African History Project - Family Sitting at Table Return to Department of
African History
Foundation Certificate in
African History
A world-class course in African History ENROL NOW

Master the histories of Africa and Africans


Explore the events that shaped the development of politics and society in Africa


Engage with oral traditions and written history to decipher events and give life to the figures of Africa’s past


Understand the contributions of African leaders and movements to the proliferation of humanism, republicanism, and democracy across the world

Master the skills to write robustly and critically about African history

Develop vital critical analysis skills as you map the development of African consciousness

Hone your ability to conduct research into how historians have and continue to explore the African experience

Learn to write critically and confidently on African history and appreciate the values and challenges of various approaches to African history

Course Outline


1 Year | 4 Courses | Live Seminars | 4 Essays

  • Start date: rolling, open for registration
  • Seminars: Saturdays, 7pm – 8pm (London), Live on Zoom
  • Lectures: Pre-Recorded, supported by curated reading lists, knowledge questions and tutor support
  • Assessment: 4 x 1000-word essays

The Foundation Certificate in African History is for students with an interest in how African societies have been shaped over the last 300 hundred years.

In this engaging and insightful programme, students will explore the political history of Africa, mapping the rise and fall of empires as well as the emergence of modern nation states. Students will dive into civil and military society, exploring the movement of people, the changing of religions and the development of national consciousness. 

Students will be supported to take a Pan-African and multidisciplinary approach to the programme as they engage with oral histories, written sources, music, photography, and poetry to map the development of modern African societies. 

Programme Structure

The Foundation Certificate includes the following components:

Each Course Core is examined by essay and the Seminar Series is examined by attendance and participation. Seminars are live interactive sessions held on a weekly/bi-weekly basis during term time. Students are expected to attend all seminars while enrolled on the Foundation Certificate.

Core Course 1: African Historiography and Approaches to History

This course is taught through the short course, African Historiography and Approaches to History.

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.

Core Course 2: The Making of Africa - Statecraft and Suzerainty in the 19th Century

The period covered by this module included some of the most ambitious state-building campaigns the continent had ever seen.

From the rise of the Asante in the west and the ascendency of Tewodros II in the East, to the rise of Shaka and the Zulus in the South, new nations and systems of governance emerged across Africa in this dynamic century.

The 19th century saw some of the most ambitious state-building campaigns the world has ever seen as charismatic rulers consolidated power and forged nations. 

But why did they all fall?

In this exciting and engaging course, students will explore the impressive rise and fall of three key nation-states across Africa. Using a range of primary and secondary sources, they will investigate how these nations altered the political, social and physical landscapes of their regions, re-shaping political relationships and establishing new economic connections. 

In particular, through discussion and debate, students will consider how these states interacted with outside forces through war, trade and diplomacy, and how this would go on to affect the rise of foreign power on the continent.

Dynasties were born in this period; this course will explore how and why they rose and fell.

Core Course 3: Resistance and Rebellion in the African Colonies

The second half of the 19th century saw increasing foreign economic suzerainty across the continent. This was followed by political, social and cultural suzerainties of various degrees as the century closed and the 20th century began. In this module, students will look at how communities across the continent conceptualised of the growing foreign influence and how they responded.

By considering both the resistance of leadership to usurpation and the resistance of populations to foreign suzerainty, students will gain an understanding of patterns of individual and collective actions which limited foreign incursions into the continent. Students will explore not just political resistance but also how societies across Africa responded to the effects of colonisation on language, religion, and the position of women.

The module also consider the emergence of pan-African ideals by exploring the contributions of Africans from the diaspora to the resistance, particularly in West Africa. They will also explore the link between this, the missionary movement and the rise of new African intellectualism, and how this new intellectualism shaped and directed resistance and rebellion, laying the foundations of the nationalist movements of the 20th century.

Core Course 4: The Politics and Economics of Colonisation

This module will focus on the methods, systems and structures of colonisation. Focussing on the British sphere of influence, students with map the politics and economics of territories under British administration.

This will begin with gaining an understanding of the different “colonisations” that took place on the continent, from the settler communities of the south and east, to indirect rule in the protectorates of West Africa, and the full colonies of the continent such as Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast and Lagos. The aim is to decipher the semantics of imperialism to gain a lucid understanding on what “colonisation” looked like on the ground; how political, economic, religious and cultural colonial campaigns interrelated; the role of new African intellectuals in the colonial world; and how concepts of “modernity” should be considered in light of the colonial experience.

Students will also explore the economics of colonisation, gaining an understanding of the African and global stakeholders in the colonial economy, how colonisation was funded and how value was extracted. The module will take an integrated approach to economic enquiries, considering the place of individual colonies with the global economy, as well as the place of all colonies within the African economy. Students will look at how and why colonial economies differed across the continent, including a consideration of natural and built topographies, existing systems of governance and trade, and the patterns and nature of resistance.

Core Course 5: African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism

The 20th century saw the rise of African nationalism and the growing influence of pan-African ideals from across the Black world in continental affairs.

