Africa ca. 1812

Programs of study

The history of Africa can be studied at the University of Basel within the Bachelor’s and Master’s program in history. A certificate for the specialization in African history can be acquired within the Master’s program in History. Moreover, African history is part of the interdisciplinary Master’s program in African Studies which is coordinated by the Centre for Africa Studies in Basel (CASB).

Topics of study

The study of African history contributes to a deeper understanding of social change in Africa by focusing on different case studies and on the basis of critical readings of written, oral, and/or visual documents and sources. Our aim is to introduce students to the interconnectedness of history in Africa over the longue durée and to raise their awareness of the complexity and variety of social, cultural, political, and economic processes on the continent. We particularly stress the internal dynamics of African history, which we understand, at the same time, as a history of transnational relations within Africa and between Africa and other parts of the world, especially the African diaspora and the Indian Ocean. The engagement with African history is an interdisciplinary endeavor. Along with social and cultural history approaches, African history is also inspired by the fields of anthropology, sociology, cultural sciences, gender studies, literary criticism, and archaeology.


While our lectures and introductory courses provide overviews of broad thematic fields in African history, the seminars and exercise courses focus on specific topics. In seminars, we also encourage students to work with innovative theories and primary sources. Our undergraduate and graduate students thus often use the extensive collections of the archive of the Basel Mission (Mission 21) and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien for their research. In our weekly “research seminar in African history” senior students - along with international guest speakers - present and discuss their current research. We also organize study trips, which provide students with hands-on experience of the continent. In addition to the courses taught by our core faculty, we regularly invite African history scholars from outside of Basel to teach courses on thier field of speciality.

The medium of instruction in introductory courses and seminars is German and English; courses for advanced students are usually taught in English.