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The Institute of African Studies (IAS) is the first and oldest semi-autonomous research institute of the University of Ghana, Legon. It was set up in 1961 by Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, as a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary institute with the mandate to conduct research into all aspects of the arts and the social sciences in Africa.

The Institute carries out this mission by engaging in the regeneration of Africa and her people through knowledge production, dissemination, application and preservation. The IAS mission is geared towards a vision of becoming a global leader for scholarship on Africa and her Diaspora.


To become a global leader for scholarship on Africa and her Diaspora.


To engage in the regeneration of Africa and her peoples through knowledge production, dissemination, application and preservation.

The graduate programme in African Studies aims to foster critical thinking among students and to equip them with the resources, tools and methods for an enhanced understanding and appreciation of issues pertinent to African cultures and societies and their development, and to be able to initiate and conduct research in different domains of African Studies. All students are admitted on MA basis and those who excel in the First year course work continue as M.Phil Students.

MA and M.Phil students are offered the same courses with the exception of Seminar II (AFST 650) which is offered to M.Phil students in the second year.

The Courses available for study are the following:


Course CodeCourse TitleCredits
AFST 601Research Methods4
AFST613 Social and Political Systems in Africa 3


Course CodeCourse TitleCredits
AFST 603Theories of Development in Africa3
AFST 605Government and Politics in Early Post Independent Africa3
AFST 607Africa Oral Literature: An Introduction3
AFST 609 Drama in African Societies3
AFST 611African Literary Traditions3
AFST 615Traditional Religions in Africa 3
AFST 617Traditional African Music3
AFST 621African Historiography and Methodology 3
AFST 623The Slave Trade and Africa3
AFST 625Coastal States in Ghana in the Seventeenth Century3
AFST 631 Culture and Gender in African Studies3
AFST 633Survey of African Art3
AFST 641 African Family Studies 3

SECOND SEMESTER ELECTIVE COURSES                                            

Course CodeCourse TitleCredits
AFST 602Advanced Research Methods3
AFST 604Issues in African Development 3
AFST 606The Military in African Politics 3
AFST 608Topics in African Oral Literature3
AFST 610African Theatre 3
AFST 612 Trends in African Literature3
AFST 616Islam and Christianity in Africa3
AFST 618African Music in Contemporary Perspective3
AFST 622Ghana since 1945 3
AFST 623The Slave Trade and Africa3
AFST 624History of Pan- Africanism3
AFST 626Colonial Rule and African Responses3
AFST 628Islam and Christianity in Africa3
AFST 632Gender and Development in African Studies3
AFST 634Methodologies for Constructing Art History in African Societies3
AFST 636Rural Development, Environment and Modernity in Africa3


MA/M.Phil students are required to participate actively including making presentations at the Institute’s seminars.

AFST 640                   Seminar  I

AFST 650                   Seminar  II


Total minimum credit hours required to complete the graduate course in African Studies are as follows:


Course Work 25 credits
Seminar3 credits
Dissertation12 credits
Total Minimum credits required40 credits

M. Phil

Course Work 25 credits
Seminar I3 credits
Seminar II3 credits
Thesis30 credits
Total Minimum credits required61 credits


All students in a Department or Programme at this level are expected to attend all seminars specified and be made to give at least one seminar on a review article which, may or may not be in their area of intended research.  This should be in the first semester.

In the second semester, each student should make a presentation on his/her dissertation proposal and also attend all seminars at the Department.  Both presentations should be graded using a common format designed and should earn each student a total of 3 credits.


Introduction to African Studies

This course introduces students to the field of African Studies including Africa’s histories, peoples and cultures. It begins with a general introduction to the discipline, its history and values; continues with an introduction to Gender Studies in Africa; and thereafter students select from an extensive and diverse menu of ‘electives’. While all students take the general introduction and the introduction to gender, students are registered into the electives that they will take in the second half of the semester.

The general introduction serves as the springboard from which to launch the entire course.

Objectives of the course:

  • To help students appreciate the contemporary value of African Studies as an area of enquiry.
  • To help students engage with discourses on African realities.
  • To encourage students to appreciate the African Identity.
  • To help students develop a sense of Self Determination in the global world.
  • To make students aware of the negative stereotypes about Africa and to encourage them to challenge these stereotypes.
  • To help students develop appropriate methodologies and frameworks for examining Africa and its past through multi-disciplinary approaches.
  • To highlight some of Africa’s contributions to world civilizations and knowledge generation.
  • To enhance students’ knowledge in specific areas of African Humanities and Social Sciences

The overall introduction covers three weeks, including two hours of lectures, and one hour of tutorials per week.

Introduction to Gender

The main objective of this two week introduction (four hour), is to help students appreciate the gendered nature of African societies, how this impacts development, and state as well ascivil society responses to gender inequalities. Thiscomponent explains key concepts in African gender studies and explains why and how we address gender issues in African studies. This component of the course also makes a case for transforming gender relations on the basis of three justifications: (1) citizenship rights and the constitution, (2) development imperatives, and (3) the promotion of gender equitable cultures. The role of individual and group agency and leadership in changing gender relations will be highlighted.

The introduction to gender covers three weeks, including two hours of lectures, and one hour of tutorialsper week. Also included is a practical activity, typically a film show.

At the end of the first 6 weeks students take part in a continuous assessment exercise.

Elective Component

In the second half of the semester students join one of 19 pre-selected “elective” classes, each of which is described below. An examination for each of these is carried out at the end of the semester.


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