SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Swahili 1 (PG)

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. knowledge and understanding of basic Swahili grammar
  2. basic level ability of reading and writing skills, and some spoken fluency
  3. ability to understand short passages in written Swahili on everyday topics – written or spoken dialogue
  4. knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Swahili in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


A total of 22 weeks teaching with 5 hours classroom contact per week.  10 research seminars to be taken within SOAS.  Attendance to be proven by signature from chair and to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Masters by the last day of term 2.

Scope and syllabus

In this course for beginners the four elements of basic language learning are given equal attention: speaking, listening, reading (translation) and writing (composing). The course focuses both on practical usage and acquisition of basic grammar. Out of 5hpw, one hour is for a language lab class, and one hour will be devoted solely to conversation. The course aims to build the student’s vocabulary to about 1,000 words, an understanding of sentence structure (grammar) to provide basic survival knowledge of the language in its cultural context. The ability to use a dictionary and reflect upon the language itself is a parallel aim.

Additionally, they will receive a series of special lectures structured around six themes: Structure, Texts, Identity, Society, Translation and Transformation provided for PG students studying different languages to introduce them to language-based scholarship and research. The aim is to provide them with the critical and methodological skills necessary to relate their acquired Swahili to thematic aspects of their studies

Method of assessment

One three-hour written paper taken in May/June (40%); a language learning portfolio consisting of a set of marked homework, short in-class tests, translation projects (30%); one 15 minute oral examination (10%); coursework: 2 quizzes (10%); 1 hour aural examination (audio/video) (10%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules