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 Welcome

Author: Dr Maria Florence

 A message from our Head of Department

A Message from our Head of Department: Dr Maria Florence

Welcome to the UWC Department of Psychology website.

Psychology is a very interesting and relevant field of study. It includes diverse applications to the fields of health and education and even such diverse fields as development studies, politics, and environmental studies. With many options available to you as well as many institutions offering courses in psychology, I want to capture what is distinctive about the Department of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape.

Like many other psychology departments, we offer both undergraduate and postgraduate studies. We train students from 1st to 3rd year in several programmes across the university. This can be followed by an Honours degree in Psychology, which in turn can be followed by Masters degrees in Clinical Psychology or Research Psychology. After successfully completing these Masters programmes, students can register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as Clinical Psychologists or Research Psychologists. More information is available regarding these qualifications on this website.

Like many other departments, we have staff involved in diverse areas of research such as substance abuse, grief and bereavement, HIV research, women’s reproductive health, evidence-based practice in PTSD, experiences of first-generation students, animal-assisted therapy, family and community resilience, as well as much child and adolescent research, including early childhood development, attachment, and child wellbeing among others. 

The uniqueness of the department can be traced to its historical role in the development of a more relevant and socially just psychology, that received much national and international recognition. It was the first institution to gather progressive psychologists for the Psychology of Apartheid Conference in the '90s and this provided the impetus for the unification of previously divided psychologists under the banner of PSYSSA (Psychological Society of South Africa).

Today, Saths Copper is now Head of the International Union of Psychological Sciences, Norman Duncan is Vice-Principal: Academic at the University of Pretoria, Umesh Bawa is Head of International Relations at UWC and Tyrone Pretorius is the Rector at UWC. These people all hail from UWC, specifically the Department of Psychology. There are many other leading national and international figures that started their careers at UWC and some of these include Ashley Van Niekerk, as director, and Kopano Ratele as co-director, of the Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council, as well as Garth Stevens as the Dean of Arts at Wits University. These are just some of the many individuals who typify the contribution of the department to the landscape of national and international psychology. 

While these individuals are no longer within the department, this legacy continues with the current staff composition. The vision of a transformed, socially just society through collective effort remains our guiding vision. Academic and administrative staff work together with students and a rich network of associations outside the department (most importantly local communities) to realise this vision.  

It is therefore a pleasure to invite you to be part of this vision in the context of the current local and global challenges that we are all facing. 

​We look forward to hearing from you.​​​​​

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