University of Alberta summer study abroad in Ghana

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The 2013 Ghana Program (July 4 to August 11 2013) has ended. We are currently planning to run the program in 2017. See for current information.

Please contact us if you are interested in attending a future program. A program brochure is available.

Contact Education Abroad or email Education Abroad or call +1 (780) 492-6040 for general inquiries regarding study abroad and the application process. Contact Michael Frishkopf for program content. See 2013 information below for a representative set of course syllabi.

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General information

This 9 credit summer study abroad program in Ghana, entitled "West African Music, Dance, Society, and Culture", comprises social science, humanities, and performing arts components, and is formally equivalent to three semester-long University of Alberta courses, available at both undergraduate and graduate levels. There are no prerequisites for these courses, or for the program as a whole.

The program aims to provide an international, life-transforming educational experience, grounded in study of music and dance (both traditional and popular), yet valuable to students enrolled in programs across arts, sciences, humanities, education, and social sciences. The Ghana program offers a grounded global perspective relevant to a wide range of disciplines and career trajectories; previous years' students came from a diversity of faculties, including Arts/Social Sciences, Science, Education, Business, Nursing, and Pharmacy. Thus studies of music and dance in Ghana are not intended as merely ends in themselves, but rather offer performative and participatory strategies for intercultural understanding, complemented by study of politics, history, religion, linguistics, literature, drama, economy, women's studies, and development--in the classroom, on the road, and in the field.

Formally the program includes three courses, of 3 credits each:

  • West African Music Ensemble (Music 144/244, 544). A practicum developing basic skills required for performance and understanding of traditional Ghanaian music, song, and dance, including music of the Ga, Asanti, and other groups, but with a special focus upon Ewe music traditions of the Volta Region. Includes study on the University of Ghana campus, in a traditional Ewe village, and in various locations throughout Ghana. Note: if you require non-junior credit you can substitute 244 for 144.
  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology: The ethnomusicology of Ghanaian music and dance (Music 365, 565) Scholarly study of traditional and popular performance of Ghana, treating the form and meaning of traditional music and dance in cultural contexts, linking music and social identity, and reading Ghanaian culture, politics, history, and religion through music. The music, culture, society, and history of the Ewes will be included, so as to harmonize with the other two courses. The course culminates with the practical experience of doing ethnomusicology in Dagbamete.
  • West African culture, language, and society (Middle Eastern and African Studies 300, 500). This course comprises a multidisciplinary investigation of West African culture (possibly including study of literature, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, history, political science, religious studies, economics, or other disciplines), plus a practical introduction to the Ewe language, in conversation and through its oral literary tradition.

These three courses continue in parallel throughout three program components, of roughly 10-12 days each: (1) classroom study at the University of Ghana's beautiful Legon campus, on the outskirts of Ghana's capital, Accra; (2) travel throughout Ghana, with attention to natural, historical and cultural landmarks, and varied opportunities to observe and study music and dance; (3) cultural immersion in a small Ewe village (Dagbamete) located in southeastern Ghana, with opportunities for fieldwork and intensive study of music, dance, and language.

Music and dance performance is central, but no musical experience or talent is required to succeed (only a willingness to try!), and there are no prerequisites for any of the three courses. In 2007 and 2008, long-weekend field trips provided additional musical-cultural perspectives. Starting in 2009 we rolled several of these trips into a single continuous week of travel. Field trips typically include visits to Cape Coast, Elmina, Kakum, Kumasi, Tamale, and Mole National Park where it is possible to view a wide assortment of wildlife. We undertake 2-3 day drumming and dancing workshops in many places we visit, such as Kokrobite, Kumasi, and Tamale, focussing on local musical culture (Ga, Asante, and Dagomba, respectively).

In our more sedentary moments, we'll be studying primarily on the beautiful Legon campus of the University of Ghana (Legon is a suburb of Accra, and a bit cooler too, where the rolling inland hills begin) and in the Volta-region village of Dagbamete, approximately two weeks in each location.

