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The Dean's Message

Welcome to the UWC Law Faculty!

The UWC Law Faculty was established as an independent Faculty in 1979 and has a proud history in the struggle against apartheid as well as providing an excellent education in law. Many of its former staff and alumni have occupied and today still occupy high positions in academia, the judiciary, parliament, the executive, the legal profession and in business.

The Faculty hosts a Law Clinic as well as four departments:
  • Criminal Justice and Procedure;
  • Mercantile and Labour Law;
  • Private Law; and
  • Public Law and Jurisprudence.
The Faculty is also home to:
  • the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights (DOI);
  • the Centre for Legal Integration in Africa (CLIA);
  • the Centre for Transformative Regulation of Work (Centrow), which includes the Social Law Project (SLP);
  • the African Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice; and
  • the Global Environmental Law Centre (GELC).
Our permanent academic staff members hail not only from South Africa, but from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, and the Netherlands. Our extraordinary and adjunct professors are located in the United States, Mozambique, Australia, Kenya, the Netherlands, France, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Ethiopia.

The Faculty hosts students from at least 25 countries on the African continent and beyond, including Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Yemen, Cameroon, Congo, Namibia, Burundi, Sierra Leone, DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mauritius, Spain, and Turkey.

The Faculty has approximately 2400 students, of whom about 80 are doctoral students and 280 Master’s students.  The Faculty has the expertise to provide supervision for doctoral degrees on a wide range of legal topics and offers specialised master’s degrees in law in a number of fields. The Faculty furthermore offers two postgraduate diplomas, which each take in around 50 new students every year:
  • a postgraduate diploma in labour law, and
  • a postgraduate diploma in public law.
In as far as undergraduate studies are concerned, the Faculty offers various paths towards attaining the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree including:
  • a four-year LLB programme, with 300 new entrants per year
  • a five-year LLB programme (extended curriculum programme), with 80 new entrants per year
  • a B Com (law) degree with 50 new entrants per year.
The Faculty also offers a Higher Certificate in Forensic Examination, which takes in around 80 students per year.

The law degrees on offer enable one to become inter alia an advocate, attorney, prosecutor, magistrate, judge, legal advisor, consultant, mediator, researcher, legal editor, lecturer or professor. Those with law degrees can also work in various government departments (national, provincial and local) and in Parliament. Other career options with a law degree are to work at Non-Governmental Organisations, Public Interest Organisations or international bodies such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.

The Faculty is home to some of the best researchers in the country and currently has 15 National Research Foundation scholars, 7 of whom are B-rated.

Please join us in your journey towards a successful career in law.

Professor Jacques de Ville
Dean: Faculty of Law

History of Law Faculty

The history of the UWC Law Faculty starts with the establishment in 1960 of the University College of the Western Cape as a constituent college of the University of South Africa. A Department of Law was established in the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy in 1970, which presented the BA (law) and LLB degrees. A B.Com (law) degree was at the time presented by the Department of Commerce. In 1973, the Faculty of Commerce and Law was established. The Law Faculty became an independent faculty on 1 January 1979 when the Faculty of Commerce and Law was divided in two: the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and the Faculty of Law. The Law Faculty was first located in what is now the Education building, then in a ‘prefab’ building which burned down, and later in what is now the ‘old arts’ building. In 1992, the faculty moved to the current law building. The faculty today has approximately 2,800 students (500+ of whom are postgraduate students) and 125 staff members, 50 of which are permanent academic appointments.

Mission, vision and values

Vision 2035

By 2035, the Law Faculty wants to be widely recognised as one of the top law faculties on the African continent, as well as internationally, for the high quality of its academic programmes, the graduates it nurtures and develops, its research publications, and its social engagement, both in general, and in specialised fields.

Mission statement

The Faculty of Law –
  • is welcoming, diverse, intellectually vigorous, transformative, as well as student-centred, and
  • has a vibrant culture of research, learning, social engagement, and scholarly exchange.
The mission of the Faculty is to pursue and promote social justice by way of the access it provides to the legal and related professions to students from disadvantaged communities, the content of its academic programmes, its research publications, and its social engagement. Its resources are utilised to provide access to opportunities, to advance knowledge and develop expertise in fields of excellence that seek fair and equitable solutions to the challenges of our time. Its graduates are imbued with an ethos of social justice, and have the required skills and adaptive expertise to be successful in the changing world of work, and to make a positive impact on society.


