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African History


Students whose PhD major field is African history should take 12 to 18 credits of course work in African history, including, if possible, one seminar in the history of the region in which they specialize. In their other seminars, students should master African historiography and the theories and methods with which African history has been studied for all chronological periods by taking seminars at the 6000 level. They should also take at least one 6000-level seminar in a thematic area of African history. Students must write three research papers, based on primary sources, before taking qualifying exams; these need not all be written in graduate seminars in African history, but those that are not must be approved by the student’s committee.

Because the historiography in African history is not equally extensive for all topics, and because the historical and ethnographic background required to study a specific area is so great, students may want to strengthen their grasp of regional histories either by taking a graduate “trailer” on a 3000-4000 level course in the history or ethnography of a region, or through an independent study in which a student does intensive reading in regional history or ethnography, so long as his or her advisor consents.

Students are encouraged to select their Departmental Inside Minors and Outside Minors to complement their research interests. UF offers great expertise in the study of African politics, culture, literature, and geography, and students are encouraged to take graduate courses in a field that enhances their knowledge of Africa and strengthens their research project.

The oral prospectus defense in African history is of great importance. It is designed as an intensive discussion of the student’s research proposal, a version of which will be the proposal with which a student seeks to fund doctoral research in Africa; to this end students should craft their proposals in a 6000-level research seminar or, in consultation with the chair of their committee, take 3 credits of independent study to develop a proposal.

Qualifying Examinations

Through written and oral qualifying examinations, doctoral students will show themselves professionally competent in the field of African history. The oral examination should also cover the research project, the development of which is essential to advancing to candidacy in the field.