Here's a map on which you can find many of the places we'll visit: Legon, Accra, Kokrobite, Cape Coast, Kakum, Kumasi, Tamale (in the north). Kokrobite is around 80 kilos west of Accra. Elmina and Kakum are short drives from Cape Coast. In the Volta Region: Akatsi (a few kilos from our village, Dagbamete), and Ho, the capital of the Volta Region.  Here's another

For a program brochure, please click here.

To communicate with past or prospective participants, join our Facebook group

Here are some guidelines and lists to help you prepare for travel.

2013 program and application procedures



Please note: you must arrive on July 4 or before, and you must not leave until August 11 at the earliest. Extensions outside these dates are fine, and in fact encouraged; many students find post-program travel especially rewarding, as they know the lay of the land and how to traverse it, and have made good friends who become suitable travel companions besides. If you're interested in specific kinds of travel or study in West Africa please let us know and we can help you make suitable arrangements. Typically it's also possible to make stop-overs in Europe or elsewhere, often at no extra cost.

The following schedule is now fairly certain. Please find places mentioned on this map:

July 4 (Thursday) - arrive in Ghana (you must be in Accra by July 4; you may wish to arrive earlier and travel or study on your own before the program begins)
July 5 - program officially begins with orientation at 10:30 am (meet at the Guest Centre restaurant, followed by lunch, a campus tour, and security overview.
July 6 - Accra tour
July 7 - morning church and fieldwork; Ashaiman funeral in afternoon
July 8-18 - Classes at UG, interspersed with various visits and activities in Greater Accra
July 19-21 - Kokrobite and Ga music culture
July 22-24 - Cape Coast and Elmina (slave castles and Fante music culture), plus Kakum forest trip
July 25-July 27- Kumasi program
July 28-31 - Tamale and Mole program.
Aug 1 - return to Legon and overnight on campus, leaving in morning for Dagbamete in the Volta Region
Aug 2 - Aug 11 Dagbamete field school immersion (we may stop at Asafotufiam Festival, east of Accra, en route). Aug 10 - Final performance and goodbyes.
Aug 11 (Sunday)- program ends; leave for airport or other destinations. (NB: you must not depart Ghana before this date; however, you may certainly opt to stay in Ghana longer!

Schedule on Google calendar (flip to July and August).

Travel, Health, and other preparations for travel

  • Students are responsible for their own travel arrangements to Ghana. Costs differ dramatically depending on point of origin, and many students like to arrive early or depart late, in order to facilitate additional travel in Ghana. Rather than organize students as a single posse, everyone normally makes his or her own travel arrangements. Routing is usually via Europe, though some direct flights may depart from the USA. The University of Ghana assists in transporting students from the airport to their lodgings on the day before the program begins. If enough students plan to travel together from Edmonton we may be able to make group travel arrangements.
  • Vaccinations and a Visa are required for travel to Ghana.
  • See Preparing for the Ghana program .


Syllabi are still somewhat tentative due to possible changes in travel and lecturer schedules. Expect lots of small changes as we develop the program details. However the big picture will not change, and you can begin to gather the required readings, listenings, and viewings now.

Ghana 2013 syllabi (tentative)

Projected costs

Basic costs: (NB: these are 2012 estimates, to be revised in the coming weeks - but the program is essentially the same)

  • University of Alberta tuition (9 credits, 3 courses): $1,894.87 CAD (for Canadian citizens or permanent residents; inquire for other statuses)
  • Instructional support fee (covers all room and board during village stay, plus all field trip travel and workshops/performances, plus University of Ghana affiliation fee covering campus services such as internet and library): $800.00 CAD
  • Room at University of Ghana and hotels during field trips (village stay is covered by your instructional support fee; see above): Approx. $415.00 CAD
  • Board throughout, except during village stay (where food is covered by your instructional support fee): Approx. $442.00 CAD (note: it's certainly possible to economize here)
  • Education Abroad Application Fee: $250.00 CAD
  • Program Total: Approx. $3,801.87 CAD not including airfare (for Canadian citizens or permanent residents; inquire for other statuses)


