Postgraduate study

African Studies PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: African Studies

The Centre of African Studies offers a PhD programme with an international reputation, awarded from one of the world's leading universities.

Since its foundation in 1962, the Centre of African Studies (CAS) has expanded research activities from its core disciplines of history, politics, social anthropology and education to include many other fields, including:

  • law
  • business and management studies
  • sociology
  • gender studies
  • environment and development
  • religious studies

Usually undertaken full-time over three years, or part-time over six years, the PhD in African Studies is an interdisciplinary research degree in which you will make an original contribution to our knowledge of Africa by pursuing an extended and focused piece of research on a topic of interest to them.

The Centre of African Studies is supported by the Graduate School of Social and Political Science, which enables students to acquire a broader set of transferable skills during their studies.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDAfrican Studies3 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2022/23
PhDAfrican Studies6 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2022/23

The Centre is a recognised Economic and Social Research Council outlet, which means that our teaching and training has been quality assured at a national level.

You will be encouraged to participate in taught Masters level courses to assist your intellectual development and support your research, including offerings from a suite of research training courses.

Student seminars and workshops

Throughout the year our students organise informal peer-review seminars where you would have the opportunity to present your research proposal, fieldwork plans, chapter ideas, etc. This provides a friendly forum in which students can exchange ideas about theoretical and practical aspects of their work with others who are going through or have recently gone through the same process. CAS students have also been involved in the organisation of substantial research workshops.

The city and the University have superb resources for the study of Africa.

The National Library of Scotland has major collections relating to Africa, especially through the Church of Scotland’s mission papers.

The University Library has built up one of the finest collections of African studies texts in the UK.

Through the UK’s Standing Conference on Library Materials on Africa, the library additionally has an obligation to maintain collections on Zambia and Malawi.

CAS organises weekly seminars for visiting scholars and holds an annual international conference.

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDAfrican Studies3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDAfrican Studies6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

For specialised guidance on submitting a competitive scholarship application, we strongly recommend you contact the Postgraduate Advisor for your Subject Area. You should advise which scholarships you intend to apply for and send your draft research proposal. The Postgraduate Advisor will then contact you with guidance.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
11 September 2023 30 June 2023

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

You must submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research, which will be closely scrutinised as part of the decision-making process. We request that PhD research proposals are no more than four A4 typed pages in Times New Roman, 12pt font. This includes charts and figures but does not include references or a bibliography.

We require PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD