Bachelor African Studies

In today’s globalised world, Africa plays an increasingly important role in international social and cultural developments. Would you like to explore the many sides of Africa and its impact on the rest of the world, while also learning one of its languages? The African Studies BA programme at Leiden University will give you a truly multidisciplinary perspective on the continent. 

Why 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 is a key player in issues such as climate change and global economy, while its arts and literatures increasingly gain international acclaim. In the African Studies bachelor’s programme you will acquire in-depth knowledge about Africa, from an internal perspective and with a critical eye for the external, often euro-centric approaches of ‘Africa’.

Multidisciplinary programme

African Studies is a multidisciplinary programme in which you will be introduced to many humanities-based disciplines, all working together to study and understand Africa. These disciplines include history, linguistics, anthropology, area studies and literature and cultural studies. This means that you will gain experience in collaborating and communicating with various disciplines, which is a skill that is much sought after in today’s complex world. You will also find that the ability to analyse economic and political issues from a humanities’ perspective is much appreciated.

African history from zero to the very recent past takes a central place within the curriculum. This will allow you to gain an understanding of issues such as the role of gender within African society, social inequality and slavery in the past and the present, and the relation between the African diaspora and the Black Lives Matter movement. In our programme, you will have the choice to study Africa as a continent, its individual regions or individual countries. In the second year of the programme, you can tailor the programme according to your personal interests by focusing on one or several of our themes: Sociolinguistics, Literature & Art or History & Anthropology.

Language plays an important role in the programme, as studying Africa through a linguistic lens will give you an insight into past and present social developments, such as  migration movements. Apart from studying sociolinguistics, you will learn either Swahili or Berber. 


In your second year, you will spend a semester in an African country, developing your language skills, while also doing an internship at a company or organisation based in Africa or study at an African university. We have good connections with the University in Accra and work closely with Leiden University’s Morocco institute in Rabat, but we can also help to arrange a stay in another African country, including a region where Swahili is the main language.

Read more about the Bachelor African Studies.


Tim Sanders (study coordinator)

Photo credit: Photo: Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank via Flickr. Photo cropped for the ASCL website (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).