Overview of Rhodes University Humanities Faculty | Courses and Curriculum

Rhodes University Humanities Degree Structure – Faculty of Humanities | This post contains full information regarding the Humanities Degree program at Rhodes University RU.

Rhodes University Humanities Faculty

The Faculty of Humanities offers an excellent liberal arts education − an education for life and an education which is formative for almost any career choice.

A liberal arts education provides students with critical reasoning skills, in particular the ability to analyse and evaluate arguments, to probe for hidden assumptions, to organise complex material in coherent ways; with an ability to understand the views of others; the ability to communicate well; a capacity to cope with ambiguity and uncertainty; and an acknowledgement of one’s own ignorance.

It is an education that introduces students to the formative moments of their histories, their societies and their identities. It allows students to enjoy the worlds of music and drama and literature and languages.

The Faculty offers a wide range of possible degrees and course combinations.

The Faculty provides an education and not a training. As such it provides students with the critical skills and characteristics which are so important for our individual and national development. All of the above may be combined with degrees or courses which are more immediately career oriented than the liberal arts education. Specialised degrees in Journalism or Fine Art or Music are offered, but all within the context of a broad rather than a technical education.


A BA degree normally takes three years to complete. Ten courses need to be completed which must include two major subjects. To obtain a major subject, first, second and third year level courses must be completed, e.g. History 1, History 2, History 3. Some majors require only two courses, e.g. Philosopy 2, Philosophy 3 and Classical Civilisation 2, Classical Civilisation 3. These are prerequisites to being admitted into these 2 major courses though.

Possible major subjects are listed below:

Afrikaans en Nederlands (2)                                       Greek+

Anthropology                                                              History

Applied Mathematics (2)                                            Human Kinetics and Ergonomics

Art History and Virtual Culture                                   Organisational Psychology (2)

BA Studio Practice (Fine Art)                                      Industrial & Economic Sociology (2)

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Classical Civilisation (2)                                             Journalism & Media Studies

Computer Science                                                      Latin+

Drama                                                                      Legal Theory

Economics                                                                 Mathematics

English                                                                       Mathematical Statistics

English Language and Linguistics                                  Music

Environmental Science (2)                                           Philosophy (2)

Ethnomusicology                                                         Politics

French++                                                                   Psychology

Geography                                                                  Sociology

German*                                                                    Xhosa (Non Mother Tongue)*

+ With the exception of Latin IB, other Latin and Greek courses will only be offered if staffing resources permit. The courses indicated with (2) are possible 2 year major subjects. Please note that apart from Classical Civilisation, all courses do have a specific 1st year subject prerequisite.

++ An Introductory course is offered in this language, four years being required to complete a major in French if one does not begin with Matric level.

* The German and isiXhosa courses are designed for students with little or no prior knowledge of the language.

These Sample Curricula are provided to illustrate how to build up a three year BA degree. Note that these are only examples of numerous possible curricula. Ancillary subjects may be chosen from a wide variety of Humanities courses.


First year (4 courses) Second year (4 courses) Third year (2 courses)
English 1

Geography  1

Psychology 1*

Xhosa (NMT) 1*

English 2

Geography 2

Psychology 2*

History and Appreciation of Music*

English 3

Geography 3

First year (4 courses) Second year (4 courses) Third year (2 courses)
Economics 1

Philosophy 1

Politics 1

Maths 1

Economics 2

Philosophy 2

Politics 2*

French 1*

Economics 3

Philosophy 3



First year (4 years) Second year (4 courses) Third year (2 courses)
Human Kinetics and Ergonomics 1

Psychology 1

History 1*

English 1*

Human Kinetics and Ergonomics 2

Psychology 2

Applied Physiology and Anatomy++

Computer Science 1

Human Kinetics and Ergonomics 3

Psychology 3




* ancillary courses

++ compulsory course for Human Kinetics and Ergonomics 3


First year (3 courses) Second year (3 courses) Third year (2 courses) Fourth year (2 courses)
Art History and Visual Culture 1

BFA Studio Practice 1

One other BA course


Art History and Visual Culture 2

BFA Studio Practice 2

One other BA course


Art History and Visual Culture 3

BFA Studio Practice 3

Art History and Visual Culture 4 and BFA Studio Practice 4.

