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Welcome to The Faculty of Arts

The Faculty is well respected and well connected internationally. It boasts top academics and a strong research profile. Arts graduates emerge socially responsive and skilled in critical thinking and effective communication and go on to excel in a variety of fields

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    • Department of Afrikaans and Nederlands

      You are now at the heart of Afrikaans, the language which originated from the communities we serve. It is the language in which most people in this part of the country express their first words, live life to the fullest and breathe their last.

    • Department of Anthropology and Sociology

      Anthropology and Sociology are established social science disciplines. Both are immensely challenging and exciting and generally aim to understand culture and how societies work.

    • Department of English

      The Department of English at UWC is a leading interdisciplinary department in the humanities in South Africa.

    • Department of Foreign Languages

      The Department offers Arabic, French, German and Latin from the first year, which is a foundation course, to the second and third year levels. All languages, except Latin, are also taught at postgraduate level.

    • Department of Geography, Environmental Studies & Tourism

      The Department of Geography, Environmental Studies & Tourism at UWC, uniquely located in the Arts Faculty, is a dynamic teaching and research department with a wide range of expertise in both geography and tourism.

    • Department of History

      The Department of History is one of the leading History departments in South Africa. It is currently at the forefront in teaching and research in visual, public and social history.

    • Department of Linguistics

      The Linguistics department has two focal areas of strength and encourages students and researchers to join and contribute to these areas if possible. The first of these areas is an approach to language and communication from the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis.

    • Department of Library and Information Science

      The Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Western Cape, like its parent institution, is alert to its African and international context as it strives to be a place of quality, a place to grow from hope to agency through knowledge.

    • Department of Religion and Theology

      The programmes offered in the Department of Religion and Theology seek to be relevant within the African and South African contexts and are offered on a thoroughly ecumenical basis.

    • Department of Women's and Gender Studies

      Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) is an interdisciplinary department based in the Faculty of Arts at the University of the Western Cape which aims to promote scholarship on gender issues in South Africa, and to contribute to the challenge of gender transformation in the university and in society at large

    • Department of Xhosa

      The core activity of the Xhosa Department at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is the teaching of Xhosa to both mother-tongue speakers (Xhosa Studies) and non-mother-tongue speakers (Xhosa Language Acquisition).

    • Department of Philosophy

      Philosophy is undergoing a regeneration at UWC. For years, it offered only a few modules but now it is back with a full programme of modules for a major and new Philosophers on the staff. It also offers postgraduate qualifications at all levels.

    • Centre for Humanities Research

      Since its inception in 2006, the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape has emerged as a crucial meeting point for researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences throughout Southern Africa. The Centre strives to develop unifying and interdisciplinary themes in the humanities that will enable a renewal of its study in Africa. For the CHR, the chief indicators of success in knowledge production are masters and doctoral graduates; the dissemination of research through the publication of monographs and journal articles; mentorship and guidance of young scholars; a vibrant postdoctoral programme; and the employment of its PhD graduates, preferably in South Africa’s universities. A unique model: Research platforms, a seminar programme, Winter Schools and Reading Programmes Four components were identified by the Director of the Centre as key enablers in the creation and dissemination of new knowledge. First, the creation of research platforms allows scholars in the faculty and the Centre to read and write around specific areas, such as Aesthetics and Politics, and Violence and the Law, and enables students to read and write together around connected areas of research. A vibrant seminar programme attracts around 80 people each week from all over the region, where postdoctoral fellows, postgraduate students, academics from neighbouring institutions and international visiting scholars present their research in a non-threatening environment. An annual Winter School programme is run collaboratively by the University of the Western Cape, the SARCHI Chair for Social Change at Fort Hare University, and the Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota in the USA. The winter school is an integral element in the broader collaboration between these Centres and Projects, which includes intellectual and academic exchanges, conferences, and colloquia. The 2013 Winter School, “Acts to Ground: On the Politics of the Humanities”, will draw together leading international scholars, postdoctoral and doctoral students, to present research and build larger intellectual communities as they grapple with fundamental epistemological issues and problems in the study of the humanities in Africa. Finally, a coherent reading programme, the Programme on the Study of the Humanities in Africa (PSHA) brings together masters, doctoral, and postdoctoral fellows and faculty, into discussions on constructing new directions in humanities research. Centre for Humanities Research: Office 021 9593162/fax 021 9591282 or email

    • Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research

      The central brief of the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research is to embark on a project of intellectual reorientation, namely a significant rethinking of multilingualism and the development of a new discourse with which to approach interdisciplinary work in the humanities and the education sciences. The brief involves interrogating contemporary and historical African intellectual heritage through a critical review of the role of language and multilingualism in the colonial archive, and in the light of critical framings of multilingualism and diversity. Such an endeavour requires new modes of theoretical engagement, which in turn involves engaging with linguistic diversity in it multiple manifestations, local representations and practices by providing a careful historiography of linguistic diversity and a critical analysis of contemporary deliberation on multilingualism across academia and society at large. To the end, the Centre seeks to provide an intellectual space to further a critical rethinking of what kinds of questions we should be asking of language, literary and cultural study, strengthening existing interdisciplinary projects or leading to new ones, and enabling challenging questions to be asked of the disciplines themselves in the reconstitution of a post-apartheid humanities.

    • Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice

      The greatest strength of the Desmond Tutu Centre is the diversity of researchers, at all levels, working under its auspices. What each of these scholars hold in common, is their desire to challenge - contextually, theoretically, and methodologically - asymmetrical systems of power and commonly accepted assumptions about the social world and human experiences. The Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice champions research and teaching that endeavours to explore, excavate, and explain the multiple and complex ways that these research areas, questions, topics, and projects intersect. The Centre has five main thematic focus areas; Religion and Gender, Religion and the Economy, Religion and the Environment, Religion and Politics, and Religion and Education. Given the transdisciplinary philosophy of the DTC, these thematic foci do not function as discrete categories but rather as guidelines for illustrating the depth and breadth of the Centre’s undertakings. The African Journal of Gender and Religion (AJGR) is the first, online, peer-reviewed, open access journal for the trans-disciplinary study of gender and religion in Africa. The AJGR is a bi-annual publication housed in The Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice.


 Dean's Message

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    Dean's Message

    The Faculty of Arts has gained national and international recognition through its academic offerings in the domains of both the arts and the humanities

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