African Historiography and Approaches to History

African History Project – African Boy with Musket

This powerful and comprehensive course introduces students not only to the history of Africa, but to the history of “African history”.

The first part of the course looks at how the telling of Africa’s historical narratives has changed with time, from the oral traditions of antiquity to those of the modern day; from 14th century epics in Arabic, to 20th century masterpieces in vernacular languages and English. This is an essential exploration of the history of the continent and its people, providing a brilliant introduction to over 600 years of African history writing and recitation.

The second half of the course steeps itself in current historical practice – how should we study Africa’s past today? Considering important tools such as oral history and philosophical concepts such as pan-Africanism and post-colonialism, this part of the course forces students to think critically about how to tell robust and authentic African histories.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students are expected to understand:

  • the place of history in African societies;
  • the reasons why civilisations invest time, money and human capital into the study of history;
  • what Africans and others have written about African history from antiquity to the present day;
  • how historians engage with African historical narratives today.



Apeike Umolu is the founder of the African History Project. She is an educator and historian with over 15 years of experience supporting students in the attainment of academic excellence. Specialising in African history, she is a passionate historian and has undertaken historical studies at the University of Oxford. She researches extensively on West African political history and is working on her first book On Black Consciousness.


Course Outline

  • Module 1: What is History – Introduction to African Philosophy of History
  • Module 2: Why do we do History? – Introduction to the Psychology of History
  • Module 3: How have we done History? – Introduction to African Historiography
  • Module 4: How should we do history? – Introduction to Approaches to African History

Couse Delivery and Assessment

This course is delivered through online learning via video lectures, knowledge questions, critical readings and seminars. The course should take 10 – 12 weeks to complete. Students work at their own pace and will have access to course materials for 12 weeks from enrolment. 

Students are also encouraged to attend any public lectures and seminars that take place in the School while they are enrolled.

The course is assessed by a 1000-word essay and an exam.


On successful completion of the course, participants will be issued with a Certificate of Completion and be eligible for an academic reference. 

Course Aims

The course aims to give students a robust understanding of the building blocks of historical practice in the African tradition. Philosophy, psychology and historiography are used to help students think more critically about the role of history and professional historians in our society. The course challenges students to understand the unique treatment of African history in world intellectual discourse and the opportunities this provides for aspiring Africanists.


Course Title: African Historiography and Approaches to History

Type of Course: Short Course

Department: African History

Duration: 12 weeks

Format: Online, Recorded Lectures, Public Lectures, Individual or Group Seminars

Assessment: 1000-word essay (50%), 1-hour open-book exam (50%)

Course Features

  • Lectures 13
  • Quizzes 0
  • Duration 12 Weeks
  • Skill level All levels
  • Language English
  • Students 8
  • Assessments Yes