Practical options in Fine Art Studio Practice are: Graphic Design, Painting, Photographic Arts and




First year (4 courses) Second year (4 courses) Third year (2 courses) Fourth year (1 courses)
Journalism 1

English 1 and/or English Language & Linguistic 1

Economics 1

Politics 1


Journalism 2

English 2 and/or English Language & Linguistic 2

History 2

Sociology 1


Journalism 3

English 3 and/or English Language & Linguistic 3


Journalism 4


It must be stressed that these are only examples of a number of possible curricula.



First year (4 courses) Second year (4 courses) Third year (2 courses) Fourth year
Instrumental Music Studies 1

Music 1

Ethnomusicology 1

One other BA course (optional extra: Sound Technology 1)

Instrumental Music Studies 2

Music 2

Ethnomusicology 2

(or Sound Technology 1)

One BA course

Instrumental Music Studies 3

Students must choose between Music 3 and Ethnomusicology 3


Five papers from a wide variety



To obtain a BSocSc degree you must obtain 10 credits. At least 5 credits (courses), including at least one major subject, must be chosen from the following:

Anthropology                                      Economics                  Organisational Psychology

Industrial & Economic Sociology         Politics                        Psychology


An African Language may be taken as the second major subject with a major in Anthropology. Other subjects which may be taken as major subjects for the BSocSc degree: Geography; History; Information Systems; Legal Theory; English Language & Linguistics; Mathematics; Mathematical Statistics; Philosophy; Computer Science; Environmental Science; Management.

The following are possible examples of degree structures:

First year (4 courses) Second year (4 courses) Third year (2 courses)
Anthropology 1

Sociology 1

Politics 1

Psychology 1

Economics 1

Management 1

Accounting 1

Anthropology 2

Sociology 2

Politics 2

Xhosa 1(NMT)

Psychology 2

Economics 2

Management 2

Organisational Psychology 2

Statistics 1D/TOF

Anthropology 3

Sociology 3

Any two of: Economics 3

Management 3

Organisational Psychology 3


* if you intend majoring in Management in a Bachelor of Social Science you need to obtain credit in Accounting 1, Economics 1, Statistics 1D and Theory of Finance (TOF) – therefore a good mathematics mark would be a requirement.

Humanities Extended Studies Programme

This programme offers an alternative route through a Rhodes degree in the humanities faculty. This programme is intended for South African English Second Language speakers who show potential to succeed at university but who might not achieve the entry requirements for a 3 year humanities degree. It is open to students with a matric exemption, not less than 28 admission points and at least a 4 for English as an additional language.

Entering this programme generally means that the degree must be taken over four years instead of three. Students take two mainstream humanities subjects from a limited choice of subjects offered. These two subjects are supported with additional extended studies classes. These classes aim to develop reading skills and conceptual understanding of the subjects, to give students assistance in preparing for tutorials and assignments and to develop subject specific vocabulary. In addition students take general skills classes which aim to provide students with skills they need to cope academically at university. Students also take computer literacy classes and an information literacy course.

After the first year, students can choose any subjects open to humanities students. Extended studies students are usually limited to taking a maximum of 3 credits in one year.

Sample extended studies degree

Year 1: (2 credits plus 2 support credits) Anthropology 1      Journalism and Media Studies 1

Year 2: (3 credits)                   Anthropology 2           Politics 1          Economics 1

Year 3: (3 credits)                  Anthropology 3           Politics 2          Psychology 1

Year 4: (2 credits)                   Economics 2                Politics 3

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