MA in Migration and Displacement

Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa | 2014 intake

The African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) is the continent’s leading institution for teaching, research and outreach on human mobility

For more than a decade, the ACMS has offered interdisciplinary postgraduate degrees in migration studies that are theoretically rich, empirically grounded and professionally relevant. Students from across the world continue to benefit from rigorous academic training, field research experience and access to a network of committed professionals, scholars and activists. ACMS graduates now hold senior positions in universities, non-governmental organizations, international agencies and government departments across Africa, North America and Europe.

Students enrolled in ACMS graduate programmes can expect:

. Intensive and small postgraduate classes offering in-depth supervision and engagements with experienced and internationally renowned lecturers;
. Specialized training in health, labour, human rights or governance;
. Opportunities to embed their research in pioneering projects managed by ACMS researchers;
. An intellectually stimulating environment with seminars, workshops and conferences within ACMS and the broader university;
. Classmates from around the world with varied professional backgrounds and networks.

Intended to foster critical engagements with global social theory and the empirics of human mobility in Africa, the MA (coursework) is suitable for those aiming to advance their scholarly training in migration studies. Successful applicants will possess a good Honours or equivalent four-year undergraduate degree in the social-sciences or related disciplines.

Students may choose from the following ACMS courses or those offered elsewhere at Wits University:

Introduction to Migration & Displacement (GRAD 7029)
Human migration and displacement affect societies around the world. Nowhere are the impacts more visible than in Africa, where movements of people due to war, political persecution, and deprivation have long shaped the continent’s political, economic and social configurations. This course reviews the dynamics of migration-internal and international; forced and voluntary-along with formal and informal responses to human mobility. In place of technical skills or policy recommendations, the course provides a conceptual and empirical foundation for making sense of the complex conceptual, methodological, ethical and logistical concerns surrounding mobility. In doing so, it uses migration to raises fundamental challenges to the epistemological and empirical underpinnings of contemporary social and political theory.

Researching Migration (GRAD 7026)
This course is intended to strengthen students’ capacity for critical, independent social research. The focus is on understanding social science’s objectives and logics, enhancing students’ skills for evaluating the merits of published materials, and developing strategies for conducting methodologically sound, theoretically relevant empirical research in the environments where migrants are typically found.

The Psychosocial & Health Consequences of Migration (GRAD 7052)

This course provides a critical introduction to the health and psychosocial consequences of migration. The course’s theoretical core draws primarily from a public health perspective on humanitarian interventions and rights based arguments relating to health care of migrants. It explores the relationships between the state of being a migrant and the conditions that create vulnerabilities to ill health, specifically with regard to HIV/AIDS, mental well-being and reproductive health.

Migration & Human Rights (GRAD 7056)
This course explores the complex relationships among nationality, citizenship, migration and human rights. In a world where domestic and international mobility-particularly unauthorized and ‘illegal’ migration-has become a pressing policy and advocacy issue, notions of universal rights are appealing but rarely resonates with the socio-political realities of contemporary Africa or other regions. Indeed, a focus on universalism often ignores the mechanisms and mindsets that engender and endanger rights. It also presumes a form of legal subjectivity that often poorly reflects the objectives and trajectories of those we-activists, scholars, citizens, and officials-ostensibly seek to protect. This course addresses how international human rights doctrines, concepts, conventions, and mechanisms work to create and protect ‘aliens’, people who have left their countries of origin to work, seek a safe haven, or join family or friends in another country.

Identity, Movement & Control (SOSS 7025)
This course explores the intersections among human mobility, regulation, and the making of socio-political space. To do this, it proceeds through two primary sections. The first explores theories of power, sovereignty, and space drawing on literatures from political science, human geography, and anthropology. The second uses cases studies to consider three ‘types’ of space through and within which people regularly move: refugee camps, border zones, and urban centres. In all instances, case material and theory position African examples in a comparative perspective.

Application deadline 30th September 2013

[Please note that the ACMS also offers doctoral studies. For more information on its doctoral programmes, research and outreach, visit].

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