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The Department offers Arabic, French, German, and Latin Language and Culture Studies from the first year, which is a language acquisition course, to the second- and third-year levels, which are divided into modules. There are no languages requirements for any of these languages (meaning you will start learning the language from scratch in your first year), although knowledge of grammar terms will be helpful. 

In the second and third year, we start including Literature, Culture and Film Studies to our undergraduate programme in the respective languages. Classical Culture is the study of the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. It is offered in English, and no knowledge of Classical Greek or Latin is required.


Arabic is one of the major languages in the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, and some Mediterranean countries. There are job opportunities in the fields of academia, translation/interpretation, teaching, communications, international finance, industry, government, law, and religion.

First-year Course in Arabic
Lectures per week: 2 one-hour periods
Tutorials per week: 1 one-hour period
Textbook: First Steps in Arabic (Y. Mohamed and M. Haron)

No prior knowledge of Arabic is required to do the first-year course. Students will be introduced to the writing and reading of the Arabic script. They will be taught elementary grammatical structures and will acquire the basic communication skills.

The evaluation will be based on tests, assignments, oral and a final examination.

Senior Courses in Arabic
The senior programmes will cover more advanced grammar and conversational Arabic. The undergraduate courses aim to develop the communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking in Arabic. It will also introduce basic Arabic literature such as the study of a short story, a play, and a novel. 

The different Arabic modules include:
  • Arabic II;
  • Arabic literary history;
  • Arabic/African literature: A short story;
  • Conversational Arabic 1;
  • Grammar and syntax 1;
  • Arabic III;
  • Conversational Arabic 2;
  • Grammar and syntax 2; and
  • African novel in English.

Classical Culture

Classical Culture offers a study of the Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. These are regarded as amongst the major civilisations in the world. Its influences can still be seen in mythology, culture, language, politics, philosophy, and literature - to name only a few - around the world.

Classical Culture I starts with a study of the Trojan War as an introduction to well-known - and less well-known - Greek myths. The Trojan War is also a springboard for studying the great Greek poet, Homer, and his influence on the early history of Greece. In the second semester, the story of the Trojan War is used to offer a fascinating look at the early history of Rome and that city’s foundation myths. 

Classical Culture II looks at the phenomenon of tragedy in the ancient Greek and Roman world. It offers an exploration of how myths were used in tragedy plays and an examination of what it is that makes tragedy plays tragic. In the second semester, the focus shifts to the culture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, specifically considering two questions: (1) How do we know what we know about the past? and (2) How do we make sense of the similarities between how we live today and how the ancient Greeks and Romans lived?

Classical Culture III explores the field of historiography, i.e. the science of writing history. It looks at the major Greek and Roman historians, paying attention to the development of the science of history, especially the search for objective reality and the place of myths in history texts. In the second semester, the focus shifts to a major Greek or Roman poet. At the moment, we are looking at the Roman poet, Ovid, who wrote many erotic poems, which eventually got him in trouble with the emperor, Augustus, and which also display a feminist bias.  


French is one of the major international languages. It is spoken widely in Africa, Europe, North America, and South-East Asia. As our international links increase, the need for French-speaking people in various fields (commerce, medicine, engineering, education, tourism) will increase. Why should you learn French? Firstly, it will greatly increase your employability in the global market, and it could also open the doors to various wonderful pleasures.

First-year Course in French
Lectures per week: 3 one-hour periods
Tutorials per week: 1 one-hour period
Textbook: Entre-Amis
Evaluation: Continuous evaluation throughout the year, with an examination at the end of the year.

If you have never learnt French before, you will do the first-year course. You will learn the ‘basics’ of the French language, which means introducing yourself, offering (and refusing) invitations, asking for (and giving) directions, agreeing, denying, predicting. Generally, you will learn the things that you would need to ‘get by’ if you were to find yourself, suddenly, in the middle of a French-speaking city where no-one speaks your language. 

Grammar-wise, we are talking about things like verbs (present, past, and future), prepositions, the various pronouns etc. But what is important is that we do not try to do everything. We stick to the essentials, and we try to do it in a supportive way, with quite a bit of emphasis on speaking (in small groups where possible).

Senior Courses in French

French II
French II consists of four modules which can be taken by learners who have passed the first-year course with at least 60% and learners who have passed Matric French with at least a C symbol.

The second-year modules have a strong emphasis on comprehension, reading, speaking, and let us not forget grammar. Literature will be introduced in the second semester.

French III
This year is by and large devoted to honing and perfecting the speaking, reading, and writing skills developed before. We take a particular look at the French press (magazines, newspapers, TV). We will do some work on the stylistics of the French language, occasionally making comparisons with English. There is a selection of longer (literary) texts, including some plays and novels.


Getting to know another language and culture is always an exciting prospect. It opens your vision to new worlds. Furthermore, German language skills are very useful when applying for jobs. For jobs in Cape Town requiring candidates to speak German, visit and get an idea of what is on offer. Those interested and qualified to do postgraduate studies and research in Germany, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) could interest you. (


First-year Course in German (GER111 and GER121)  
In the first-year courses, students learn the basic skills to communicate in German. Learning about Germany and other German-speaking countries form part of the course.

Second-year Course in German (GER201)  
This is also a one-year course and focuses on language learning as well as literary texts and/or films.
Third-year Courses in German (First semester: GER311/312 and second semester: GER321/322)   
The third-year semester courses consist of both a language and literature stream. The two semester courses (GER311 and GER321) focus on language acquisition. There is an option for students who wish to do so, to write the Zertifikat Deutsch (B1) examination, which is an internationally recognised examination offered and administered by the Goethe Institute. For more information, see The semester courses (GER312 and GER322) are literature courses covering the history of literature, poetry and a novel as well as films.


Latin was the language of the ancient Romans. A legacy of the Roman empire, Latin was the language of international communication for approximately 1 500 years, and it has had a tremendous effect on modern languages. More than half the English vocabulary is based on Latin, and the romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian) are direct descendants of Latin. Latin has vibrant literature that merits study for its own sake, and because it influenced - and continues to influence - poets, playwrights, and novelists in many different cultures and languages.

The study of Latin will be beneficial to students of literature, cultural studies, and language and linguistic programmes, as well as law students since Latin still forms an integral part of legal studies.

First-year Latin (Latin101)
Lectures per week: 3 one-hour periods
Tutorials per week: 1 one-hour period
Assessment: Class tests, worksheets, assignments, quarterly tests, and an examination at the end of the year.

The first-year course in Latin requires no previous knowledge of the language. The aim of the course is that students acquire the ability to read simple Latin texts and that they become aware of the influence of Latin on English (and other languages). Students will also be introduced to Roman culture and mythology, as well as Latin expressions used in English and (especially) in legal texts.

Senior Courses in Latin

Latin II
The second-year course in Latin consists of four modules:
  • A survey of Latin literature;
  • Examples of classical Latin prose;
  • Examples of classical Latin poetry; and
  • A survey of Roman history, concentrating on the Republican period.
Latin III
The third-year course in Latin consists of four modules:
  • Latin drama, comedy and/or a tragedy;
  • Examples of Latin poetry from the Silver period;
  • Examples of Latin prose from the Silver period; and
  • A survey of Roman history, concentrating on the Early Empire.