Children walking in arid African landscape

African studies research

Explore our work in African studies, one of our 5 areas of expertise in Area Studies

Our research focuses particularly on North and West Africa. With West Africa continuing to struggle with conflict, and security across the region still a pressing concern for governments in West Africa and beyond, there's growing demand for research and knowledge on these under-represented issues, particularly in the West African Sahel.

But at present, there's limited availability of this knowledge. Our African studies research aims to rectify this, by transforming our expertise on a number of different regions and countries of Africa – across the disciplines of history, sociology and international relations – into impact.

Our research is developing new thinking and knowledge exchange on the twin pressures of development and security in the West African Sahel, and helping develop solutions to the problems of development and security in the region.

At a moment in time when Africa is diversifying its relations with the rest of the world – away from a focus on the countries of the Global North – we're also exploring decolonial approaches to the study of Africa and peace and security in West and Central Africa.

We have the largest collection of library resources on Francophone Africa in the UK and a very significant collection on EU-Africa relations.

Our research covers the following key topics

  • Francophone (French-speaking) Africa
  • European-African relations (including France-Africa, UK-Africa, Belgium-Africa relations)
  • Decolonial approaches to African studies
  • Peace and security

Partnerships and funders

Much of our multidisciplinary research work is conducted in collaboration with our academic partners around the world. Recent projects have seen us collaborate with institutions such as the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) at the University of Ghana, the Université du Québec á Montréal, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Governance Centre, Oslo.

We've also received more than £500,000 of funding for our research work from major funding organisations, including The Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the European Commission.

Publications and projects

Our work is regularly published in leading academic journals within the field, including the Journal of North African Studies, the International Journal of Francophone Studies, and the Journal of Modern African Studies.

Project highlights

Discover our areas of expertise

African studies is one of 5 areas of expertise within our Area Studies research – explore the others below.

American studies

We're exploring questions around the powers of the state, and the fight for civil rights in and beyond the context of US politics and society.
Capitol building, Washington DC, USA
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European studies

We're studying societal change, the institutional and legal dynamics of the EU and its member states, and Europe’s global political role.
row of european flags
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French studies

Through our research, we're exploring the politics of France and French-speaking countries in the world.
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Russian studies

We're learning about the issues on the EU's eastern borders, and how the UK and EU should react.
Russian city skyline at dusk
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Research groups


Francophone Africa Research Group

We're researching the legacy of French colonialism and the changing relations between France and the Francophone world.


Interested in a PhD in Area Studies & International Development?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Area Studies & International Development postgraduate research degrees page.