Africa Thesis Award

The award | Who can apply The thesis | Subject of the thesis | Quality of the thesis How to submit a thesis | Time schedule The jury

Are you interested in Africa and is your master's thesis on a related subject? If so, the African Studies Centre Leiden is offering you the chance to win € 500,-. Moreover your thesis will be published in the ASCL's African Studies Collection.  

The award

The award aims to encourage student research and writing on Africa and to promote the study of African cultures and societies. It is presented annually to a student whose master's thesis has been completed on the basis of research conducted on Africa. The award consists of a prize of € 500,- and publication of the winning thesis in the ASCL’s African Studies Collection. All theses submitted will be made available fulltext online via the ASCL’s library catalogue. The prize has been made possible financially by LeidenASA.

Who can apply

Final-year students who have completed their master's thesis at a university in Africa or the Netherlands between 1 June 2020 and 31 August 2021 can apply. For the thesis, students must have received at least 80% or a Dutch rating of 8. Students from non-Dutch universities who have grade A or similar may also apply if the accompanying letter from the supervisor confirms and supports the grade score.

The thesis

The thesis has to be based on independent empirical research related to Africa in one of the subjects listed in the following section and must have been examined in the twelve months prior to the deadline. The thesis can be submitted if it is written in English, French or Dutch. If the thesis is in Dutch, a five-page English or French summary should also be attached.

Subject of the thesis

Any thesis thematically related to socio-geographical, economic, political, juridical or anthropological issues or focusing on the humanities, such as history, religion and literature, can be submitted. Its geographical focus should be Africa or its migrant communities elsewhere in the world. The thesis must be socially relevant.

Quality of the thesis

The ASCL seeks to attract theses that stand out in terms of subject matter and demonstrate a sound methodological approach. The jury attaches importance to an original approach and insight, and to the relevance of the research to a scientific understanding of the issues covered. In addition, the jury will consider the significance of the thesis in relation to development-related issues, its style and readability and its interest for the general public.

How to submit a thesis

If a student or his/her supervisor feels that his/her master's thesis merits an award because of its quality and originality, the thesis may be submitted. Every submission must include:

  • a digital version of the thesis
  • a summary of the thesis (max 300 words)
  • a signed letter of recommendation from the student’s supervisor containing the grade and details of the quality of the thesis and the educational institution from which the student has graduated

Applications that are not complete will not be processed. All documents can be sent to

Time schedule

The deadline for the submission of theses is 1 September 2021. More information on the upcoming competition will follow soon. The prize is presented to the winner during the annual LeidenASA meeting in December, where the winner will present his/her thesis.


The following experts are in the Jury of the Africa Thesis Award (tbc):

  1. Dr Ir Lotje de Vries (Wageningen University and Research) (Chair)
  2. Dr Ir Yves van Leynseele (University of Amsterdam) 
  3. Dr Abdourahmane Idrissa (African Studies Centre Leiden)
  4. Prof. Dr Margriet van der Waal (University of Amsterdam).
  5. Marnix de Bruyne (freelance journalist).

For more information or queries regarding the submission of a thesis, contact the Secretary of the ASCL Awards Committee, Rik Jongenelen through The jury's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.