Level of education: Master’s programme

Type of study: Full-time

Duration: 2 years

Language of instruction: English

The master’s programme ‘Languages and Cultures of Africa’ is designed for those who are interested in studying African languages, history, regional and ethnic characteristics, culture, modern social and political development, and art and literature.

Students can choose from two of four African languages: Amharic, Swahili, Bamana or Hausa. In addition to practical African language skills, students acquire a substantial theoretical basis for future research in various fields of the humanities related to Africa.

During the training, students acquire an in-depth knowledge of the laws of a particular language. They become familiar with the largest linguistic schools and the main academic literature, and master the methods of general linguistics in describing African languages.

Graduates of the programme may be much in demand for work in leading academic centres, international organisations and commercial companies. The benefit of this programme is the comprehensive set of courses in African languages and cultures.

Full description

Programme Mission

The programme is aimed at training specialists with an in-depth knowledge in the field of African culture in its various aspects. The graduates of the programme will be ready to continue their academic career in the largest scientific centres of Paris, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Moscow and St Petersburg.

The curriculum of the master’s programme is highly relevant not only to the graduate Africanists, but also to those who are experts in other fields, but are interested in acquiring an in-depth knowledge in African cultures.

Our graduates are much in demand in: diplomatic missions; international organisations (e.g. United Nations Organizations, International Committee of the Red Cross, etc.); and companies dealing with Africa.


Key Skills

Knowledge of the ethnolinguistic situation in the region and ability to understand the multicultural environment; basic knowledge of African languages


Entering Research and Professional Community

Our students have an opportunity to take part in the regular biannual conference on African studies and many other international conferences on special topics dealing with Africa.

The programme works in close cooperation with such organisations as:

  • Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera);
  • INALCO and LLACAN (Paris);
  • Universität Hamburg; the University of Helsinki;
  • the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Dar-es-Salaam;
  • American University of Nigeria;
  • Gazprom-Nigeria.


Key Features of the Programme

St Petersburg is one of the few academic centres in the world where there is a university department, research institutions, and a museum collection devoted to Africa. The Department of African Studies is the oldest university department of African Studies in the USSR/Russia (since 1944/45). It has many years of experience of teaching African languages combined with a comprehensive set of courses that are relevant for African studies.

The programme makes it possible not only to shape a multi-faceted outlook, but also provides a better understanding of oneself.


Main Courses

  • African geography and modern political situation
  • African literatures in European languages
  • African art
  • Amharic, Bambana, Hausa, Swahili
  • Fundamentals of African Studies
  • History of Africa
  • French
  • Research Work
  • Characteristics and Genres of African Folklore
  • African Oral Tradition
  • Research Work
  • Islam in Africa


Teaching Staff

Head of the programme is Alexander Zheltov, Professor, PhD, Doctor in Philology, Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Berkeley in 2002-2003, Head of the Department of African Ethnography in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera).

All professors have an experience of field work in African countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Rwanda, and Côte d'Ivoire.


Additional Opportunities

There is a special scholarship for research field work in Africa for young scholars ‘The Voices of Africa’.

Application Process

You can find all the relevant information on the SPbU website or contact the Admissions Office directly by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone +7 (812) 363-66-33.


Tuition Fees

Information about the tuition fees for SPbU study programmes can be found here.