The Faculty of Humanities as we know it to be today was formed in 1999, as a result of a merger of the Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Education, Music and the Michaelis School of Fine Art.

With over 6000 students, 75% of which at undergraduate level, the Faculty of Humanities is the second largest faculty at the University of Cape Town The Faculty comprises 19 vibrant academic departments located in three main clusters: the Arts, the Social Sciences and the Performing and Creative Arts. Common to all is a focus on the human condition, in all its dimensions.
With four SARChI Research Chairs, one Mellon Research Chair as well as 86 new and renewed NRF-rated researchers, UCT Faculty of Humanities enjoys a strong tradition in interdisciplinary research and teaching.  Our academics equip students with skills that are crucial for engaging with the material and non-material aspects of being human. We produce exceptional graduates who possess imagination, insight, mental agility and analytical skills. We prepare young people for a variety of career paths in the public and private sectors, in the media space, in the NGO sector and in research and academia.
Geographically our academic departments are housed on four UCT campuses, one in the city centre and three in Rondebosch. Hiddingh Campus is in the heart of Cape Town on the site of UCT's predecessor, The South African College, and houses the Michaelis School of Fine Art; the Drama Department and The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA). The majority of our academic departments are located on Upper Campus, while the School of Dance and the South African College of Music are located on Lower Campus.

UCT Faculty of Humanities is an Afropolitan institution, a centre of excellence on the continent and an intellectual meeting point between Africa and the world.

SARCHi Research Chairs:

  • Professor Carolyn Hamilton
  • Professor Rajend Mesthrie
  • Professor Abdulkader Tayob
  • Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza

Mellon Research Chair:

Click here to read more about Humanities research institutes.

NRF rated researchers:

There are a total of *89 NRF-rated Researchers in the Faculty of Humanities. Currently, our overall ratings for new or renewed NRF ratings for researchers is: 5 A, 29 B, 46 C and 6 Y. (*as at November 2017) Read more here.

  • Distinguished Teacher Awards:

    The Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA) is the highest accolade given to teaching staff at all levels within the university and recognises excellent teaching. The following are current members of staff of the Faculty of Humanities who have received the award:

    Academic Department Year of award
    Mr N Bakker School of Education 1988
    Professor H J Snyman School of Languages and Literatures 1989
    Associate Professor L Marx English Language and Literature 1992
    Professor N Worden Historical Studies 1992
    Mrs G Solomons School of Languages and Literatures 1993
    Associate Professor C Weare Drama 1993
    Associate Professor M Adhikari Historical Studies 1995
    Associate Professor R Mendelsohn Historical Studies 1996
    Professor D H Foster Psychology 1999
    Professor D Benatar Philosophy 1999
    Professor V Bickford-Smith Historical Studies 2000
    Associate Professor R S Edgecombe English Language and Literature 2001
    Professor H Philips Historical Studies 2001
    Professor A Mager Historical Studies 2002
    Associate Professor B Liebl South African College of Music 2003
    Dr H Schomer Psychology 2004
    Dr P Anderson English Language and Literature 2005
    Dr Z Erasmus Sociology 2006
    Associate Professor J Bennett African Gender Institute 2007
    Dr V Everson School of Languages and Literatures 2008
    Associate Professor C Clarkson English Language and Literature 2009
    Associate Professor M Steyn Sociology 2009
    Associate Professor M Campbell South African College of Music 2011
    Dr S Levine Social Anthropology 2011
    Dr H MacDonald Social Anthropology 2013
    Dr H Twiddle English Language and Literature 2013
    Dr I Rijsdijk Centre for Film and Media Studies 2013
    Dr J Hardman School of Education 2015
    Dr A Reisenberger School of Languages and Literatures 2015
  • UCT Book Awards:

    The UCT Book Award recognises the publication of outstanding books written by members of staff. Published works in any category, including monographs, textbooks, novels, collections and popularisations are eligible for consideration by the Book Award Committee.

