Study Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Study Abroad in Stellenbosch: Courses

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Most courses meet for 45 contact hours and are recommended for 3 credits (shown in parentheses) although 4 and 2 credit courses are also available. All courses are taught in English. These courses are a sample of those offered on the AIFS programs at the University of Stellenbosch. Courses may change at the discretion of Stellenbosch University.

General Education Program (formerly IPSU)

Students may choose up to 2 courses from the General Education program of courses at Stellenbosch University, specially designed for study abroad students. In addition to the regular GEP courses available each semester, a series of 2-credit English Electives are available as well as the 9-credit Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement program. See below for more information and sample courses with course descriptions.

GEP (IPSU) Courses

Afrikaans: Language and Culture 114/214 (3) | Afrikaans for Beginners

Basic Afrikaans for foreigners. Enables students to listen with growing comprehension to everyday social conversation, speak and develop vocabulary as well as read basic Afrikaans.

Art 114/214 (4) | Short Course in Digital Photography and Picture Framing

Examines three photographic practices that are relevant to the Southern African context, namely social documentary, portraiture and fine art photography. Students interested in this courses should have a digital camera with a manual mode setting. Alternatively, they can rent cameras when in Stellenbosch. Acceptance by pre-approval only.

German 114/214 (3) | German for Beginners

After completing the German evening course, a student should be able to: talk about himself/herself, his/her life and surroundings, the weather and other basic conversational topics; understand basic texts; understand and react to a basic conversation in German.

History 214/314 (3) | Overview of South African History

Topics include Africa and the West in the 19th century, colonial policies in Africa; political, cultural and economic impact of the colonialization of Africa in the 19th century, the establishment of new black empires and white republics in the interior in the 19th century and the Mineral Revolution, the making of a new political and cultural society.

Political Science 314/414 (3) | The Role of Gender, Culture and the State in South Africa

The dominant theme of the course will be women’s political progress and continued social hardships. Among the various topics to be discussed: identity politics, women’s collective mobilisation in changing political landscapes, LGBTI right, politics of the womb, reproductive rights, sexuality and FGM.

Criminal Justice 314/414 (3) | | Transitional Justice in Africa

This course looks at the dilemmas facing societies emerging from war that choose to confront past human rights’ violations: who to prosecute, how to prosecute when the legal infrastructure has been destroyed and what are the risks of prosecution in an unstable society?

International Relations 314/414 (3) | China-Africa Relations

China is now Africa’s largest trading partner, outpacing more traditional partners in Europe and the United States. This course offers a comprehensive overview of the China-Africa relationship, covering political, economic, historic aspects, as well as examining environmental and sustainable impacts of the relationship in the era of climate change. The course highlights the many challenges faced by the current China-Africa engagement, but also stresses the possible benefits that both African states and China can gain from the relationship.

Sociology 214/314 (3) | Politics and Cultural Change in South Africa

A selection of social issues that reflect the complexity of contemporary South African society. Examples of themes include: social change; poverty and development; social institutions such as the family, education and religion; crime and security; health, the body and HIV/AIDS; political and economic relationships.

Global Health 214/314 (3) | HIV and AIDS: A South African Perspective

This course develops the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in students as future leaders and professionals to manage HIV prevention and care in the workplace, both locally and abroad.

Xhosa: Language and Culture 114/214 (3) | Xhosa for Beginners

A communicative approach develops the language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, within a cultural context. Students learn the basics of the Xhosa language and culture (includes visits to various Xhosa communities, restaurants and church services).

Education/ Social Justice: 214/314 (3) | Equity, Leadership and Transformation in the Global Classroom

This module aims to develop leadership and thought skills on the importance and challenges of a social justice approach with a focus on equity, discrimination and transformation in the global classroom. We explore modern racism, privilege, discrimination, oppression and structural injustice.

  • How do we exhibit leadership in a transform(ed)(-ing) and divers(ified)(-ing) classroom?
  • Why do our own worldviews and thinking on diversity matter?
  • What are the challenges of true equality?
  • What are the skills we need to enhance equity in our environments?

This interactive experiential learning module will equip participants to critically reflect and evaluate their contextual/subjective worldview in the milieu of social justice issues in education institutions of the 21st century. We will journey to deepen our understanding of achieving equality in an unequal society through positive equity-based measures.

