African Literature

The Master of Arts in the field of African Literature is a 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time degree.


This is a programme for those wishing to specialise in African Literature in English. The course is concerned with the intellectual place of Africa in the world and examines black intellectual traditions across the continent and the diaspora.

African Literature at Wits is the only department of its kind in South Africa and has, over the past three decades, produced high calibre graduates who have gone into research, publishing, journalism, creative writing and academic careers.

We examine a wide range of African cultural forms, their transmission and their transversal of geographic, cultural, political and disciplinary boundaries.

Our students adopt perspectives that take seriously our location in southern Africa while also taking into account the global relevance of African literary practice.

Staff members offer courses which explore critical, theoretical, and historical issues, as well as problems of representation in the broadest sense.

This kind of approach expands the field of literature to include a wide range of cultural practices from canonical texts of African writing to artefacts of visual and popular culture, revealing the role literature in its broadest sense plays as a form of exchange and expression. Our commitment to high quality is reflected in one of the highest rates of postgraduate student research publication among literature departments in the country.

Our course offerings include African Popular Media and the Novel; Critical Approaches to African Literature; Memory, Violence and Representation in Africa; Contemporary Trends in African Literature; Narratives of the Indian Ocean; Writing Slavery in the African World; and Feeling, Sentiment and Sensation.

Entry Requirements

Masters by Coursework and Research Report:

  • A bachelors degree with honours from Wits or another university, in a literature or media studies-related discipline with a 70% total mark aggregate.

Masters by Dissertation:

  • A bachelors degree with honours from Wits or another university, in a literature or media studies-related discipline with a 70% total mark aggregate.
  • A supervisor from the Faculty of Humanities must be identified and approached prior to application.

Masters applicants need to have attained at least 70% for their Honours degrees.

PhD applicants are required to have attained at least 70% for their Masters in a literature or media-studies related discipline on the Wits grading scale, the comparable international grade being an upper-second class pass on the UK scale or a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 on the US scale.

Applicants who do not have the required qualifications in a literature or related subject, but who have demonstrated considerable research interest in African literatures must contact the department before submitting their applications. Such applications shall be reviewed in line with the Wits policy on the Recognition of Prior Leaning (RPL).

Required Documents

The following documents are required for postgraduate applicants to the department:

  • Certified copy of degree certificate/s
  • Certified copy of academic transcript/s
  • SAQA evaluation or proof of application for such evaluation (for international applicants and South African students who have studied abroad)
  • Proof of English proficiency (for international applicants, unless medium of instruction was English)
  • Concept paper (for MA by dissertation and PhD applicants only)

Applicants may also be required to submit a CV, a sample of written work (an undergraduate term essay, an Honours research essay, or MA dissertation/research report as appropriate), a writing portfolio, and academic references.


All postgraduate applicants are required to contact the departmental administrator, Mrs Merle Govind before and immediately after the submission of an application. This is to enable the department to track the application, to make requests for outstanding documents, or to notify the applicant of any additional requirements.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.