  • Students are responsible for additional costs, including visa fees, vaccinations, medications (malaria medication is essential), medical insurance, books (most readings are electronic), supplies, gifts, entertainment and other incidental expenses.
  • Airfare is considerably cheaper if you can arrange to fly out of a major hub (e.g. Toronto, NYC). You may also wish to economize by combining this trip with travel elsewhere, via stopovers in Europe, Cairo, etc., before or after the program.
  • An additional $500 CAD in spending money is recommended.
  • As a very rough but conservative estimate for room/board, I generally budget around $25/day for both. Sometimes room is more and board less, and sometimes vice versa, but it's not a bad figure to keep in mind. (For instance, the University of Ghana charges students USD$13/night double occupancy. You can get a very decent breakfast for $2, lunch for $4, dinner $6. Of course you might eat in an expensive restaurant occasionally, but not always...)
  • Scholarships ($1250 per student) are available on a first-come first-served basis. Only 14 are available, so apply soon!. See below...

Student support: scholarships and loans

  • The 2013 West African Music, Dance, Society, and Culture program in Ghana has been approved for funding under the 2013 Group Education Abroad Award funding competition. Up to 14 full-time UofA students are guaranteed to receive $1,250 each in scholarship funding, to support of their participation in the West African Music, Dance, Society, and Culture program.
  • NEW The program has also been approved to receive CAGFIL (Campus Alberta Grant For International Learning) funding. Every Albertan who is not a full-time UofA student is nevertheless eligible to receive a $750 scholarship.
  • Loans. Students may also qualify for student loans.

Eligibility, Credits, Transfers and non-UofA students

The program is open to all adults (i.e. you must be at least 18 years old to enroll).

The program comprises 3 UofA courses. These will appear on transcripts for UofA students like any other course. They will receive 9 course credits that may apply towards their programs.

Non-University of Alberta students can also enroll. In order to do so, they must first enroll in University of Alberta open studies, prior to enrollment in the program. Non-University of Alberta students are responsible for ensuring that program credit transfers to their home institution and programs, if desired. They can receive official transcripts from the University of Alberta documenting completion of the program.

Note that the Open Studies 6 course weight limit does not apply to this program. You will be enrolled in a total of 9 course weights (= 3 courses) for the summer term.

Application process

You need to meet with a study abroad advisor by March 2 to complete the Summer Abroad Application. Contact Xiao Zhang, (780) 492-1578.

For more info...

Have questions? Please read over materials for 2010 below, as 2012's will closely resemble them. Still have questions? Please contact Xiao Zhang (780) 492-1578 in Education Abroad for inquiries regarding study abroad, and Michael Frishkopf for inquiries regarding program content, or visit Education Abroad.

Past programs: blogs, photos, testimonials....

Those considering attending may wish to examine student blogs, photo essays, and other testimonials from previous years, or browse our cumulative research project, Music and change in Dagbamete



Work of Arts blog article by Elizabeth Cunningham

















Ghana 2009 syllabi





Ghana 2008 syllabi

Ghana 2008 timeline

Here's a testimonial from a 2008 summer student enrolled in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Nursing (click and scroll down a bit...).


Experiencing Ghana, summer 2007

2010 program and application procedures

The 2010 programs ran from July 1 to August 8.


Anticipated program dates in Ghana are Friday July 2nd (you must arrive in Ghana by Thursday July 1 or earlier) to Saturday August 7th, inclusive (you must not depart Ghana before August 8th). Our tentative schedule:

