We are happy to welcome an increasing number of students who transfer to UCT's Faculty of Humanities from other South African universities, or from universities abroad.

Applying to transfer:

  • Follow the UCT online application process.You will need to submit your tertiary record as well as your school-leaving exam achievements, and we will consider both as criteria for acceptance. We suggest that you submit your application after the release of your first-semester results, but it is likely that we will not make you a firm offer until your end-of-year results have been released.
  • University rules state that you must register at UCT for a minimum of 2 years before you can be granted a UCT degree, so you cannot transfer to UCT to complete only a final year.
  • We will usually transfer credits from another university,within certain limits; we will also only recognise courses which are roughly equivalent to courses which are part of a Humanities curriculum at UCT.
  • We will not assess credit transfers before you have successfully applied; transferring students go through the credit transfer process once they have arrived at UCT for Orientation, and just before they register.
  • Please note that we have many applications for transfer, and can accept only a fraction of them. As a rough guideline, you will need both the Matric/or other acceptable school leaving score, which would admit you to your Humanities programme, and a record of solid success (all passes, with marks in at least the high 60s) on a full university Humanities load elsewhere.

Transferring your credits from your previous institution

  • If you are continuing at UCT with subjects you took before – or even if you have done subjects at your other institution which you wish to count as electives towards your UCT degree – you will need to go through the credit transfer process, which is how we will reflect those external courses on your UCT academic record.
  • We transfer these courses by crediting you on your UCT record with the UCT course which is equivalent in content and course size to the course you did elsewhere; these are reflected with credit codes, CX, EX or CR (see below for what they mean), we do not reflect the actual mark.
  • Credits will thus only usually be given in subjects which are offered through the Faculty of Humanities at UCT, or offered in other faculties at UCT and recognised towards Humanities degrees. We cannot credit you with something for which we have no equivalent, or which is not counted towards the degree you are doing.

You will need to go through the credit transfer process before you obtain curriculum advice or register, as you will need to show your advisor, and submit with your registration, the signed credit transfer forms as proof that you will be credited with those courses, will not need to repeat them, and can sign up for higher level courses based on the transfer courses as pre-requisites.


  • For a general BA or BSocSci general degree or the PPE, the maximum number of credits we will transfer from another institution is 8 semester courses out of the 20 which make up the degree. This is a standard first-year load.
    • For rules governing the transfer of credits for the BMus, BA Fine Art or BSocial Work, please consult the Faculty of Humanities Undergraduate Handbook. As a rough guide, we will transfer the equivalent of the first two years of study towards a four-year degree.
  • We do not usually transfer credits higher than second-year level (note that doing so for a major will remove you from contention for distinction in that major, as our distinction rules require high second-year marks as well as third-year, and we do not transfer the marks). While we may transfer third-year credits for four-year programmes such as the BSW or BAFA, under no circumstances will we transfer third-year major credits for students transferring into the general BA or BSocSci degrees.
  • We transfer credits by crediting your UCT transcript with the UCT course which is closest in content, level and weighting to the external course you passed. We cannot credit you with something for which we have no equivalent, or which is not counted towards the degree you are doing.
  • The assessment of the equivalence between your external course and the UCT course is done by the Head of Department for that subject at UCT; we do not keep a standard list of equivalences.
  • We cannot credit the same course twice; we thus cannot transfer a credit for a course which you take at UCT. If you are granted a credit transfer for a particular course and subsequently take that same course, we will remove the credit transfer from your record.


  • Please bear in mind the importance of the country-wide credits framework which defines South African university courses (SAQA credits). In the general BA and BSocSci degree curricula, UCT first-year Humanities semester courses are usually worth 18 SAQA credits; second-year semester courses are worth 24. This is generally a higher credit count than many other SA universities, so you will not always receive a one-on-one transferral of courses.
  • Transferring South African students are required to provide SAQA credit information for their previous institution's courses (usually on the university transcript), but please see the table below for general guidelines.
  • Please also note that the NQF has considerably tightened regulations for credit transfer, and we are not permitted to grant direct equivalences on a course with fewer credits, even if the difference is only one or two points.
  • In practice, what I will usually do if you have transfer credits which are just below the UCT course size, is to use any courses for which you have not found an equivalent, or which exceed the maximum credit transfer allowance, to make up the other courses to full size. If I cannot, you will receive an EX credit rather than a CX credit – i.e. exemption, not credit, so it counts as a pre-requisite but doesn’t count towards the total number of courses needed for the degree.



