African Studies links
African Studies

Africa is home to around 1.5 billion inhabitants in 54 countries, with a wide range of cultures and languages. As a continent it plays an increasingly important role in the global arena, with a major impact on issues such as climate change, economy and international relations. In the African Studies bachelor’s programme you will gain in-depth knowledge about Africa, from an internal perspective, with a critical eye for the external often euro-centric approaches of ‘Africa’.

You will have the choice to study Africa as a continent, its individual regions or its individual countries, exploring a wide range of topics, including literature and art, politics, economic developments and technological innovations. African history from zero to the very recent past takes a central place within the curriculum, allowing you to study how, for instance, slavery still impacts Africa and its inhabitants today.

Language plays an important role in the programme. Studying Africa through a linguistic lens will reveal important aspects of past and present developments. Moreover, it will also tell you a lot about social inequalities. In this programme, you will have the opportunity to learn either Swahili or Berber. Swahili is one of the main languages of Eastern Africa. Berber, spoken in Northern Africa, is a language that is linked with many African diaspora-communities across the world. As such it plays an important part in the African Diaspora component of the programme.

As you cannot become an expert on Africa without ever having visited the continent, a stay in an African country is part of our programme. Our graduates find that this programme is the perfect preparation for a further academic career or for entering the job market.

Lisette Meulman

Lisette Meulman

'I chose to study African Studies in Leiden because I am passionate about Africa. It is the place to be there are so many ideas, exciting developments, so much creativity and entrepreneurship. Much of this is just not acknowledged outside of the continent. I have learned a lot about various cultures and ethnicities within African countries, which has helped me to adapt my communication skills to various situations. This kind of knowledge has proved to be very useful in my professional work environment, as well as in daily life.'

Curriculum: African Studies

African Studies 2023 vs 2

Why African Studies?

  • Leiden is the only place in Europe where you can follow an English-language BA programme on African Studies.

  • In this programme, you will learn Berber or Swahili. As part of the language acquisition courses, in your second year you will stay an entire semester in an African country of your choice.

  • The programme’s four pillars, African Languages, African History/Histories, African Developments, and African Diaspora, allows you to study Africa in-depth.

  • You will gain not only expert knowledge about Africa, but you will also develop valuable skills, including digital academic skills.

  • You will be able to tailor the programme according to your interests, focusing on your disciplinary choice, a particular theme, Africa as a continent or a particular region or country.

  • We have a close connection with the renowned African Study Centre, which has the largest library on Africa-related topics in Europe.

Cutting-edge research

African Studies is taught by internationally renowned lecturers who belong to the top of their field. Their teaching is closely linked to their research projects, which means that as a student, you will be in touch with the latest developments in this discipline.

  • Some examples of interesting research projects:
  • Radicalisation in the Sahel countries (Prof. Dr. Mirjam de Bruijn)
  • African history, including oral history and slave songs (Dr. Anne Marieke van der Wal)
  • Berber street language in the Netherlands (Dr. Khalid Mourigh)

Your future career

Upon graduating, you will not only possess valuable knowledge on Africa, but you will also have gained professional and personal skills that are sought after by employers.

You can work, for instance, in:

  • Journalism
  • Media
  • Museums
  • Tourism
  • Policy adviser in the public sector
African Studies rechts

Location: Leiden


year programme, 180 ECTS


English-taught programme established


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