African Studies

Are you fascinated by Africa and passionate about its history and culture? African Studies at York focuses on issues of social, political, economic and cultural development from pre-colonial Africa to the present day. Majoring in African Studies will encourage you to grow intellectually beyond the confines of traditional academic learning. From inspiring political leadership to poverty, health issues, economic development and the challenges associated with it, you will discover why Africa is a continent of great historical and contemporary global importance.

Career Options in African Studies

This list is not exhaustive but provides an idea of the options graduates have and what they have gone on to do. Some options are more directly associated with a African Studiesdegree than others.

  • Activist
  • Ambassador
  • Author
  • Charity Director
  • Conservationist
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Community Worker
  • Documentary Filmmaker
  • Editor
  • Event Coordinator
  • Foundation Director
  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Foreign Services Officer
  • Fundraiser
  • Government Administrator
  • Historical Researcher
  • International Development Worker
  • Institutional Researcher
  • Journalist
  • Labour Relations Specialist
  • Lawyer
  • Legal Secretary
  • Legislative Aid
  • Lobbyist
  • Marketing Consultant
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Media Correspondent
  • Mediator
  • Non-Profit Sector Worker
  • Paralegal
  • Policy Researcher
  • Policy Advisor
  • Political Advisor
  • Politician
  • Population Studies Analyst
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Teacher
  • Writer

Some of these career choices may require additional education or preparation in the form of graduate studies, experiential education or professional formative courses and exams. For a more in-depth description of some of the careers mentioned above visit Career Cruising (login information can be found on the home page of the Career Centre's online system) or the National Occupational Classification website.

Skills Developed through an African Studies Degree

A background in African Studies ensures that you develop the skills and mindset to tackle many different professional challenges.

Core Skills

  • A deep understanding of the socioeconomic challenges facing African nations and the political issues challenging different countries of the continent
  • A knowledge and appreciation of the history and culture of specific regions
  • An introduction to the literature, prose and music of the continent
  • The ability to identify the obstacles hindering progress in some regions of the continent and the ability to work to create change through your efforts here at York and after graduation

Communication, Data Gathering and Organizational Skills

  • The ability to present your thoughts clearly and intelligently in written statements and opinion pieces;
  • The ability to learn new information and apply this to professional demands
  • The capacity to critically analyze problems, think creatively and make sound decisions while considering different sides of an argument
  • The skills to collect various types of information, assess them, analyze and incorporate potential linkages from different fields, put them into writing and efficiently convey your message and the goal of your work.

Management and Teamwork

  • The ability to interpret and analyze information presented by peers and efficiently and constructively support or challenge their proposals, theories, ideas and reports in order to achieve a project's intended and successful end result
  • The capacity to lead and interact with a variety of people with different approaches and personal and professional backgrounds
  • Skills enabling you to work effectively in group situations, partaking in decision-making, leading and contributing in various capacities to the ultimate success of the team and task
  • The ability to debate, persuade, mediate and present your thoughts and opinions to others, as well as the capacity to recognize and incorporate other potential solutions or applications to given problems
  • The capability to identify priorities and proper courses of action, to plan the execution of tasks and to determine and delegate responsibilities to group members to most effectively carry out projects

Professional Associations and Organizations

Knowing the industry and how to excel in it after receiving a degree are key elements of future success. University study sets up the building blocks you will need to develop and enhance your understanding and knowledge in your career. Being part of a professional organization or network and gaining further insight through training are excellent ways of increasing your knowledge of the field.