The Master’s degree in African Studies combines disciplinary, thematic and application-oriented modules. The programme is distinguished by its decidedly interdisciplinary nature which fosters comparison among different scientific approaches as well as a wide variety of methods. The central disciplines are history, anthropology, sociology, political science, religious studies, environmental sciences and epidemiology. In addition, transdisciplinarity is promoted by integrating practical knowledge from outside the university and introducing students to applied research fields.
Students combine courses in the various modules according to their interests and profile. The courses are complemented with individual field research projects, collective excursions or non-university internships.
The study programme comprises the following modules:
Module “Introduction to Interdisciplinary African Studies”
This introductory module conveys the interdisciplinary and epistemological foundations for African Studies in their historical context, and provides space to critically reflect on these. It promotes the ability to do independent research and evaluate publications and sources from and about Africa. Students acquire the ability to recognize the theoretical and methodological challenges in the production of knowledge related to Africa, and to use these insights as a resource in their own scientific and practical applications. A total of 6 credit points must be obtained. The module consists of the Lecture with Colloquium: Introduction to African studies (3 CP) and the Exercise: Writing Workshop (3 CP), in which students will become familiar with the specific standards of scientific work and the Africa-related resources (libraries, archives and collections) locally available in Basel.
In these modules, students are taught the basics of scientific engagement with Africa from the perspective of different disciplines that have a long tradition in the production of knowledge about Africa. The Basics module has the following specific objectives:
- Imparting the subject, as well as specific research questions of the contributing disciplines, particularly in relation to the African continent
- Imparting a thematic overview of the contributing disciplines
Students must earn a total of 10 CP. Compulsory are 2 CP each in the modules Environment and Epidemiology. Students earn an additional 2 CP each in three of the following five modules: Sociology, Social Anthropology, History, Politics or Religion.
The five thematic and interdisciplinary Fields modules are based on the research axes of the Centre for African Studies, ensuring the connection to the doctoral level and to current research activities.
- Media and Imagination: How are ever more visually-oriented information and communications technologies changing societies in Africa? What fears, hopes, goals and dreams of people are articulated in media and images?
- Knowledge Production and Transfer: How is knowledge in African contexts generated, focused, negotiated and passed on? Do cities form a hub for the emergence of an African knowledge society?
- Governance and Politics: How is political rule reproduced in a rapidly changing context? How are the everyday practices of political administration and services arranged in Africa?
- Public Health and Social Life: What are the challenges in the health care sector in Africa? How do people deal with health systems? What is the basis of their resilience?
- Environment and Development: How do environmental factors of global change impact the built environment? What requirements have to be met for sustainable use of urban and rural habitats?
Students specialize in two of the five Fields modules, to which their two Master’s Exams will correspond. They write a seminar paper worth 5 CP in each of the two chosen modules, and their Master’s Thesis in one of those modules. The two seminar papers serve as a preparation to the Master’s Thesis and should therefore be written within the first two semesters.
A total of at least 30 CP are acquired through the five Fields Modules. At least 6 CP must come from courses offered by the Faculty of Science, and at least 9 CP must come from courses offered by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Module “Interdisciplinary and Applied African Studies”
This module honours the programme’s interdisciplinary claim through an intense and focused exchange between different disciplines within the framework of a Research Seminar (3 CP) as well as a Research Training course (5 CP) focusing on a project, in which lecturers and students collaborate. An Exercise in professional skills (3 CP) strengthens the ability to apply the acquired knowledge in practice. Excursions, internships or courses combined with guided independent study may substitute the Research Training. In total, students must earn at least 11 CP in this module.
Module “Research Skills”
This module imparts research skills, and, in the frame of the African Studies Colloquium (3 CP) in particular, offers guidance to students who prepare their Master’s Thesis. The questions formulated here should lead to research projects that aim at either basic or application-oriented knowledge. In the frame of an additional disciplinary Colloquium or Seminar (2 CP) taught by one of the supervisors of their Master’s Thesis, students have the opportunity to discuss their preliminary findings. In addition, two Exercises (each 3 CP) impart skills for qualitative and quantitative data analysis. In total, students must earn at least 11 CP in this module.
For a detailed description please consult the study guidelines (English translation) for the Master of Arts in African Studies, the Regulations of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Basel for Master Studies, and the Study Plan for the Master of Arts in African Studies issued by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Basel.