Considering events on the continent and in diaspora, students will not just map the rise of nationalist sentiment, but will consider the rise of the structures that nurtured that sentiment such as the growth of colonial military, campaigns for universal and higher formal education, the growth of the press and the development of party political discourse.

The module will consider contemporary debates around the methods of decolonisation and the forms that new nations should take, including an exploration of tribal and national identities and debates around federalism and con-federalism.

Continental and diasporic ideas about pan-Africanism will be considered, allowing students to consider African nationalism within the global Black experience. This will involve a look at the intellectual history of the period as well as a study of the men, women and movements through which independence, nationalism and pan-nationalism were conceptualised and delivered.

Core Course 6: The First Republics

From socialist republics to free market capitalist states, Africa’s new nations of the 20th century were as varied as they were numerous. The task before them was great – how to build modern nations on an intellectual, bureaucratic, industrial and military base that was less than one generation old.

Students will explore the nature of the new republics, the internal political and structural challenges they faced, and what factors determined whether they were able to survive their first generation. This will include an exploration of attempts made to develop national sentiment, how the multiplicity of religious and cultural sentiments were treated in the law, and the role of regional and continental multilateral organisations in shaping the first republics.

The module will also explore the external challenges faced by Africa’s new nations including the inequities of world trade, persisting and growing notions of Afrophobia and negrophobia, and the budding shoots of neo-colonialism. How did Africans conceptualise of these internal and external challenges? What contributions did these new republics make to our understanding of constitutions, authority, democracy and the African spirit? These are just some of the questions student will consider in this module.

Students will take Core Course 1 plus three further Core Courses.

* please note, not all modules run every quarter

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Foundation Certificate, students will have an understanding of:

  • the chronology of political developments across the continent during this period;
  • the rise and fall of various nations in response to internal and external pressures;
  • the changing nature of inter-African and international trade and their effects on the African and wider world economies; 
  • the rise of new African intellectualism;
  • the emergence of modern African nation states.

By the end of the Foundation Certificate, students should have acquired the ability:

  • to conduct research into an area of historical debate, including the use of online digital archives;
  • to chart the course of political and social developments across an expanse of time and space;
  • to comprehend and analyse complex historical subjects;
  • to engage with the historiography of the period;
  • to write critically and confidently about historical events.


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.

Programme Aims

This Foundation Certificate aims to give students an overview of the political developments in Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a particular focus on the events that facilitated the rise of modern African nation states, allowing students to understand the African antecedents and propellants of modernity.


The lectures are delivered on an online learning platform through recorded video lectures, and supported by curated reading lists, knowledge questions and tutor support. 

To find out more about our lectures, please click here.


Seminars are delivered live on Zoom on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. Students need to attend and participate in all the seminars held while they are enrolled. 

To find out more about our seminars, please click here.


Students have 12 months from registration to complete the required core courses, attend the seminars, and submit the assignments. 


  • 4 x 1000-word essay
  • Seminar attendance and participation

To find out more about our Assignments click here.


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

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the entry requirements for the Foundation Certificate?

There are no entry requirements however students should have passion, the necessary time to commit to study, the commitment to take part in seminars, and complete assignments.

What is the deadline for application?

There is no deadline as applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Will I be invited to an interview before a decision is made on my application?

There are no interviews to gain admission to our Foundation Certificates.

How do I apply?

All applications are submitted via our online portal. Please click on the enrolment button on each course page.

Is the Foundation Certificate full time or part time?

The Foundation Certificate is offered on a part time basis.

Do I need to provide a reference or personal statement?

There is no reference or personal statement required to take a course at the African History Project.

What level of English do I need to complete the course?

We recommend that a candidate have at least Intermediate English Proficiency (B2 on the Common European Language Framework) to complete the course.

Can I pay in instalments?

Yes, candidates can make payment in instalments. Please see the course page.

Is there any financial assistance available?

The African History Project does not provide financial assistance for the Foundation Certificates at this time.

I am not based in the UK, does this matter?

Our courses are delivered online using video lectures and live seminars as well as making use of digital archives and audio-visual resources to enhance the learning experience and widen access to Black historical study at the highest of levels. Hence there is no need for physical presence in the UK in order to take the course.


Apeike Umolu
Director and Lecturer
African History Project - Apeike Umolu

Study Black history constructively

We teach the histories of Black peoples in their entirety, as experienced by Black peoples not solely European engagement with or interpretations of those peoples giving students an authentic understanding of Black cultures

We champion the work of Black historians and primary sources from Black historical figures including the use of oral histories, poetry, art, artefacts and music to explore Black ideas of self and community

We have a pan-African approach to the study of Black histories allowing students to explore the influence of and impact on contemporaneous global Black experiences

Online Study

Our online courses make use of digital archives and audio-visual resources to enhance the learning experience and widen access to Black historical study at the highest of levels.

Expert Tuition

Our lessons have been designed by experienced lecturers and tutors in consultation with historians to ensure that they are engaging, critical and informative.

Video Lectures

Our video lectures provide robust introductions to topics and support students as they work through readings and engage with the sources.


Students receive a certificate of completion and full transcript on successful completion of the course and are eligible for an academic reference.