  • Thursday, July 1: arrival in Accra (unless you've elected to spend some time in Ghana before the program starts); move into International Student Hostel dorms at the University of Ghana, Legon
  • Friday, July 2: meet at University of Ghana Guest Center (11 am) for meeting and greeting, program overview, lunch, campus orientation and tour
  • Saturday, July 3: Accra tour
  • Sunday, July 4: fieldwork in church; lecture on benevolent (funeral) associations; fieldtrip to Ashaiaman to participate in a funeral association performance by Afife (ageshe/adzida music)
  • Monday, July 5 - Thursday, July 8: 4 days classes at University of Ghana (Legon). Possible excursion Thursday afternoon.
  • Friday, July 9 - Sunday, July 11: 3 days - Buduburam refugee camp research, and Kokrobite musical beach adventure (30 km from Accra)
  • Monday, July 12 - Thursday, July 15: 4 days classes at University of Ghana (Legon). Possible excursion Thursday afternoon.
  • Friday, July 16 - Sunday, July 18: 3 days: Cape Coast, Elmina, and Kakum forest tour (historical and ecological), about a 2-3 hour drive from Legon. Fante and Congolese popular musics.
  • Monday, July 19 - Tuesday, July 20: 2 days classes at University of Ghana (Legon).
  • Wednesday, July 21 - Wednesday, July 28: 8 day tour to Kumasi and Tamale, including lectures and workshops in both locations. Optional excursion to Mole National Park (wildlife).
  • Thursday, July 29 - Saturday, August 7: 10 day Dagbamete village stay (cultural immersion, fieldwork, and intensive music/dance instruction), culminating with final performance and party on August 6
  • Saturday August 7: free day - wrap up your research, say your goodbyes...
  • Sunday August 8: depart Dagbamete for airport (transportation included) or further travel in Ghana

In sum, we'll stay in the University of Ghana hostel from the evening of July 1 to the morning of July 21, then travel around Ghana, and return for one more night at the hostel on July 28), before departing for Dagbamete the morning of the 29th. (During our Ghana travel you can leave your bags locked at the hostel for a small fee.)

Note that you must schedule your air travel so as to arrive in Accra by the evening of July 1, and must not leave Ghana before August 8. However you are certainly encouraged to extend your stay beyond the end of the formal program; many students did so in 2009, while others wished they had! (it wasn't always possible to extend the ticket later, as summer is "high season"). Or you may prefer to arrive in Ghana before the program starts, in order to do some traveling on your own. In that case you'll still move into the dorms on July 1st, and meet us on campus on the morning of July 2. If you want to avail yourself of pre-paid transportation to and from the airport, you should arrive on the evening of July 1, and depart in the late afternoon on July 8. However transport to and from the airport is not difficult to arrange.


Here are some guidelines and lists to help you prepare for travel.

Unless you're bringing a laptop (a good idea if you can swing it) or e-reader (you can read pdf's on Kindle), you should print out online reading assignments prior to departure.


Note: syllabi for the current year will resemble these.

Ghana 2010 syllabi

Undergraduate and graduate credit

Please note that the program is available for both undergraduate and graduate credit. At the undergraduate level you will enroll in: Music 144 (or 244, 344, 444 depending on whether you've taken this course, West African Music Ensemble, before), Music 365 (Introduction to Ethnomusicology, and MEAS 300 (Middle Eastern and African Studies). At the graduate level you will enroll in: Music 544 (West African Music Ensemble), Music 565 (Area Studies in Ethnomusicology), MEAS 500 (Topic in Middle Eastern and African Studies). The latter two courses emphasize advanced, critical reading, independent field research, and ethnomusicological analysis and writing. Students pursuing an MA in ethnomusicology could use these courses to develop a corpus of research and knowledge sufficient for the preparation of an MA thesis, or simply to develop a secondary area of ethnomusicological expertise.


Albertan students will each receive a $750 scholarship from the government of Alberta, up to 14 scholarships total. It is not yet clear whether scholarships are available for other students; you are encouraged to seek out sources of funding from your own institution, province, or state.

Transfers and non-UofA students

The program is open to all adults (i.e. you must be at least 18 years old to enroll). The program comprises 3 UofA courses, and UofA students can enroll in these and receive credits that may apply towards their programs.

Non-University of Alberta students must enroll in University of Alberta open studies prior to enrollment in the program. Non-University of Alberta students are responsible for ensuring that credit transfers to their home institution and program.

Note that the Open Studies 6 course weight limit does not apply to this program. You will be enrolled in a total of 9 course weights (= 3 courses) for the summer term.