Equivalences (semester courses)

UCT Humanities General Degree courses

First-year semester courses: 18 credits.

Second-year semester courses: 24 credits


First-year courses: 18 credits.

Second- year courses: 24 credits


First-year courses: 16 credits.

Second- and third-year courses: 16 or 32 credits (varies)


First- and second-year courses: 15 credits.

Third-year courses: 30 credits.


ALL courses (first to third year): 12 credits.

You need 1.5 UNISA courses to make one UCT course at first-year level, and two UNISA for one UCT at second-year level.


Process for credit transfer


1. Download a credit/exemption form from the sidebar link. With the remote format this year and the need to conduct the process by email, you may wish to send a separate form to each HoD just to save time, that’s fine, you can submit multiple forms with different courses on each.

2. Email the form, your external transcript and some material describing the course content of your courses (such as the course description from a university handbook) to the Head of Department (HoD) of each subject you have completed.  

  • The HoD contact list is available in sidebar (note that email addresses are not always complete in the listing, they should be name@uct.ac.za, not just @uct).
    • The HoD will assess the course content and decide which UCT course it most resembles.
    • They will decide whether to give you a Credit (i.e. the course counts towards the 20 you need for a general degree), an Exemption (the course counts as a requirement for a major or programme, and as a pre-requisite for higher-level courses), or both. (See table at the end of this guide).
    • They will indicate this information on the form, and sign it.
    • Remember that the HoD assessment is a recommendation; while you will always receive the exemption on the HoD's signature, it may be that subsequent assessment of credit weighting will discover that the course is too small for full credit transfer. A CX awarded by an HoD may become an EX after checking and processing.

3. You may now use this form as proof of credits for purposes of registration. Make sure you submit the signed credit form with your advice request and your registration on Peoplesoft, so the advisors have evidence of the courses you do not need to take because you are transferring the credit.

4. At some stage after the first few weeks of term, email your form, signed by as many HoDs as are necessary (or multiple forms if you sent one to each HoD to save time), to Dr.Jessica Tiffin, jessica.tiffin@uct.ac.za.  

  • With it you should submit your external transcript, preferably by forwarding the email in which your external institution sent you the virtual version of your transcript.
  • South African students must also submit information regarding the SAQA credit rating of their courses, either on their transcript or in official documentation from their previous institution (e.g. a handbook).
  • Foreign students must submit information on the weighting of their courses: grade points for American courses, or ICTS credits for European institutions, or if neither, the duration, number of hours per week, and number of courses taken overall in a semester or year in their previous degree.

5. Your courses will be checked against the UCT equivalents, and relative weightings calculated. The UCT courses granted will then be transferred onto your official UCT record, reflecting as a CX/CR/EX (some combination of credit and exemption, see below), not as the actual mark you earned at your other institution.

6. Please note that an HoD's signature attesting to an equivalence does NOT guarantee you will be given the credit, as HoDs assess content, not weighting. As we are not permitted to give a direct one-on-one equivalence based on smaller credits, you may well find that your final credit tally is lower than the exemptions granted by the HoDs, and youmay have to do a course or two extra in your first year at UCT to make up for the difference.

7. There are a lot of transfer students in the Faculty of Humanities, and Dr Tiffin is the only person who processes the forms. Your transfer credits should appear on your Peoplesoft record sometime during the first semester. If they have not appeared by the end of the first semester exam period, please query this with by emailing Jessica.tiffin@uct.ac.za.



Credit only

The course has the correct size/credit weighting, it counts towards the 20 you need for a general degree, or the total required for a programme, but its content is not equivalent enough to anything we offer for it to be used as a pre-requisite or a specific requirement for a major or programme.


Exemption only

The course counts as a requirement for a major or programme, and as a pre-requisite for higher-level courses, but is not large enough to count one towards the 20 required by the general degree, or towards the total number of courses required by a programme.


Credit and exemption

The course has both content and size equivalence, it counts in exactly the same way as a normal course with a mark instead of a CX.