Afro Beats and Afro Bytes PhD Studentship 2024 for African Students: Apply Now!


About the Afro Beats and Afro Bytes PhD Studentship 2024

Applications are being accepted for a four-year PhD studentship on the topic of “Afro beats and Afro bytes: the role of digital and platform economies in the global development of West African music.” The researcher will work out of King’s College London’s Department of Culture, Media, and Creative Industries (CMCI). Dr. Eka Ikpe, the director of the African Leadership Center and a reader in development economics in Africa, and Professor Roberta Comunian, a professor of creative economies in the Department of Culture, Media, and Creative Industries, will serve as co-supervisors. 

In order to create social, economic, and cultural value for local and international markets, Afro-beat music producers in West Africa utilize productive forces (knowledge, technology, and capital), and this has an impact on socioeconomic change. This project aims to understand how they do this. This project offers opportunities for conceptual innovation because creative economies allow for broader readings of value across economic, social, and cultural domains.

Due to limited views of value, current discussions on global production, such as those involving global value chains, have a tendency to ignore the ideas of leading firms in Africa. Therefore, the project seeks to go beyond perceptions of Africa as a continent with limited resources and instead concentrate on the creativity, ideas, and innovation—including sustainability—that are emerging throughout the continent. 

By placing the creative economy at the center, we can take a forward-looking approach to understand the social, cultural, and economic development of Africa and the world. Driven by factors such as digitalization, urbanization, youth, and South-South trade, this industry is expanding at a faster rate than other sectors and is projected to account for 10% of global GDP by 2030 (Buchkolz, 2021; UNDP, 2023). Additionally, it is prioritized in Africa as a crucial framework for analyzing current and upcoming socioeconomic change (World Bank 2021; Africa Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) 2021).

In order to influence new social, economic, and cultural developments in local and international markets, this project aims to comprehend how West African musicians and music producers interact with digital technologies and platform economies. The project aims to deepen, challenge, and improve discussions on global value chains and production networks in the music industry by utilizing the theoretical framework of “lead firms from below.”

It also investigates the distribution and fusion of capital, technology, and knowledge at different scales (urban, national, and beyond). It will specifically examine the role that digital platforms play as middlemen and how they might help or impede the development of new business models for the production, distribution, and generation of revenue from creative content. The project focuses on creativity, ideas, and innovation rather than the stereotype of Africa as a continent with limited resources.  

The main research question will be: Which systems and procedures support the production, marketing, and revenue-generating activities of West African music producers in both domestic and foreign markets? The project is associated with King’s College London’s Africa Europe CoRE (Cluster of Research Excellence) on Creative Economies, where interdisciplinary partnerships are being formed with various African partners. An existing partnership with the University of Lagos (Nigeria) can also be advantageous to this project.

This field of study would expand as a result of the PhD research in order to comprehend socioeconomic and cultural variables and trends in this domain on a deeper level. It is probable that the investigator will conduct a mixed-methods case study investigation, which may involve the examination of industry data, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observations. One West African nation is what we want the students to concentrate on.  

You will have the chance to engage in public speaking and international travel, and you are welcome to hone your teaching abilities in the CMCI Department and School of Global Affairs. 

Eligibility Criteria

Essential criteria 

  • An African national and permanently resident in an African country; 
  • Liable for tuition fees at the higher international/overseas rate (fees are covered funding for four years); 
  • Plan to commence a full-time MPhil/PhD programme at King’s College London in the 2024–25 academic year (ideally, the candidate will start in October 2024). 
  • Meet the academic requirements for enrolment for the PhD degree in the Faculty of Social Science and Policy at King’s College London.  
  • You should hold or expect to obtain a High Merit or Distinction at Master’s level (or equivalent) in any subject. Subjects of particular relevance would include but not be limited to: International Political Economy; Political Economy; Business; Development Studies; Culture, Media & Creative Industries; Policy; Sociology; Geography; and Social Sciences.   
  • A strong interest in music and the creative economy (academic, professional, personal)  
  • Good teamwork, observational, organisation and communication skills.  
  • Experience of qualitative and quantitative methods  

Desirable criteria 

  • Professional experience in the music industry in a West African country  
  • Professional or personal networks in the music industry in an African country  
  • Prior research or publication experience 

Benefits Of the Afro-beats and Afro-Bites PhD Studentship

This award will cover all of your tuition fees, provide you with an annual stipend, and also offer you a Research, Training and Support Grant every year. This is a great opportunity to pursue your academic goals without worrying about financial constraints and to receive additional support to help you excel in your research and training. 

How to Apply for the Afro-beats and Afro-Bites PhD Studentship

The selection process will involve a pre-selection based on documents: 

  • CV  
  • cover letter explaining your interest in the project and how your prior experience is relevant 
  • A sample of written work (i.e MA thesis) 
  • An academic reference letter (from a previous supervisor or personal tutor at MA level).  

Please email these documents to Prof. Comunian ( by March 19, 2024.  If selected, this will be followed by an invitation to an interview (the interview will take place online in the week commencing 22nd of April 2024). If successful at the interview, an offer will be made for PhD study and scholarship funding.  

The selected candidates must then apply via King’s Apply online application system. Details are available here. Please apply for CMCI (MPhil/PhD) and indicate Prof. Comunian and Dr. Ikpe as your desired supervisor and the project title in your application and all correspondence.  

For more details visit the official webpage of the program via the link below.

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