With an African Studies degree, students are given the opportunity to study a very important culture and how African culture has been used in Western-society, both for its benefit and for its detriment.
What is an African Studies degree?
An African Studies degree will look at the culture of Africa, the history and the language. With an African Studies degree, students will be able to dive into the continent’s rich and diverse culture. The culture of African has been adopted in many ways across Europe, which has benefitted certain aspects and has been to its detriment as well, which will give students a chance to engage in debates and discussions surrounding African culture.
The history of the continent is of particular importance as well, given how much of a change to the rest of the world the history of African has brought about. Here, you will learn about important figures in African history, such as Nelson Mandela, among others.
Another important aspect that an African Studies degree offers students is the chance to explore the different dialects, regions, accents and how the languages of Africa are shaped by different regions.
Students can also study an African Studies online degree as well. With the advent of Zoom classes, distance learning and the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has grimly revealed a lot of universities' lack of general preparedness, students can now study this degree online with no issues.
What can I do with an African Studies degree?
A degree in African Studies opens up a wide range of different jobs that you can potentially take on as a result of your degree.
Many students with an African Studies degree become a Translator. Before you become a Translator, you will need to have a qualification type in this sector as well, like the LNAT, as well as another appropriate degree. This career is dependent on you being fluent in at least two languages, generally English and whatever language you are translating, however, having an understanding of a culture is another vital part of the job as well! Showing sensitivity and respect to a culture is just as important as the words you translate, especially as this can have an impact on the pronunciation and the impact of the wording.
Another common career path is to become a Teacher. Becoming a Teacher requires students to have also obtained a PGCE degree. Teaching is actually a very good use of the degree, not just as an African Studies teacher, but also in other areas such as Geography or Cultural Studies.
Lots of students also look into potentially becoming a Journalist as well. Journalism these days is looking to become more culturally aware and more sensitive to the different issues that affect different regions of the world, so having an African Studies degree will be very important for reporting on stories that affect the region and also how issues are handled back home too. It’s silly to think that an understanding of African culture is not in anyway relevant to issues that affect the UK.
It’s also very common to find work in the government as well. A lot of MPs and Politicians don't necessarily have a degree that is related to their overall job, however, their understanding of the subjects they studied are invaluable to them, and having an African Studies degree under your belt is vital, especially when it comes to community-relations.
What A Levels do I need for an African Studies degree?
University entry requirements always change depending on the university you go to. Most universities will insist on having a Mathematics and English A Level, but the other subject will entirely depend on the university. Some may ask for Geography, some may ask for Science and some may ask for another English-based subject.
As for grades themselves, this too depends on the university, but it is generally expected that students have around an AAB-ABB level prior to applying, though it is best to check in with the university you're applying to beforehand.
How will I be assessed for an African Studies degree?
Assessments tend to vary depending on the university and the criteria they have, but an African Studies degree will mainly be theory-based. Some universities may have practical elements, but for the most part, you will be working with theory only.
You will be asked to write dissertations, maybe sit exams, coursework, controlled assessments and one-on-one tutorials with your course tutor as well.
It is also likely that there will be a number of field trips. These may be trips to African nations or even trips to local embassies to gain an understanding of the geo-political approach they undertake there. If unforeseen events such as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic enforces a restriction on travel, then you may visit museums, embassies and more instead.
What skills will I learn with an African Studies degree?
All degrees give students a good opportunity to learn new skills as well as develop old skills as well.
Your written skills will see a big improvement. As this degree is mainly theory-based, you will need to get ready for a rather large amount of writing. Writing skills are important in all aspects of life, but in this particular degree, you will need to have sensitivity when writing, an ability to communicate findings, ideologies and theories in a sensitive and thoughtful manner will take you much further than you think.
Communication is somewhat linked into writing, but also in general. You need to be able to communicate what you find and how you found it, but you also need to be able to debate in a reasoned manner and discuss things with students in a way that is sensitive to the culture you're discussing and also factually accurate. You will also need to be able to leave detailed instructions for group work as well.
Collaboration is another vital skill for life and it is no different with this degree either. Collaboration to discover new elements of a culture, research-based projects or even collaborative pieces require good communication skills (see above) and an ability to work well with others. Independent study is all well and good, but communication is at the forefront of an African Studies degree.
Research is another important aspect of an African Studies degree. Not even just for the culture you're researching, even in general, good research skills are vital and no one likes being made a fool of as they speak about something that turns out to be wrong because they didn’t do their research. Research skills give you a good chance of being able to create a very cohesive argument, a very important viewpoint and also arms you with knowledge for whatever it is that you're doing.
Will an African Studies degree get me a job?
No job guarantees anyone a job, but there are important jobs that you can find with an African Studies degree.
Many students, with any kind of degree, usually find themselves having to do a fair amount of unpaid internships. Don’t worry, this is common for virtual all students when leaving university, as graduate jobs are hugely competitive, even at the best of times.
If you found any work at all while doing your degree, maybe as part of a work placement, then we recommend using any contacts that you develop as a result of it.
Regina Belle, the renowned singer, when back to university in 2015 and graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor's degree in Africana Studies and Angela Bassett, star of What's Love Got to Do with It? and Black Panther, studied a degree in African-American studies in 1980 from Yale University too.