The Africa Thesis Award

Are you interested in Africa and have you written your Masters thesis on an African-related subject? The African Studies Centre (ASC), the Netherlands institute for Southern Africa (NiZA) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) are offering you the chance to win €4000 in The Africa Thesis Award.

The award aims to encourage student research and writing on Africa and to promote the study of African cultures and societies. It is presented annually to a student whose Masters thesis has been completed on the basis of research conducted on Africa. The award may also be granted to any other final-year piece of work in the form of film, video or CD-ROM that presents a clear analysis of an issue relating to Africa.

The award consists of a prize of 1000 euro for the winning thesis and an additional 3000 euro for the writing of a PhD proposal or for fieldwork to update the original data for a wider audience. The winning thesis will be published in the ASC Research Report Series and a summary of the work will also appear in a CODESRIA journal.

Who can apply

Any final-year student who has completed his/her Masters thesis with distinction (80% or higher or a Dutch rating of at least 8) at a university in Africa or the Netherlands can apply. The thesis has to be based on independent empirical research related to Africa in one
of the subjects listed in the following section and must have been examined within one year prior to the deadline for submitting manuscripts (see below).
The ASC, NiZA and CODESRIA specifically encourage students from Africa to submit their theses for this annual competition.

Subject of the thesis

Any thesis thematically related to socio-geographical, economic, political, juridical or anthropological issues or focusing on the humanities such as history, religion and literature (but with the exception of language and/or semiotic studies) can be submitted.
For submission to the ASC, its geographical focus should be on Sub-Saharan Africa or its migrant communities elsewhere in the world. For submission to CODESRIA, the geographical focus of the thesis should be on Africa or its migrant communities around the world. The thesis must be socially relevant.

How to submit a thesis

If a student or his/her supervisor feels that a Masters thesis merits an award because of its high quality and originality, the thesis should be submitted either to the ASC-NiZA Awards Committee or the CODESRIA Awards Committee. Every submission must include:

  • a letter of recommendation from the student’s supervisor containing details about the quality of the thesis and the educational institution from which the student has graduated, and
  • a copy of the thesis as well as a summary of a maximum of 500 words.

Applicants based in the Netherlands are requested to submit 2 hard copies of their thesis. Those based in Africa are welcome to send an electronic version of their thesis by email. If a hard copy of the thesis is submitted, the applicant’s email address must also be included.
The application will not be processed if it is incomplete.

Please note that the initial selection for the award will be made based on the summary, the table of contents and the letter of recommendation.

Where to submit a thesis

Mienke van der Burg, the 2006 winner, recieves a grant from dutch member of parliament Bert Koenders
Theses can be submitted to the ASC or CODESRIA (but not to both) depending on the following criteria:
A thesis can be submitted to the ASC if it is written in English, French or Dutch. If the thesis is in Dutch, a five-page English or French summary should also be attached.
A thesis can be submitted to CODESRIA if it is written in English, French, Portuguese or Arabic. If the thesis is written in Arabic or Portuguese, a five-page English or French summary should be attached.

Quality of the thesis

The ASC, NiZA and CODESRIA seek to attract theses that demonstrate a high quality with regard to the subject matter of the research as well as the way the research has been conducted. The jury attaches importance to an original approach and insight, and the relevance of the research to a scientific understanding of the issues covered. In addition, the jury will consider the significance of the thesis in relation to development-related issues and its interest for the general public.

Time schedule

This year’s deadline for the submission of theses is 15 June 2007. From all the entries submitted to both institutes, a shortlist of three theses will be drawn up from which a joint jury will select the winning thesis. The jury will announce its decision in September 2007. In November 2007, the winner will be invited to present his/her work at a seminar in Leiden and may also be invited to do the same at a seminar hosted by one of CODESRIA’s member institutes in Africa.

The jury (provisional)

The following researchers are on the jury of the 2007 Africa Thesis Award:
  • Prof. Meine Pieter van Dijk (Erasmus University), (chair)
  • Prof. Eric Aseka (Kenyatta University)
  • Prof. Kwame Boafo-Arthur (University of Ghana)
  • Dr Rijk van Dijk (African Studies Centre)
  • Dr Gerti Hesseling (African Studies Centre)
  • Dr Margreet de Lange (Utrecht University)
  • Cyril Obi (Nordic African Institute)

Ms Gitty Petit (ASC) (secretary)
Ms Chifaou I. Josiane Amzat (CODESRIA) (secretary)

The jury’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Further information

For more information or queries regarding the submission of a thesis, please contact Ms Gitty Petit, the secretary of the ASC-NiZA Awards Committee:
African Studies Centre (ASC)
P.O. Box 9555
2300 RB Leiden
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)71 527 3376
Fax: +31 (0)71 527 3344

or Ms Chifaou I. Josiane Amzat, the secretary of the CODESRIA Awards Committee:
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop X Canal IV,
BP 3304 Dakar,
18524, Senegal
Tel: +221 8259814
Fax: +221 8640143
E-mail: or

For more information about the presentation of the award in November, please contact: Ms Elke van den Hout
Netherlands institute for Southern Africa (NiZA)
P.O. Box 10707
1001 ES Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)20 520 6210
Fax: +31 (0)20 520 6249

The African Studies Centre (ASC) is an independent scientific institute that generates and disseminates knowledge on Africa. The ASC’s main aim is to promote a better understanding and insight into historical, current and future societal developments in Sub-Saharan Africa. It publishes books and articles, organizes seminars and has an extensive library that is open to the general public.

The Netherlands institute for Southern Africa (NiZA) is a politically independent organization working towards a democratic southern Africa. NiZA cooperates with organizations in southern Africa that are striving for political, social and/or economic changes and links the southern problems strategically to lobby activities and public campaigns in the North.

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) was established in 1973 as an independent Pan-African research organization with a primary focus on the social sciences. It has its headquarter in Dakar, Senegal. It is recognized not only as a pioneer African social research organization but also as the apex non-governmental centre of social knowledge production on the continent.