UCL African Studies Research Centre


CMII0003 - Research Methods in African Studies

Value: 15 credits
Tutor: Professor Kevin MacDonald, Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach, and various guest lecturers
Assessment: Portfolio and research proposal


This course will serve as a key practical training element in the African Studies MA/MSc. Lectures will include elements of quantitative analysis, Geographic Information Systems, archival work (including digital resources), academic ethics, ethnographic/ interview techniques, presentation skills and the construction of research proposals. The course will provide a firm foundation in practical research skills and encourage the use and understanding of interdisciplinary research methods.

Assessment will combine a portfolio of quantitative and presentation practical work (submitted on PowerPoint) with a mini-project wherein students will design a practice research funding proposal on a pathway specific topic.

Course outline:

1. Research Ethics
2. Introduction to Social Sciences Statistics
3. Surveys & Afrobarometer
4. Archival Research
5. Constructing Research Proposals
6. Oral History & Interviews
7. Ethnographic Techniques
8. Participant Mapping & Civilian Science
9. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
10. Visual Research Methods

Key texts:

  • Bates, R.H., V.Y. Mudimbe and J.F. O'Barr (eds) 1993. Africa and the disciplines: the contributions of research in Africa to the social sciences and humanities. Chicago, University of Chicago Press
  • Bodenhamer, D.J., Corrigan, J. and Harris, T.M. (eds). 2010. The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship. Bloomington, Indiana University Press.
  • Cahn, S. 2010. Saints and Scamps: Ethics in Academia. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Clegg, F. 1983. Simple Statistics: A Course Book for the Social Sciences. Cambridge, Cambridge university Press.
  • Clifford, J. and Marcus, E.E. (eds) 1986. Writing Culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkley, University of California Press.
  • Devereux, S. and J. Hoddinott (eds). 1992. Fieldwork in Developing Countries. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
  • Hill, M.R. 1993. Archival Strategies and Techniques. Los Angeles, Sage.
  • Mann, T. 2015. The Oxford Guide to Library Research. Oxford, OUP.
  • Ritchie, J., J. Lewis, C. McNaughton Nicholls, and R. Ormston 2013. Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. Los Angeles, Sage.
  • Taylor, S. (ed.) 2000. Ethnographic Techniques: A Reader. London, Sage UK.
  • Thompson, P. 2000. Voice of the Past: Oral History. 3rd Edition. Oxford, OUP.
  • Thomson, S., Ansoms, A. and Murison, J. (eds) 2013. Emotional and Ethical Challenges for Field Research in Africa. New York, Palgrave.
  • Vansina, J. 1985. Oral Tradition as History. Oxford: James Currey.
  • Wang. F. 2014. Quantitative Methods and Socio-Economic Applications in GIS. Second Edition. CRC Press.
  • White L., S. Miescher & D.W. Cohen (eds) 2001. African words, African voices: critical practices in oral history. Bloomington, Indiana University Press.