Africa Studies: At the cutting edge of critical thought

Is it truly necessary to study Africa through an independent programme at an African university? African content and debates have surely already been made part of existing academic programmes at universities on the continent. The reality, however, is that in-depth and systematic intellectual engagement on African dynamics remains neglected.

Where the study of Africa is prioritised, the engagement has followed an ad hoc arrangement or is narrowly viewed through the lens of pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial historical epochs. The burning question addressed in Africa Studies is - why do many of the ills of the colonial era linger in the postcolony, albeit in different guises? We tend to forget that the ‘post’ in postcolonial is a deceptive marker of time that masks persistent forms of injustice. In the words of the famous novelist and playwright William Faulkner: "The past is never dead. It’s not even past." Therefore, any form of contextualisation needs to be cognisant of both temporal and spatial dynamics. Translated into our engagement with postcolonial Africa and Africa Studies this means that any current deeper analysis will have to consider and reconcile history and the present within the spatial dimensions of societies for an assessment of the complexity of daily life and the reproduction as well as future of these societies.

In the light of this, the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) at the University of the Free State (UFS) offers postgraduate programmes (Honours, Master’s and PhD) founded on more than the mere inclusion of a so-called ‘Africa’ focus. Since African experiences and expertise have not traditionally played a role in the development of mainstream disciplines, Africa Studies therefore prioritises knowledge production and academic contestation in multiple disciplines pertaining to Africa through the critical lens of postcolonial theory.

The scholarship at the Centre for Africa Studies is situated in an African context and developed in direct response to the material and social realities of our immediate environment. Knowledge and social realities are constructed and integrated and should therefore inhabit a shared interdisciplinary epistemological space.

Africa Studies, as an emerging discipline, are aimed at cultivating the analytical capacities of students by drawing on the insights of multiple disciplines such as political science, international relations, anthropology, development studies, environmental studies, history, rural development and media studies, among others. The aim is to address the burning issues related to Africa by posing questions and developing answers that transcend disciplinary divides.

While the Centre for Africa Studies is committed to continental and global engagement, it is also resolved to focus on establishing and maintaining strong and sustained interaction with local communities, as well as fostering regional research partnerships. The centre’s academic programme is founded on the premise that the future of the continent lies within its own borders and people.


For more detailed information regarding our programmes, please follow the links below:

Who should apply?

All individuals who find themselves in a position which requires extensive knowledge of the essential issues surrounding Africa, its people and institutions, as well as those that have a genuine interest in the rebirth of Africa and a passion for its advancement.

Admission requirements

The Postgraduate Programme in Africa Studies comprises honours, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The general admission regulations of the university regarding postgraduate study apply conjointly with the following rules:

  • A B-degree or four year diploma with relevant majors grants admission to the honours degree, which runs over a period of one year.
  • An honours degree or any other equivalent qualification(s) with relevant course content (minimum of 128 credits) renders admission to a structured master’s with course work, where half the credits are allocated to a mini-dissertation. The structured master’s runs over a period of at least one year.
  • An honours degree or any other equivalent qualification(s) with relevant course content of at least 128 credits including a mini-dissertation of at least 32 credits renders admission to a research master’s with a dissertation of 192 credits as requirement. The research master’s runs over a period of at least one year (full-time).
  • A master’s degree or an equivalent qualification in accordance with the general admission requirements of the university is the minimum requirements for the PhD.

Note: The detailed admission requirements for each qualification are included in the complete application packages.

Application procedure

Prospective students should contact our offices directly for further information. This can be done through email, telephone or a visit to our offices. The application package comprises two sets of documents, which must be completed in order to apply for admission into the programme. These documents are the CAS as well as the university application forms (included in the complete application packages).

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Application forms must reach the CAS office before 30 November of the preceding year and must be addressed to the Programme Director, Dr Stephanie Cawood.

Physical address for visiting/courier/delivery

Centre for Africa Studies
President Steyn Annex Building Office 140 or 142
Senaat Street North
University of the Free State
Bloemfontein Campus
Nelson Mandela Avenue 205
Park West

Mailing address

Centre for Africa Studies (IB110)
University of the Free State
PO Box 339
South Africa

Method of instruction

The programme utilises semi-distance education. Students enrolled in the taught courses (honours and structured master’s) are required to attend contact sessions on the Bloemfontein Campus four times a year. These sessions are compulsory and students who do not attend all sessions will forfeit their place in the programme. Examinations at master’s level can be written at external centres in accordance with the university system.

Complete application package

Follow the links below to the complete application packages for each qualification:



T: +27 51 401 2240
Marica Coetsee: +27 51 401 2369
Mrs Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592
Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Nhlamulo (Lucky) Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3519
Juanita du Plooy: +27 51 401 3269

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