By using real world case studies, from universities (with South African universities as foci) and civil society, we will uncover the layered challenges and opportunities faced by institutions still dealing with the vestiges of a colonial past whilst building on new models for inclusivity. Topics will include human rights, social determinants of health, unfair discrimination, various forms of harassment, empathy skills, mediation as alternative dispute resolution and the cycle of socialisation. Along with these topics social media-based bullying, micro-aggressions, power & status, disability, embracing gender expression, queer sexualities and HIV/Aids will be engaged. We will also discover how stigma (internal and external) and discrimination contribute to individual and systemic vulnerability. Keeping these topics in mind, participants will be expected to explore learning/unlearning opportunities within their graduate programmes/organisations with a view to greater equity in the global classroom.

English Electives

Each semester a series of 2-credit English elective courses are offered in Stellenbosch. These change every semester but below is a list of courses AIFS students have taken in the past. Information on the new courses for your semester can be obtained from the AIFS Resident Director.

English 314/414 (2) (January to June only) | Women Writers Interrogating Empire

In this elective students will be employing the term “empire” to refer to various but pervasive, encompassing and insidious forms of power, examining how a range of women writers have depicted, analyzed and interrogated the ‘empire/s’ they were confronted with.

English 314/414 (2) (January to June only) | African-American Experiences

This course examines African American experiences as portrayed in the fiction of four major writers in the African American canon: Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin. Among the thematic concerns explored are questions of race, violence, family, trauma, healing, religion and sexuality.

English 314/414 (2) (January to June only) | From Kabul to Beirut, via Tel Aviv: Contemporary Middle Eastern Literature in English

Students will read three novels from contemporary literature written in English which has in recent years become more visible. Reacting against popular media portrayals of the Middle East, these narratives engage with particular conflicts within regional and national geographies but also demonstrate an acute awareness of global connections in a post 9/11 world.

English 314/414 (2) (January to June only) | Sexing the Screen – Gender in Film

Adopting an historical and theoretical approach, we will focus on the ways in which gender is signified in film, how gender is implicated in the cinematic gaze, and how sexuality in cinema informs, reflects or subverts generic conventions and the larger context surrounding the film.

English 348/448 (2) (July to November only) | Naming the Strange: Africa and Its Many Urbanisms

“By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.” - Jane Jacobs. This course will engage literary representations of the contemporary African city in light of a growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship that figures the urban as a site of creativity and crisis. We will explore tropes of migration, alterity, spectacle and uncertainty as they unfold in novels by NoViolet Bulawayo, “We Need New Names” (2013), Teju Cole, “Open City” (2011) and Lauren Beukes, “Zoo City” (2010). Alongside the fiction, we will work with critical studies by AbdouMaliq Simone, Achille Mbembe and Lindsay Bremner among others, as well as documentaries on Johannesburg, Kinshasa and Khayelitsha. Finally, the elective will gesture towards thinking through the city as an interface for transnational and cosmopolitan encounters that locate the African urban within discourses of the “global South”.

English 348/448 (2) (July to November only) | | ‘The Voiceful Sea’: Poetic Perspectives on the Modern Subject

Humankind’s engagement with the material fact and imaginative force of the sea goes far back in time; one of Western culture’s foundational literary texts, Homer’s “The Odyssey,” is to an important extent the account of a sea voyage. In this course we will join the conversation by approaching the sea from some of the perspectives offered by poetry. Starting with a basic overview of the weight of oceanic metaphorics in Western culture, we will devote the bulk of our attention to the question of how, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the sea became a means for poets to engage with the question of the modern subject.

English 348/448 (2) (July to November only) | Redemption Songs: Slavery and Poetry

In this elective, we will explore the history and experience of slavery through readings of poetry. We will think about how the history of slavery can be understood as a point of connection between Africa, Europe and North America. We will think about how Africa is figured variously by black American poets as a space of refuge, the site of authenticity and origin, and also as a space of death that negates the possibility of return. We will also engage with ideas about cultural haunting. We will read “Theory” (in the broadest sense of the word, historical articles, articles poets have written about their own work, as well as criticism) and we will read and analyze poems. Through the discussions generated by the material we read, the course will engage with the politics of race and representation in the present.

English 348/448 (2) (July to November only) | Exploring South Africanness in Recent Fiction

This elective looks at three texts published in post-apartheid South Africa. Writing about debut novels and the expansion of “South Africanness” in fiction, Margaret Lenta writes: “South African debut novels which have appeared since 1999, although diverse in their nature, and often related to the ethnic or language group of their authors, demonstrate a general awareness of new freedoms and new developments in South African society, as well as registering disappointment with the new regime.” C.A. Davids’ debut novel will be used to explore some of these notions, while Achmat Dangor’s collection of short stories allows for an exploration of South Africanness that is largely informed by the various spaces that Dangor claims as “home”. In examining Verwoerd’s autobiography, the elective considers ways in this genre is developing in South Africa.

