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The University of Cape Town which is the
oldest university in South Africa, is set on
the slopes of Table Mountain.
Cape Town, Western Cape

A world-class African university

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is the oldest university in South Africa and is one of the leading universities in Africa. It has over 20 000 students with 3 600 studying for PhD or Masters degrees. UCT prides itself on a multicultural student body which reflects the cultures and religions of the diverse Western Cape region, South Africa, Africa and the world. The University welcomes international students and is currently home to over 3 000 students from 90 different countries.

UCT has established a tradition of academic excellence, which is recognised worldwide. The University is privileged to have 17 out of South Africa’s 45 scientists identified by an independent audit as ‘A-rated’– those considered international leaders in their field. It is also the academic home of world-renowned authors such as Breyten Breytenbach, André Brink and Njabulo Ndebele, and has vibrant departments of African music and dance.

Set in the peaceful suburb of Rondebosch, UCT is about 10 minutes drive from Cape Town’s city centre. The main campus is located on the slopes of Table Mountain. There is a subsidiary campus in the city centre for Fine Arts, a Medical School near Groote Schuur Hospital, and the Graduate School of Business at the popular Cape Town Waterfront area.

Entrance requirements
For a Bachelor’s degree programme, the minimum requirement is a matric exemption. For non-English first language speakers, proof of English language ability is required. (TOEFL score at least 570, IELTS overall band score of 7.0 with no individual element of the test scoring below 6.0). Each faculty has subject requirements and acceptance depends on high school results.

International students need to apply for a conditional exemption certificate from: The Matriculation Board, P.O. Box 3854, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. Website:

Faculties include: Humanities Science Engineering and the Built Environment Law Commerce and Health Sciences. The faculties are spread over UCT’s main campus situated at Rondebosch, the Hiddingh Campus in Gardens, the Medical School in Observatory and the Breakwater Campus at the Waterfront. Every faculty publishes its own handbook with detailed information.

Facilities and services
Services include extensive sporting facilities, an accommodation bureau, a walk-safe scheme, student learning centres, a shuttle service, student health service, over 100 social, sports and specialty clubs and societies, a student Parliament, a disability unit and a student advice office. The International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) looks after the special needs of international students. All general enquiries pertaining to international students should be directed to the IAPO. E-mail: or visit the IAPO website

There is limited accommodation available for international students in residences on campus. Most international students join local students in shared rented houses or apartments near the University. The Student Housing Office (e-mail: and the Off-Campus Accommodation Bureau (e-mail: keep lists of accommodation. The International Academic Programmes can advice you on areas where to stay close to UCT.

The first port of call should be the UCT Web site: International students planning to do full South African degrees at UCT should apply through the Admissions Office. Semester Study Abroad students, exchange students and short-term international affiliates, should apply through the International Academic Programmes Office.

Teaching and research staff
UCT employs 4 300 people, 56% of whom are administrative and support staff and 44% are academic and research staff. Sixty percent of UCT academic staff hold Doctorates. A high proportion of staff are leaders in their fields. The National Research Foundation (NRF) identified UCT as one of South Africa's leading research universities in science, engineering and technology.

Research and areas of excellence
Research at UCT covers fundamental and applied research in Science and Engineering, in the Health Sciences, in the Humanities and in the growing field of policy research, as South Africa maps out the future of its new democracy.

UCT has four of the 15 national research units funded by the Human Science Research Council’s Centre for Science Development.

In the Health Sciences, UCT has the highest concentration of research centres funded by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC). These MRC research units include the Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit, the Cape Heart Research Group, the Ischaemic Heart Disease Research Unit, the Liver Research Unit, the Oesophageal Cancer Research Group, the Molecular Reproductive Endocrinology Research Unit, the Research Unit for Medical Genetics and the Research Group for Traditional Medicines, run jointly with the University of the Western Cape.

Graduates with approved three-year degrees who wish to do a Masters or PhD degree are normally required to complete an Honours degree involving one year of specialised study. Masters degrees are offered by dissertation or by taught courses and a minor dissertation. Doctoral degrees are research degrees which may be entered directly on the basis of a first degree, or after completing a Masters degree, or by upgrading an initial Masters registration to Doctoral level. Postgraduate diplomas normally follow a three-year Bachelor’s degree. Proof of English language proficiency is required for students for whom English is not their first language.

Semester Study Abroad (SSA)
UCT runs an exciting, varied and successful semester study abroad programme. The study abroad programme is designed for international students wishing to spend one or two semesters at UCT, taking (mostly) undergraduate courses for the purpose of transferring credit, on completion, to their home institution, for (usually) undergraduate degree credit. In 2003, UCT hosted almost 500 Semester Study Abroad students. Acceptance depends on academic record to date. Proof of English language proficiency is required for non-first language speakers (see above). Students from the USA require a GPA of 3.0 and above. For further information on the semester study abroad programme e-mail:

Study abroad at the University of Cape Town
In 2003 over 400 students from different continents spent one or two semesters at UCT as part of our semester study abroad programme.
Why UCT?

