What’s it like to do a PhD in African History?
PhD students of African History are expected to engage in a range of historical sources and secondary literature. You’ll be asked to identify a primary source base and contribute to existing historiographical discussions with your informed interpretations.
Some popular research topics in African History include:
- Africa in the Atlantic world
- Political history
- Religious history
- State formation
- Violence and inequality
In addition, students may wish to focus on the culture or society of specific countries in certain time periods.
Most African History doctoral programmes require applicants to propose their own research project. This will then form the basis of your work for the duration of the PhD. By the end, you will have produced a thesis of around 75,000 words to be defended in an oral viva exam.
Some students will apply for an advertised PhD project in African History, though these are less common. Often advertised PhDs involve researching a historical site, theme of current political interest or a particular source base.
During the PhD you will likely spend your time analysing historical texts, discussing your ideas and progress with your supervisor and sharing your research with colleagues. Depending on the availability of your sources you may be required to travel to historical archives. This could involve research trips to Africa. Many PhD students will also have the opportunity to teach undergraduate students.