Home > Curriculum > Overview



According to the Diagnostic Report of the National Planning Commission (NPC), released in June 2011, poverty in South Africa (SA) is still pervasive, and insufficient progress has been made in reducing inequality. Millions of people remain unemployed, spatial and structural patterns exclude the poor from the fruits of development, infrastructure is poorly located, under-maintained and insufficient to foster higher growth; there is a widespread disease burden, public services are uneven and often of poor quality, and SA remains a divided society (NPC, 2011). The diagnostic report provides a compelling case for positioning universities as key players in efforts to advance social justice in South Africa. This is because, as knowledge producers and transmitters, universities have a key role to play in helping to shape policies, plans, values and capacities that support sustainable growth, ethical practises, human development and equity.

All courses at a University seek to promote the acquisition of critical and analytical skills needed for active citizenship and knowledge about theories which can be used to engage with development challenges. In addition, the University offers many courses, named degrees and specialisations, which are explicitly geared to equipping students with the skills and conceptual tools to engage with the problems of poverty and inequality in South Africa. We have compiled a sample of such courses and programmes to enable potential students and members of the public to see what courses are available, and identify courses or programmes that may be of interest. We have not included general degrees such as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Science, etc., as these degrees consist of many different combinations of courses to suit the interests of individual students within the requirements laid down for these degrees. Many of the general degrees include courses which may also have an orientation towards building an understanding of poverty and inequality and social justice.

The courses and programmes have been grouped according to key themes which were explored in the Carnegie 3 Conference on Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality held in 2012 according to the dominant discipline, namely Education; Environment and Resources; Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Strategies; Gender; Health; Land and Agriculture; Macro-economic policy and Development Theories; Public Administration; Public Space, Safety and Violence; Social Justice and Social Change, Social Services and Development; Towns and Cities; and Unemployment and Labour.

Brief outlines of each course and programme are provided, with links to faculty handbooks. Additional information about the course and programmes can be accessed from the handbooks or from programme and course conveners. Handbooks can be located at

Note: To access the information on particular courses or programmes in the Faculty Handbooks to which the outlines are linked, you will need to use the course/programme codes or the actual names of the courses or programmes once you have opened the relevant handbooks.