English 348/448 (2) (July to November only) | Creative Writing and Literature

This course will harness your creative abilities, enabling you to discover how to turn everyday situations into poetry and fiction. Through exercises and guidance from your tutor, you will become more aware of your writing strengths while developing a personal style and voice in a dynamic, innovative, collaborative learning community. The emphasis of the course is cross-genre, highlighting the needs and challenges faced by a contemporary writer. It encourages growth as you share critical assessments of your writing with other novice writers. You will also benefit from the experience of renowned local and international authors through additional seminars. Assessment takes the form of a creative portfolio that combines research, essays and original creative pieces. A determination to discover new heights of expression is an essential quality for anyone embarking on this course.

Learning for a Sustainable Community Engagement Program

Students interested in the LSCE program must indicate this with their application. Admission is by selection only. Please see the Academics Overview page for details on admission requirements for this program.

Learning for Sustainable Community Engagement Course (9)

The objective of this exciting module is to provide international students with the opportunity to demonstrate their global citizenship through a service learning experience. Students will develop an understanding of the historical background and current issues impacting on community life and problems in South Africa and will experience it first-hand through service to a South African community while earning academic credits.

Sustainable Community Engagement is a term that describes the contact between the student and a community where the service learning experience will take place. The semester Service Learning projects are with Lynedoch Primary School, located in Lynedoch Eco-village, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. This course primarily focuses on work with children who are all from backgrounds of abject poverty and whose lives are characterized by impaired bio-psycho-social well-being. It therefore provides a very good cross-section of the kinds of difficulties that typify the development environment.

The overarching long-term objective of the program is eradicating ’poverties’ through knowledge partnerships and enabling the participant to develop their global citizenship through sustainable community engagement and to broaden their understanding of South African history and contemporary life.

The course includes lectures on the theory behind community engagement and sustainability. Students will be able to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice on their community engagement and will undertake assignments which include creating a community profile, conducting a skills audit and needs assessment. Students will be able to think analytically, critically and practically about their work through reflection, observation, supervision, planning and experience.

Full Curriculum Program

Choose 4 or 5 courses for up to 15 credits. Courses in English are available to AIFS students in the following five faculties at Stellenbosch University. Examples of fields of study as well as a link to the full course catalogue are listed below each Faculty. Please see the Mainstream Courses Offered 2017for instructions on course codes and information. For questions regarding course availability, pre-requisites, timetabling and any other course-related questions, please contact the AIFS Stellenbosch Admissions Officer.

Faculty of Agri-Sciences
Agriculture; Aquaculture; Biochemistry; Conservation Ecology; Epidemiology; Farming; Food Sciences and Policy; Geography and Environmental Studies; Plant Genetics; Soil Sciences; Viticulture and Wine Biotechnology

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Ancient Cultures; Art History; Ethnomusicology; Fine Arts; Graphic Design; History; Languages (African languages, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Latin, Sign Language); Literature; Music; Psychology; Service Learning; Sociology / Social Work; Theatre Arts, Visual Studies

Faculty of Economic and Management Services
Business; Business Ethics; Computer Science; Economics; Entrepreneurship; Industrial Psychology; Information Systems; Logistics / Quantitative Management; Marketing; Mathematics; Operations Research; Project Management; Statistics; Taxation

Faculty of Science
Anatomy; Applied Mathematics; Biochemistry; Biodiversity and Ecology; Biology; Botany; Chemistry; Clinical Psychology; Genetics; Geology; Microbiology; Physics; Sport Science; Zoology

Faculty of Theology
Biblical Hebrew; Ecclesiology; Missiology; Old and New Testament; Practical Theology; Systematic Theology


See below some sample courses which have been popular with previous study abroad students, with course descriptions. Please note, this is far from a comprehensive list of courses available.

Art 106/206 (4) | Photography

Examines three photographic practices that are relevant to the Southern African context, namely social documentary, portraiture and fine art photography. Students interested in this courses should have a digital camera with a manual mode setting. Alternatively, they can rent cameras when in Stellenbosch.