  • UCT offers a wide range of semesterised courses to choose from
  • UCT credits are easily transferable to your home university
  • UCT has staff members specifically dedicated to caring for study abroad students
  • UCT gives a six-day orientation programme on arrival
  • UCT provides assistance with finding accommodation
  • UCT gives students the option of "an aunt in town" with the Personalised Support Service
  • UCT runs a volunteer community service programme specially for study abroad students
  • UCT is in a peaceful, leafy suburb of Cape Town, one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities, with stunning views over two mountain ranges and across two oceans.

Here’s what some students said
Beautiful city: "Living and studying in Cape Town has been the best experience of my life. Not only is the University of Cape Town a good university, it is also in one of the most beautiful cities in the world."
Justin, CIEE, USA.
Breath-taking mountains: "I met many South African students by getting involved in the Hiking Club at UCT. Being part of the Hiking Club gave me the opportunity to go on weekend trails in the breath takingly beautiful mountains around Cape Town."
Kate, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Thought-provoking classes: "What a great place to learn about politics and the rebuilding of a nation. The interactions in the Politics classes at UCT were very stimulating and thought-provoking. I am glad that I could have been part of the building of the future leaders that are being produced at UCT."
Alison, University of British Columbia, Canada.

10 good reasons to study at UCT

  1. UCT a world-class African University!
  2. The magic of Cape Town: Multi-cultural, vibrant, historic African city, spectacular mountains, beaches, outdoor life.
  3. Wide choice of courses in six faculties: Humanities, Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Commerce and Law.
  4. Supportive International Academic Programmes Office: Over 3 000 international students, strong Semester Study Abroad programme, community service programme, International Student Organisations.
  5. UCT courses are accredited by leading universities in the world: UCT has visiting student agreements with institutions such as Leiden University, Duke University, Princeton, and the University of California.
  6. New, career-orientated undergraduate degree programmes: Interdisciplinary approach, flexible range of structured options with tight quality control.
  7. Emphasis on research and postgraduate studies: 20% of the 20 000 students are enrolled for PhD or Masters degrees, top quality academic staff.
  8. Comprehensive student services: Student Development and Services Department, extensive sports facilities, over 100 clubs, student health service, accommodation bureau, academic advisors, walk-safe scheme, shuttle service, community service options.
  9. Excellent student and research resources: Library with over 900 000 volumes, laboratories, study venues, international linkages, information technology services, field research options.
  10. Rooted in Africa with strong academic linkages across the continent: Academic Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) Programme, Centre for African Studies, African Gender Institute, All Africa House

Faculty of Science
Masters in Conservation Biology: This is a 13-month degree with equal components of coursework and a research project. Intensive modules on key conservation topics taught by international experts. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: + 27 21 650 3292.

Masters in Systematics and Biodiversity Science: This one-year course trains in the description, documentation and analysis of biological diversity. There are also components on biogeographic analysis and conservation biology and an introduction to Geographical Information Systems. Training in the methods used in one of the major groups (botany, entomology etc) is included. The course work component is examined in July, followed by a dissertation. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 4037.

Masters in Environmental Geochemistry: This course is multidisciplinary with modules covering the chemistry of the atmosphere, natural waters, soils and sediments, quantitative chemical analysis, statistics and data interpretation, environmental engineering, legal aspects, waste management and health considerations. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2902.

Masters in Information Technology: The normal duration of this course is two years although it may be completed in one. The course comprises a taught component comprising of Research Methods; Networks; Databases; Web site Design and Implementation; Human Computer Interaction; Software Engineering; Professional Standards and Advanced Programming. Students also complete a six-month research project. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2663

Master of Mathematics of Finance: This two-year programme is for students who wish to work in financial markets, especially in derivatives trading, risk management and quantitative analysis. It develops techniques for pricing and managing modern financial instruments. It is divided into coursework (first year) and a dissertation (second year). For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 3226.

Faculty of Commerce
Master of Commerce in Economics: A one-year full-time Masters degree which incorporates advanced economics study and a mini dissertation. An honours degree in Economics with an adequate background in econometrics is required. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2729.

Master of Commerce in Information Systems: A one-and- a-half-year to two-year full-time or two/three-year part-time programme in advanced study of business information systems. Candidates complete four modules consisting of current topics in Information Systems theory and research focused on developing a critical approach to reading and writing in Information Systems. Dissertations are also completed. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 4260.

Faculty of Humanities
MA in HIV/AIDS and Society: The programme provides students with the competence to grapple, both theoretically and through empirical, policy-directed research, with the complexities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the socially differentiated and culturally diverse setting of South Africa. Courses within the programme include: Media and Messages; Prevention, Support and Service; Planning to make a Difference – Policy and Management; and Public Health and the Social Context of HIV/AIDS. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 3513

MA in Gender and Transformation: The two-year programme focuses on providing the technical and intellectual capacity required to bridge gaps between policy and practice, and between women and men. The programme also equips graduates to contribute to democratisation and bring about the changes demanded by significant sectors of the population. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 4207.

