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Visiting Professor, University of Kent

Professor Keith Somerville is a writer and lecturer on African affairs, journalism and the global media. In January 2013, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. He teaches the Communications and Humanitarianism and Propaganda modules at the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent.His book, Africa’s Long Road Since Independence. The Many Histories of a Continent has just been published by Hurst and Co and his work on the history of the ivory trade in Africa – Ivory. Poaching and Power in Africa will be published at the end of 2016. . Professor Somerville founded and runs the Africa, News and Analysis website.
Keith writes on Africa’s military and political affairs; the politics of conservation in Africa; Africa and the media; the history and use of propaganda and hate broadcasting; analysing the global media and its coverage of major world events; finding and developing stories; news and feature writing; interview techniques; broadcast and online news reporting and production; media law and ethics, and international journalism.

He has specialist knowledge of African politics and military/strategic issues; foreign intervention in Africa; environmental and wildlife issues in Africa and beyond; Marxism and the foreign policy of the former Soviet Union; and rugby (he has years of playing and team captaincy experience and is an RFU-qualified rugby coach). His current research interests are the contemporary history of Africa in light of the interplay bet ween structure and human agency; radio propaganda in apartheid South Africa; and the links between insurgency, organized crime and poaching in central and southern Africa

A career journalist with the BBC World Service and BBC Newsi for three decades, Keith has an established track record as a trainer and training designer for the BBC, initially with BBC World Service training and latterly with the recently-established BBC College of Journalism. He was executive producer for the BBC’s international award-winning Legal Online course; co-author and role-play developer for the BBC’s post-Hutton Sources, Scoops and Stories course; he in charge of and the scenario writer for the BBC’s interactive journalism teaching tool, The Journalism Tutor.

His knowledge of journalism theory and practice is based on nearly three decades of reporting, writing, presenting and editing World Service news programmes. He also has extensive online production experience and has written for specialist publications on African affairs.

The major world events he has covered include running the World Service team in South Africa for the first post-apartheid elections in 1994; presenting live coverage of the attempted coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev; overseeing the first 10 hours of World Service coverage of the death of Princess Diana; running of live World Service radio coverage on 9/11; and producing and presenting radio documentaries from South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and the wilds of deepest Cardiff and Norfolk.

Keith has an extensive publication record on African continental and international politics.

From 2012 to 2014 he taught the Humaniatarian Communications module and a module on Conflict and Security in Africa in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Kent. From 2008 to 2011, he taught journalism at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Brunel University and was BA (Hons) Journalism course leader and Admissions Tutor for the MA in International Journalism. He was educated at St Clement Danes Grammar School, the University of Southampton, the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Brunel University.


  • –present
    Senior Research Fellow, University of Kent