ability of students to integrate and make autonomous use of their knowledge
- develop the students‘ ability to deal with complex phenomena, issues and situations, and
- develop the students‘ potential for professional activities that demand considerable autonomy, or for research and development work.

1.2 Degree Objectives, as Specified in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), Appendix 2:

Knowledge and Understanding

For a Master of Arts/Science (60 credits) degree the student shall have:
- demonstrated knowledge and understanding in the main field of study, including both an overview of the field and specialised knowledge in certain areas of the field as well as insight into current research and development work, and
- demonstrated specialised methodological knowledge in the main field of study.

Competence and Skills

For a Master of Arts/Science (60 credits) degree the student shall have:
- demonstrated the ability to integrate knowledge and analyse, assess and deal with complex phenomena, issues and situations even with limited information
- demonstrated the ability to identify and formulate issues autonomously as well as to plan and, using appropriate methods, undertake advanced tasks within predetermined time frames
- demonstrated the ability in speech and writing to report clearly and discuss his or her conclusions and the knowledge and arguments on which they are based in dialogue with different audiences, and
- demonstrated the skills required for participation in research and development work or employment in some other qualified capacity.

Judgement and Approach

For a Master of Arts/Science (60 credits) degree the student shall have:
- demonstrated the ability to make assessments in the main field of study informed by relevant disciplinary, social and ethical issues and also to demonstrate awareness of ethical aspects of research and development work
- demonstrated insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used, and
- demonstrated the ability to identify the personal need for further knowledge and take responsibility for his or her ongoing learning.

1.3 Objectives of the Programme

- On completion of the Programme the student should:
- demonstrate deep knowledge as well as a theoretical and critical understanding of political, social and economic features of African societies from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present
- independently analyse the interplay between religion and politics in African societies south of the Sahara and apply and evaluate the results of the analyses of specific African countries and regions
- demonstrate an advanced theoretical awareness when analysing the relation between education and social change in African societies
- demonstrate a theoretical and critical awareness when analyzing gender related issues in African societies
- demonstrate a theoretical and critical awareness when analyzing the interplay between local factors, such as social, economic, political or religious spheres, and global influences
- demonstrate a deep knowledge of the historiographical development of Africa studies and a theoretical and critical awareness of how conceptual frameworks have changed up to the contemporary scholarly debates
- demonstrate a deepened capacity to analyse issues of continuity and change in African societies
- demonstrate a critical ability to evaluate different types of sources and a capacity to analyse a general research problem relevant for several countries to thereby, with a high degree of independence, formulate a research problem and communicate it orally and in writing in the form of a thesis.

2. Main Structure of the Programme

The Master Programme in African studies is made up of obligatory courses and a number of optional courses. The Programme is multidisciplinary and based in the humanities. The historical dimension is considered central for the understanding of contemporary African conditions. The Programme is based in the disciplines of History, Religious studies and Educational sciences. Throughout the first term the students follow The Dynamics of African Societies which includes two obligatory seminar series: one on African historiography and another on methods and theories, the latter is preparatory for the second term Master’s thesis. Religion and Politics in African Societies is taken during the first half of the term and includes obligatory seminars on the interplay between religions, society and politics mainly in Africa south of the Sahara. Education and Change in African Societies runs during the latter part of the term. The course Developing the Research Proposal comprises of an independently written assignment, preparative for the Master’s thesis of the second term.

During second term the students are free to choose any two optional courses, allowing for specialization and further developing of subjects dealt with in the first term. The number of optional courses given at any term will vary. The course Elaborated Research Plan includes a minor written assignment that aims to define the parameters of the impending thesis work. In the final course, Master‘s thesis/Research Paper, the student shall under supervision carry out an original piece of research that either could stand on its own or lead to a Ph.D research issue. The second term ends with the Thesis examination.

Throughout the programme, there is a progression of knowledge from the first term of more exploratory and comprehensive courses to the second term specialization in the optional courses, and, finally, the well-defined problem area and independently written essay. In terms of method and theory, there is a clear progression through the program. Theory and Method exercises become increasingly sophisticated and focused on the final Master‘s degree work. The program is taught in English.

3. Courses of the Programme

3.1 Obligatory Courses

1. The Dynamics of African Societies (African Studies) 12 HEC
This course takes up synchronic and diachronic approaches to African societies from the early 1800 up to the present. The structure of African economies; the principles of political organisation; the links between the individual and the collective; the natural resource base and the production and reproduction of material culture shall be the main issues of the course.

2. Religion and Politics in African Societies (African Studies) 9 HEC
This course introduces the course participant to the religious landscape of the continent. The various strands of Christianity, Islam and the basic tenets of African religions are identified and studied in the context of the economic, political and social environment. Important issues deal with how religions affect the political orientation of different societies, how religious encounters and conflicts arise and are resolved and what role religions play in the organisation of social, political and economic life.

3. Education and Change in African Societies (African Studies) 8 HEC
The course deals with education policies and the role of education in the development of African societies. The focus in the course is on the relation between education and social change. Indigenous knowledge and learning systems will be related to formal and structured education systems. The role of international aid in education for development in African societies will be discussed. Questions related to professional ethics and to the role of official curricula will be discussed.

4. Developing the Thesis Proposal (African Studies) 1 HEC
In this course the student will present a first draft research proposal. This involves the preliminary definition of a research concern, a general overview of the state of research, a preliminary objective with questions and a proposed first structure of the planned thesis.

5. Elaborated Thesis Plan (African Studies) 1 HEC
In this course the student will further elaborate a previously approved Research Proposal which includes the presentation of a Research plan with a definition of a research concern, an overview of the current state of research, the objective of the planned thesis including questions and structure.

6. Master’s Thesis/ Research Paper (African Studies) 15 HEC
The course begins with a seminar series for a review of the research process involving the choice of topic, concern, methodology and theoretical approach, literature search and the writing process. The student then carries out an independent research project in
a defined area related to African studies. The study is presented in the form of an independently written master‘s thesis about 10.000 to 15.000 words. The course also includes an examination with a written and oral presentation and the defence of the student’s own findings and arguments, as well as to analyse the work of others.

3.2 Elective Courses

1. Aid and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (African Studies) 7 HEC

2. Literature and Politics in contemporary Africa (African Studies) 7 HEC

3. Economic Development in Africa: An Introduction (African Studies) 7 HEC.

4. Egypt and the media (Arabic) 7 HEC

5. Egyptian-Sudanese Relations: The Geopolitics of Water Resources (Political Science) 7 HEC)

6. Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa (African studies) 7 HEC.

7. International Health Focusing Nutrition in a Gender and an Economic Perspective (African Studies) 7 HEC

8. The North African Short Story (Arabic) 7 HEC

9. Islam and Islamic Societies in Africa (African studies) 7 HEC

10. Language and Nationhood in African Multilingual Countries (African Studies) 7 HEC

11. The Modern History of Southern Africa (African Studies) 7 HEC

12. The Modern History of the Horn of Africa (African Studies) 7 HEC

13. Peace and Conflict in Africa: International Institutional Law (Political Science) 7 HEC

14. Urban Spaces and Urban Policies in Africa South of the Sahara (African Studies) 7 HEC

15. West Africa since the 19th Century (History) 7 HEC

4. Degree Awarded

Degree of Master of Arts (60 credits) Main Field of Study: African Studies

5. Required Entry Qualifications

  • Bachelor Degree of 180 credits in the field of Humanities, Social Sciences or Education and English B/6 from Swedish upper secondary school or equivalent knowledge. No knowledge of Swedish is required.