In line with the values recognised in the UWC IOP, and in pursuit of the Faculty’s vision, staff members and students will pursue these values in the following ways –
  • academic excellence
This value will be pursued by putting in place measures that promote and encourage high quality learning and teaching, as well as research and supervision. The efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative arm of the Faculty, which supports the academic project, will be constantly enhanced.
  • engagement and responsiveness
The learning process and the pursuit of knowledge within the Faculty will engage with and respond to local and global challenges, and will have as aim the creation of a more just, equitable and inclusive society.  
  • integrity and accountability
The Faculty commits to a high standard of conduct and performance as set out in the Faculty guidelines relating to work conduct (2020), and decision-making (2020), which incorporate principles such as accountability, fairness, consistency, transparency, courtesy, and responsibility.
  • collegiality and collaboration
Within the Faculty, we treat each other with respect, and seek to collaborate across departments and units in the pursuit of knowledge.  As a Faculty, we seek to build partnerships and networks locally, regionally and internationally to the benefit of staff members and students in the era of globalisation.
  • inclusivity and diversity
We value our diversity as a Faculty and seek to create a place where everyone, irrespective of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality, feels welcome and valued; as well as to create an inviting hub of scholarship and exchange of ideas.

We play a pivotal role in the education of law students, as we teach the core courses in the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) syllabus. These are: Criminal Law, the Law of Criminal Procedure, the Law of Civil Procedure, and the Law of Evidence. The latter three are the so-called “tools of the trade”, as they include equipping the prospective lawyer with the know-how required to litigate cases in court.
The Department of Mercantile and Labour Law introduces students to the world of commercial and business law. The department’s focus is on developing students’ critical thinking skills and supplying them with practical, transferable capabilities to positively contribute to the legal profession or corporate field.
The Department of Private Law offers a full complement of courses at undergraduate level and selected courses at postgraduate level. These courses are presented by experienced and highly-regarded law teachers who use contemporary and innovative teaching and assessment methodologies to enhance their students’ learning experiences. The department also possesses considerable supervision expertise in regard to LLM theses as well as LLD/PhD dissertations.
The Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence prides itself on the extensive variety of courses it offers, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as its strong record of high quality research. In addition to the courses that are traditionally regarded as public law and jurisprudence courses (i.e. human rights law, public international law, constitutional law, jurisprudence, administrative law as well as legal interpretation), the department presents a diverse menu of elective courses at undergraduate level, including, among others advanced public law, environmental law, gender law, and the South African Bill of Rights.
Globalisation and technology have opened new opportunities for transnational criminal activities to target states and organisations. To combat these crimes, their cross-border character and transnational impact call for ever-greater inter-state cooperation.

Our web channel highlights our engagement with these challenges, and provides visitors with news, blogs, listings of our publications, and external resources.
Our newly launched Centre conducts pioneering research on the dialogue between state laws and indigenous African laws. Policy-makers everywhere will do well to focus on this dialogue, which offers a platform for the integration of legal orders in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our web channel highlights our engagement with the challenges and opportunities related to this, and provides visitors with news, blogs, listings of our publications, and external resources.
The Centre for the Transformative Regulation of Work (CENTROW) was established by in November 2020 by the Law Faculty of the University of the Western as a knowledge hub positioned to contribute to shaping policy and legislation on the future of work in South Africa. It is envisaged that specific problem areas in the field of labour market law and regulatory policy will be addressed through research projects grounded in social compact partnerships.
Global environmental degradation in the Anthropocene is a crisis that requires an innovative and radical legal response.
Our web channel highlights our efforts to contribute to that response, and provides visitors with news, blogs, listings of our publications, and external resources.
The Dullah Omar Institute is a unit of the Faculty of Law. It conducts research and advocacy and offers postgraduate programmes in constitutional law, governance and human rights.