    • Dr Litheko Modisane (Centre for Film and Media Studies) received the 2016 UCT Book Award for his new book South Africa's Renegade Reels. He wrote the book while doing his post-doc at UCT and the university of Michigan between 2010 and 2011. He has subsequently given talks on the book in various places including at Wits, UCT, University of Michigan, and the New School University in New York.

    • Associate Professor Sa'diyya Shaikh (Department of Religious Studies) received the 2015 UCT Book Award for  Sufi Narratives of Intimacy.Her book combines feminism and Sufism in such a unique way that critics have labelled it "ground-breaking" and "pioneering"

    • The 2014 UCT Book Award was presented to Professor Nicoli Nattrass (School of Economics) for her book The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back. This is the second time that Prof Nattrass recives this award; the first was in 2005 for her book, The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa.

    • Sirkusboere, a novel by Sonja Loots (School of Languages and Literatures) received the UCT Book Award in 2013.

    • The Jewish Book Council announced in 2010 that Place and Displacement in Jewish History and Memory: Zakor V'makor,edited by David Cesarani, Tony Kushner and Milton Shain (2009), placed as joint runner-up in the annual National Jewish Book Award in the category of Anthologies and Collections.
    • In 2009 Professor Pippa Skotnes of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts was awarded the prize for her work Claim to the Country: The Archive of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd.
    • In 2009 Prof Nigel Penn of the Department of Historical Studies was recognised for his book Forgotten Frontier: Colonist and Khoisan on the Cape's Northern Frontier in the 19th Century.
    • The UCT Book Award for 2007 was presented to Professor Bill Nasson of the historical studies department for his book Britannia's Empire - Making a British World (Tempus, 2004). This was his second such award.

    • The 2006 UCT Book Award was presented to Professor Peter Knox-Shaw, an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of English Language and Literature, for his work Jane Austen and the Enlightenment. Knox-Shaw was a full-time member and senior lecturer of the English department from 1975 to 1991. 

  • Creative Works Award:

    The UCT Creative Works Award gives recognition to major creative works (art works, performances, productions, compositions, architectural designs) produced by staff members.


    Associate Professor Jay Pather, Director of the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), re-imagines Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by creating a theatrical spectacle that includes directing, choreography and cabaret and bringing it to bear on the current state of the nation. Read more...


    Professor Mark Fleishman received the 2015 award for his long-running production, Every Year, Every Day, I am Walking. The mostly wordless play traces a fleeing child and her mother's trek from an unnamed and violence-riddled Francophone African country, to Cape Town, where the family struggles to settle. Through the eyes of the young girl, global audiences since 2006 have been shown a slice of the battles that the largely invisible migrant community in Cape Town fight continually. Read more....


    Associate Professor Johann van der Schijff received the 2013 award for his catalogue Community Punching Bag. Van der Schijff is a senior lecturer at the Michaelis School of Fine Art where he teaches new media in the undergraduate degree as well as doing postgraduate supervision. His sculptural/new media works have been exhibited nationally and internationally. His research interests are in the areas of computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques and the design of interactive systems. Read more...


    Professor of Sculpture Gavin Younge (Michaelis School of Fine Art) received the 2012 award for his 2011 solo exhibition Cheval de Bataille, a project commissioned by the French Monuments Council and which was housed in the Forteresse de Salses, a fortress in France that has run a vigorous contemporary art programme for many years. Read more..


    Emeritus Professor of History of Art, Michael Godby (Michaelis School of Fine Art) received the 2012 award for The Lie of the Land - Representations of the South African landscape, an exhibition he curated in 2010 and 2011. The project included scholarly essays on literary, cultural, polotical and environmental aspects of the South African landscape. Read more..


    Associate Professor Fritha Langerman (Michaelis School of Fine Art) was awarded the inaugural Creative Works Award in 2010 for Subtle Thresholds - a curated exhibition which examined the representation and classification of disease.Read more.