MA in Applied Languages and Literature Studies: This programme is offered by UCT’s Centre for Applied Language and Literacy Studies and Services in Africa (CALSSA), collaboratively with the Department of Education, the Department of Southern African Languages and Linguistics, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, the Centre for Higher Education and Development and PRAESA. The programme offers advanced academic and professional approaches to teaching and researching the use of South Africa’s official languages in everyday contexts. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 4110.

MA in Theatre and Performance: The two-year MA offers an intensive exploration of theatre-making from the perspective of a theatre director or of an actor or performer. The student creates three theatre projects towards a final thesis production which also comprises a design component and a theoretical explication of the work. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 480 7166.

MEd/MPhil in Education: Masters programmes in the Department of Education are offered in two parts. In the first year candidates are required to register for the Postgraduate Diploma (Part I). Successful completion of the requirements for the diploma with a mark of not less than 60% in each of the four courses entitles a candidate to proceed to Part II, registration for which is at Masters level.

In addition to its postgraduate certificates and diplomas and taught Masters degree, the Department of Education offers many other courses at Honours/Masters. These courses do not require that students necessarily have education qualifications. There are courses that deal with education, policy and reform; gender and education; literacy studies; teaching and the modern condition; applied language studies; the writing and publishing of textbooks; literature and imagination; intercultural communication; and curriculum issues. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2772.

MA in Historical Studies: The programme will equip students for a broad range of careers in which research skills, a capacity for informed critical judgement, an effective grounding in written work and oral presentation, and an advanced ability to interpret complex materials will prove invaluable. Journalism, the heritage sector and the tourism industry, documentary film making, teaching, publishing, museum and gallery work covers some of the areas programme. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2742.

MA in Library and Information Science: The programme allows students to focus on particular areas of Library and Information Science. The curriculum comprises Management Studies, Policy Studies, Sociology and Information, Information and Knowledge Management, Databases and Database Production and Information Retrieval and a minor dissertation. For more information, E-mail:
Tel: +27 21 650 3093.

Faculty of Law
The Master of Laws Degree: This may be started in either late February or late July each year and may be taken over one or two years, on a full or part-time basis. (LLM candidates must be resident in Cape Town). Courses from a variety of legal disciplines and specialist areas are offered including: w Tax law w Shipping law w Electronic law w Labour law w International law w Marine law w Environmental law w Company law w Private law w Constitutional law w Criminal justice w Public law. For further information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2997

Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
Masters Programme in Catalytic Processing: This introduces students to all aspects of catalysis and catalytic processing. Emphasis is placed on catalytic synthesis, characterisation and testing in relation to industrially organic processes. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2699

Master of City Planning and Urban Design: This is a two-year full-time degree with an architectural qualification required for entry. The programme consists of theory and studiowork. Emphasis is placed on the studio as a vehicle of teaching and of promoting praxis between theory and practice. The focus is on developing innovative thinking for continued intellectual development and for responsibly meeting the changing demands of the workplace. This coursework programme is professionally accredited in South Africa. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2374

Master of Landscape Architecture and Planning: The degree programme is a two-year, full-time course. It is integrated with related programmes in Architecture, Urban Design and City and Regional Planning. For more information, E-mail: Tel +27 21 650 2374.

Masters degree in Process Systems Analysis and Control: This is a multidisciplinary coursework plus research Masters programme. Courses include Computational Methods in Process Systems, Multivariable Control System Analysis, Numerical Computation and Optimization, Advanced Engineering Statistics and topics in Chemical Engineering Research. For more information,
E-mail: Tel: +27 21 650 2699.

Faculty of Health Sciences
Master of Philosophy in Critical Care: This course provides a thorough knowledge of the basic sciences relating to physiology, pathology, microbiology, pharmacology and clinical measurement; general internal medicine, anaesthesia, surgery and radiology particularly related to critically ill patients and acute emergency medicine. For more information, E-mail: Tel: +27 21 406 6346.

Masters of Philosophy in BioEthics: This part-time degree, extending over two years, develops a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of ethical issues in public and private life. For more information, E-mail: Tel: + 27 21 406 6346.

Masters Degree in Public Health: This two-year degree prepares candidates to meet the challenges of evaluating and improving population health and health care delivery. The course outline includes, research methods; epidemiology; biostatistics; health economics; health services management; social and behavioural sciences and health; women's health and a dissertation. For more information, E-mail:
Tel: +27 21 406 6346.

Studying further?
Why not do a Postgraduate Degree at UCT?
If you want an excellent postgraduate qualification look no further than UCT. The university is committed to building on its international reputation by offering exciting opportunities for postgraduate research and learning, and a wide range of postgraduate degrees in all disciplines.

UCT offers over 65 Masters degrees. In response to market needs, an increasing number of these have a significant coursework component. A few of the many options available are listed below. Details about other Masters and postgraduate courses can be obtained from the UCT website at or under individual departmental listings.


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