Conservation Ecology 212 (3) (January to June only) | Conserving Nature

Covers the importance of biodiversity for the maintenance of ecosystems including; What is biodiversity; a brief history of biodiversity; the importance of biodiversity; global patterns in biodiversity; human impacts and species extinctions; co-evolution and the collapse of ecosystems and ecosystem services, water conservation, the medicinal value of biodiversity, maintaining biodiversity, conventions, sustainable use and approaches to conservation and the role of conservation in development and policy.

Conservation Ecology 424 (4) (January to June only) | Wildlife management in a changing environment

Decision-making in the face of uncertainty; sustainable harvesting – terrestrial and marine environments; wildlife management – principles, habitat and game assessment, grazing management, sustainable utilisation, game capture and translocation, wildlife diseases, nutrition and contraception methods; planning and executing conservation-based research; case studies in conservation research.

Geo-Environmental Science 124 (4) | Introduction to Human-Environmental Systems

Nature of human geography; Demography of world population; Food resources; Urbanisation: models of urban structure, functional areas in cities, cities in developing countries; Politicogeographical organisation: nations and states in conflict, regions in the news; Environmental systems on a global scale: fluvial, arid, karst, coastal and glacial environments; Ecosystems and humans; Utilisation of environmental resources: global occurrence, use and depletion of nonrenewable energy, water and soil resources; Practical mapping and graphics.

History 114 (3) (January to June only) | Introduction to the Main Global Patterns and Developments in History

Topics include Nomadic societies, agriculture revolution and the emergence of established societies, the development of complex societies, the emergence of modernity and the industrial revolution, the historical construction of the modern globalizing world.

History 214 (3) (January to June only) | Key Processes in the Making of Western History

Topics include: State formation, the renaissance and revolutions; origins, dynamics and impact of historical revolutions; wealth and poverty in western history; and perspectives on systems such as socialism, capitalism and communism.

History 318 (3) (January to June only) | Wars, Decolonization and Globalization

Subjects discussed are international relations and cultural change; the social and cultural dimensions of WWI; the outbreak, course and aftermath of WWII; ecological problems in historical perspective; the Cold War; independence movements in Africa and India in a globalizing world.

History 144 (3) (July to November only) | Survey of South African History

Debates on the settlement of population groups in South Africa; Clashes in the interior: the historical significance of 19th-century migrations; The mineral revolution and its impact on modern South Africa; Afrikaner nationalism as a historical factor; Segregation and apartheid; Black nationalism and politics in the 20th century; South Africa and the outside world.

History 244 (3) (July to November only) | Africa and South Africa: Colonization and the Rearrangement of Societies

Topics include Africa and the West in the 19th century, colonial policies in Africa; political, cultural and economic impact of the colonialization of Africa in the 19th century, the establishment of new black empires and white republics in the interior in the 19th century and the Mineral Revolution, the making of a new political and cultural society.

Philosophy 212 (2) (January to June only) | Political Philosophy

Introductory study of the most important questions in classical and modern political philosophy. Topics include: the legitimation of political authority, the social contract, the justification of the state, the problem of private property, the nature of and condition for freedom and the debate between liberalism and communitarianism.

Philosophy 334 (3) (July to November only) | African Philosophy

A thorough discussion of prominent themes, texts and thinkers in African Philosophy. The module may include themes such as the following: metaphilosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and feminism.

Social Anthropology 252 (2) (July to November only) | South African Anthropology

An overview of ethnographical work in South Africa, with specific attention to the changing theoretical and contextual dimensions.

Social Anthropology 324 (3) (January to June only) | Culture, Power and Identity

Nation-building and ethnicity. Assimilation, pluralism, multiculturalism in comparative perspective. Global inequalities and human rights. Difference and diversity in civil society.

Sociology 144 (3) (July to November only) | Social issues in South Africa

A selection of social issues that reflect the complexity of contemporary South African society. Examples of themes include: social change; poverty and development; social institutions such as the family, education and religion; crime and security; health, the body and HIV/AIDS; political and economic relationships.

Sociology 212 (2) (January to June only) | Poverty, Inequality and Development

Debates on the causes and meaning of poverty, inequality and development; critical thinking on underdevelopment and ‘sustainable development’; development initiatives in South Africa today.

Sociology 222 (2) (January to June only) | Race

Sociological understandings of race. The contemporary significance of race in South Africa. Race and social identities. Race and inequalities.

Theology 344 (3) | Public and Theology in Post Apartheid South Africa

The challenges of the young democratic society in post-apartheid South Africa are described and reflected upon from a theological perspective. Poverty, HIV/AIDS, racism, sexism, the morality crisis and the creation of a human rights culture.