Approximate costs in 2010 (subject to change depending on enrollments):

  • Education Abroad application fee
  • Fees for visa
  • Cost of vaccines, medicines (anti-malarial is a must)
  • Books, supplies, clothing, equipment, etc.
  • Tuition for Canadian students for the 3 courses : $1743.56 (more for International students) [paid in advance]
  • Program fee (includes Dagbamete room/board and transportation, Internet use on campus, airport pickup, certain workshops): $750 [paid in advance]
  • Housing on campus (July 1 - 20): approx $300 [paid in advance]
  • Food during campus portion of trip (July 1 - 20): approx. $200 [paid individually in Ghana]
  • Ghana tour (transport, food, lodging, activities): approx. $250 [paid individually in Ghana]
  • Flight: around $2600 from Edmonton to Accra, significantly less from eastern Canada or US. Note that it may cost significantly less to purchase multiple roundtrip tickets with a stopover in Europe, but in this case you should leave a day or more between flights to ensure connections. [arranged and paid individually]
  • Long weekend fieldtrips (two excursions): about $100 each, or $200 total (most students won't want to miss these) [paid individually in Ghana]
  • Optional spending money for souvenirs, clothing, drums (a drum costs about $50, and can be brought home as an extra bag), excursions, gifts....


  • Room and board during fieldtrips is figured at $25/day. These are conservative figures. In Ghana, it is possible to procure a satisfying meal for under $2 and lodging will often be $5/night or even less. But in some situations (e.g. the wonderful restaurant at Kokrobite, where dinner will be about $12, or the Guest Center on campus, where a meal's about $5), costs will be higher.
  • ATMs are plentiful in Ghana's larger cities, and on the campus, so you need not bring a lot of cash. Please see advice on financial preparations.

2009 program and application procedures

2009 schedule

Following your arrival in Ghana by Thursday July 2, the 2009 program will commence on Friday July 3, lasting a total of 33 days until its conclusion on August 3 (departure August 4), including 3 days of orientation (July 3-5), 8 days of classroom lectures (July 6-9, July 13-16), 12 days of travel throughout Ghana (July 10-12, July 17-24), and 10 days' residence in a small Ewe-speaking Ghanaian village (Dagbamete), located in Ghana's Volta Region, for field study and musical/linguistic/cultural immersion (July 25-Aug 3). Unless you've made other arrangements, you'll be leaving Dagbamete on August 4th, and can catch a flight in the afternoon or evening on that day if you wish. It's also possible to arrange to stay in Dagbamete longer, or to spend time touring elsewhere in Ghana if you wish. But please do not plan to leave Ghana before August 4th.

The Ghana portion of the program will be shorter in 2009 than in 2008, but will provide the same number of credits. You are welcome to plan your trip as you like, arriving before the program begins, or remaining in Ghana afterward, in order to extend your stay. Because the Ghana portion is shorter, I will assign some readings for you to complete before your arrival in Ghana. Feel free to do these assignments at any time before the program commences.

Click here for 2009 schedule

Preparation for Ghana

Here are some guidelines and lists to help you prepare for travel.

Unless you're bringing a computer or e-reader, you should print out online reading assignments prior to departure.

2009 Program syllabi

Here are the syllabi for 2009.

Because the Ghana portion of the program is shorter than last year, you will be expected to complete a number of reading assignments prior to travel. Please take note of readings on the syllabi that you should complete before the program begins, namely:

You will prepare final papers after returning from Ghana - papers will be due at the end of August.

For now, please learn to locate all the countries of Africa and their capitals using this interactive map quiz for countries, and this one for capitals.

2009 Costs and scholarships

Ghana program costs in 2009

Scholarships are available!

Fifteen $1,000 scholarship awards are available to early applicants from Canada, with priority to UofA students. Ready to apply? Complete the application. (Note: the application says these grants are only for UofA students, but in fact you can obtain a scholarship even if you're not a UofA student. It's just that UofA students have priority.)

$2,250 scholarships are available for International students (including students from the USA).

Need more information?

Regarding application procedures please contact Xiao Zhang ((780) 492-1578)) in Education Abroad
Tel: 780 492 6215
Fax: 780 492 6213

You may also contact Professor Michael Frishkopf for further information about the program itself.

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