There are many good reasons to study Africa. For anyone wishing to engage with the continent on a deeper level, the traditional formulas are for the most part inadequate. A single discipline can no longer cover or express the multiple demands faced by anyone dealing with Africa and its people. Where the usual interpretations fail, new knowledge is needed. In Basel, a wealth of such knowledge has been developed over decades and consolidated at the Centre for African Studies Basel (ZASB). Since 2002, the Centre offers a specialized interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in African Studies. The program draws on the social sciences, humanities and the natural sciences. Key thematic fields are media and imagination, knowledge production and transfer, governance and politics, public health and social life, and environment and development.
Focal areas of teaching and research
The goal of the MA in African Studies is to equip students with in-depth knowledge and skills for an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scientific examination of Africa. Against the backdrop of the Centre’s particular interest in African cities and the rapid urbanization process underway on the continent, the program focuses on five thematic key areas:
- Media and imagination: How is the increasingly visual orientation of information and communications technologies changing societies in Africa? What fears, hopes, goals and dreams are expressed in media and images?
- Knowledge production and transfer: How is knowledge generated, concentrated, negotiated and passed onin African contexts? Are cities a hub for the emergence of an African knowledge society?
- Governance and politics: How is political rule reproduced in a rapidly changing context? How are the everyday practices of political administration and services arranged in Africa?
- Public health and social life: What challenges does healthcare face in Africa? How do people interact with health systems? What is the basis for their resilience in crisis situations?
- Environment and development: How do environmental factors of global change impact on the built environment? What conditions must be met to ensure sustainable use of urban and rural habitats?
The individual modules include courses from a variety of disciplines. Central among them are history, social anthropology, sociology, political science, theology/religious studies, environmental sciences and epidemiology. Moreover, the degree program features regular contributions from disciplines such as literature studies and linguistics or gender studies.
By combining and comparing these different approaches, students develop a scientific understanding of the dynamics and historical evolution of the social and natural environment, the health situation, and the living conditions of people in different regions of the continent. Students are exposed to a wide variety of scientific methods. Furthermore, transdisciplinarity is promoted by introducing students to applied research fields and leveraging practical knowledge from outside the university.
Students are admitted with a bachelor’s degree (BA/BSc) in one of the subject areas or fields of study listed in the study program of the MA in African Studies. The program has a strong emphasis on the social sciences. Foundational knowledge in a social science discipline and prior experience and knowledge of the African continent are advantageous, but not a requirement for admission.
Once an application has been submitted through the Student Administration Office, it is assessed by the African Studies teaching committee, which may stipulate additional admission requirements. The final decision by the President’s Board is conveyed by the Student Administration Office.
Advice on admission requirements is available from the ZASB executive office.
A master’s is a second degree that a person can earn after completing a bachelor’s and requires 120 credit points (CP) in total. The Master's Degree Program in African Studies is a single-major degree, which means that no other subjects are studied to achieve the 108 CP. Free electives (12 CP) are also included. One ECTS credit point equates to approximately 30 hours of work.
Master’s admission requirements
Admission to master’s programs is regulated by the university student regulations and the stipulations of the individual degree program descriptions. More details of the general master’s admission requirements are provided here.
For students to be admitted with no additional requirements, they must hold a bachelor’s degree worth 180 CP from a higher education institution recognized by the University of Basel.
Subject-related requirements are defined in the admission requirements (section 3) of the study program for the relevant subject. The guidelines may also contain further useful information that is key to successful studies.
The University of Basel organizes regular information events for bachelor’s and master’s programs. Details can be found on the events page of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Some subject areas also offer their own separate information or welcome events. Please consult the page for the relevant subject area for event dates and locations.
Master’s examination & degree
Deadlines and dates for master's studies (see data sheets at Dokumente und Merkblätter)
From the fall semester 2019, the revised framework regulations for the Master of Arts will apply. Registration for the master's thesis is independent of registration for the master's examinations. It is now also possible to examine only one subject per session, i.e. the two master's examinations can be divided into two sessions (attention: only for master's degree subjects, it is not possible to separate the two examinations for study programs). New registration deadlines apply for the master's examinations, these have previously taken place at the same time as the registration for the master's thesis.
From the registration in spring semester 2019 onwards, the same acceptance and submission date (last date of the registration deadline) will apply to the master's thesis for all students.
|Semester takeover, submission||Takeover FS 2018, submission FS 2019 (old / new Master's regulations)||Takeover SS 2019, submission SS 2020 (old / new Master's regulations)||Takeover FS 2019, submission FS 2020 (new Master's regulations)||Takeover SS 2020, submission SS 2021||Takeover FS 2020, submission FS 2021||Takeover SS 2021, submission SS 2022|
|Registration form available from|
|Application Master’s thesis|
|expired||expired||05.05. - 20.05.201||03.11. - 19.11.20||04.05. - 20.05.21|
|Submission of Master’s thesis confirmation form||expired||by 27.02.20 at the latest||by 08.10.20 at the latest||by 25.02.21 at the latest||by 26.08.21 at the latest||by 25.02.22 at the latest|
|Review submission by lecturers||expired||19.06.20||18.12.20||18.06.21||17.12.21||17.06.22|
|Notification of grades||by 31.01.20 at the latest||by 31.07.20 at the latest||by 31.01.21 at the latest||by 31.07.21 at the latest||by 31.01.22 at the latest||by 31.07.22 at the latest|
|Review inspection||14.01. - 13.02.20||16.06. - 13.08.20||19.01. - 12.02.21||15.06. - 12.08.213||18.01. - 17.02.22||14.06. - 18.08.223|
Master's examinations for students of the degree subject and program
|FS 2019 (old / new Master's regulations)||SS 2020 (old / new Master's regulations)||FS 2020 (new Master's regulations)||SS 2021||FS 2021||SS 2022|
|Application forms (degree subject / program) available from|
|Application deadline for examination|
17.09. - 26.09.19
|18.02. - 27.02.20||15.09. - 24.09.20||02.03. - 11.03.212||21.09. - 30.09.21||22.02. - 03.03.22|
16.12. - 20.12.19
|25.05. - 29.05.20||14.12. - 18.12.20||31.05. - 04.06.21||17.12. & 20.12. - 23.12.21||30.05. - 03.06.22|
|Notification of grades||13.01.20||15.06.20||18.01.21||14.06.21||17.01.22||13.06.22|
Application for MA degree documents
|Semester||FS 2019||SS 2020||FS 2020||SS 2021||FS 2021||SS 2022|
|Application deadline for degree|
14.01. - 13.02.20
|16.06. - 13.08.20||19.01. - 12.02.21||15.06.-12.08.213||18.01.-17.02.22||14.06.-18.08.223|
1 21.05.2020 is a public holiday (Ascension Day).
2 SS 2021 begins only on 01.03.2021 (Carnival holidays: 22.02. - 26.02.2021).
3 Please note the summer break of the Student Administration Services.
All data subject to subsequent changes.
The program prepares students for what is a relatively young scientific field in Switzerland, and an emerging international labor market. This market calls for a wide range of specific, Africa-related knowledge and skills that are not usually taught in a connected fashion in university education, and are prerequisites for further professional training.
Combined with appropriate internships, trainee positions or further education programs, the MA in African Studies offers a gateway to the following professional fields: multilateral and bilateral organizations, migration and integration, museums and exhibitions, archives and libraries, governmental and non-governmental development cooperation, commissioned research and consulting, environmental projects, diplomatic service, tourism, business, research, journalism and intercultural communication. In addition, the master’s degree provides access to doctoral studies.