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Programs / Arts / African Studies

Program Details

Africa is the most culturally and geographically diverse continent on earth. The African Studies program offers you an opportunity to study the histories, cultures, languages, geographies, politics and economics of this fascinating continent. You will also learn about the aid, trade and investment, and migration flows that link Africa to the rest of the world in the era of globalization.

Students in the Combined Honours program can benefit from a work placement opportunity, a mentorship program and the chance to study in Africa through our African Studies Abroad course (in Ghana in May 2015) or by doing their third year at one of the African universities with which Carleton has exchange agreements.

Carleton University has one of the highest concentrations of Africanist scholars in the country, with nearly 50 professors from all faculties affiliated to the Institute. It also has exchange relationships with African Universities, including the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; the University of Ghana in Legon (Accra), Ghana; and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Carleton also has a number of active Africa-focused student groups which organize a variety of events.

As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is home to many governmental and non-governmental organizations involved with African issues, all of the African embassies and high commissions and a number of archival and library sources relevant to African studies. Since Ottawa is the hub of Africa-related activity in Canada, Carleton is able to draw an impressive list of guest speakers and provide students with rich volunteer and internship opportunities.

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

The Combined Honours program requires 7.0 credits in African Studies in addition to the requirements of the other discipline. A language requirement is also needed for this program. In addition to taking introductory Foundation courses, second-year courses in some of the regions of Africa and intermediate third-year thematic African Studies courses, students will choose courses in African history, politics, anthropology, literature and culture, and wider political, economic or cultural contexts before finishing with a capstone seminar in African Studies and an Honours seminar in an African studies topic.

Students in the Combined Honours program will have the opportunity to do a work placement with one of the many institutions in Ottawa working on African issues, or in Africa, as well as taking the African Studies Abroad course in the May term.

Bachelor of Arts (General)

The General program requires 6.0 credits in African Studies. In addition to taking introductory Foundation courses, second-year courses in some of the regions of Africa and intermediate third-year thematic African Studies courses, students will choose courses in African history, politics, anthropology, literature and culture, African diaspora, and wider political, economic or cultural contexts.

Students in the General program will have the opportunity to do a work placement with one of the many institutions in Ottawa working on African issues, or in Africa, as well as taking the African Studies Abroad course in the May term.

Bachelor of Global and International Studies (Honours Specialization)

In this multidisciplinary specialization you will study a wide range of issues as they apply to Africa, including democratization, human rights, international development, cultural change, migration and refugees, colonialism and postcolonialism, and social justice. You will also acquire an understanding of the larger issues of the politics of development and the relationship between the global north and south.

Minor in African Studies

The minor program requires 4.0 credits in African Studies, to be completed along with the requirements of your major discipline. Students will take introductory Foundation courses, second-year courses in some of the regions of Africa and intermediate third-year thematic African Studies courses. Students will choose courses in African history, politics, anthropology, and literature, culture, and diaspora studies.

First-year BA and BGInS students are strongly encouraged to include a First-year Seminar (FYSM) in their first-year course load. Our First-year Seminars will get you away from the lecture hall and give you the chance, in a small class of no more than 30, to discuss and debate topics with your classmates and your professors. You will also get early and frequent feedback on class assignments and instruction in research, writing and study skills. Although some FYSMs count as courses leading to a major, you do not have to choose a FYSM in your major discipline.

Workplace

African Studies prepares you for a wide range of careers including international development, foreign affairs, humanitarian aid work, journalism, policy analysis, research, education and business.

Graduate studies

Graduates of our Combined Honours BA program or our Honours BGInS program may go on to graduate studies in fields as diverse as those that contribute to this multidisciplinary program, such as political science, history, economics, sociology, anthropology, international affairs, cultural studies, geography and literature.

If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early and discuss your plans with faculty members to ensure that your program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including law, education and journalism, encourage well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply. African Studies provides a strong foundation for a number of professional programs and you are encouraged to pursue interests you may have in these fields after completing an undergraduate degree.

What students are saying about African Studies


The Institute of African Studies has given me diversity within my education. I have been lucky to participate in the study abroad course that went to South Africa to learn about healthcare, and an exchange year and placement course with a professor at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The opportunities and experiences are incredible!
Alana Dunbar, African Studies and English student