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Option courses

The option course is one of four key elements structuring the MPhil in African Studies programme. The other elements are the core course, the dissertation, and language training.

Option courses explore a specific theme in Africanist scholarship or examine the African continent from the perspective of a particular academic discipline. Such courses are usually taught across Michaelmas and Lent terms and their teaching format and structure varies according to what lecturers deem appropriate. Normally, they are taught in small seminar discussion groups (up to 15 students), for which readings are set in advance and preparation is essential. Classes can occasionally be supplemented by optional lectures, while option courses with larger class sizes may receive mostly lectures, in addition to a few seminar classes. This variation in teaching approach reflects the fact that many option courses are based in departments and faculties beyond the Centre of African Studies, giving you the opportunity to interact with students on different MPhil programmes.

You are asked to nominate your option course preferences shortly after the MPhil induction day in October. Although we aim to place students in their first preference course, this cannot be guaranteed. If you wish, you may inform the MPhil Office of your option course preferences in advance of arriving in Cambridge.

The option course is generally assessed by a 5,000-word essay (including footnotes, excluding bibliography). The option course essay counts for 20% of the final MPhil mark.

In 2017-18, a choice of four option courses is offered. Please note that there may be limited places available on some courses due to demand from other MPhil programmes.


Options running in 2017-18

Development issues in sub-Saharan Africa

Politics of Africa

Print Cultures in African History: Publics, Politics and Identities

Empires in Comparative Perspective


Related links

MPhil course lecturers

Submitting essays

Examination regulations