The rules for academic exclusion are laid out in the Faculty of Humanities Handbooks. Different rules apply to different degrees, so make sure you check the right section.

Academic exclusion is the process by which the university assesses the progress of a student towards the completion of their degree. At the end of every year, the courses you have passed in total (i.e. from the start of your degree) are counted up, and are compared with the faculty handbook outlining the requirements to be eligible to continue.  The requirements may differ for each degree of study, and need to be evaluated with the use of the relevant faculty handbook. Normally the course count and evaluation is simple, however in certain instances there are specific requirements to be met (e.g. Fine Art has additional requirements, you must have passed specific courses in order to be allowed to continue).

Exclusion rules are fairly liberal. For example, a general Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Social Science (BSocSc) three-year programme requires you to have passed a minimum of five out of eight courses in your first year in order to be permitted to continue. Exclusion rules are also designed with the interests of the student in mind:If you continuously struggle to meet the minimum requirements it would be unethical for us to allow you to pay for courses you cannot pass.

Rules for exclusion are laid out in the Faculty Handbooks. Ensure that you find the correct degree and read with careful thought and consideration. The language in the handbook may be formal, however it is well structured to make sure you find the necessary information for each particular degree. 


The Faculty runs a detailed process of assessing student results after the end-of-year examinations. You will know about your status in two ways:

1. Your PeopleSoft unofficial transcript record will be updated to show a particular code for the end of the year. This could be:

  • Academically eligible to continue. You have passed enough courses that we are happy with your progress, and you may continue next year as normal.
  • Progression requirements not met but allowed to continue. You have technically failed to meet readmission requirements and should be facing exclusion: however, the exclusion review committee has assessed your academic record, and considers you to show potential to succeed. We are thus re-admitting you for a probation semester without needing to go through the formal exclusion appeal process. You are on probation for the first semester; your results will be assessed at the end of the first semester, and if you are not passing all of your courses, you may be academically excluded at mid-year, and your second semester courses dropped from your record.
  • Status pending: continue if SUPP/DE exams passed. You have a mark or marks outstanding - a supplementary or deferred exam, or a Summer Term course. Your total course count for your degree is close enough to the exclusion borderline that the outcome of this exam or course will make the difference between readmission and exclusion. If you pass the exam(s) or course, you will be permitted to continue. If you fail the exam(s) or course, you will be academically excluded (see below). Students in the "Status Pending" category are expected to submit appeals against exclusion provisionally, in case the outstanding mark is a fail. If you pass your appeal form will be discarded as it will be unnecessary.
  • Readmission refused on academic grounds. You have failed to pass enough courses to reach the minimum required number, and we will not permit you to register next year.

2. If you have been excluded, or have not met the progression requirements but have been permitted to continue on probation, you will receive a letter informing you of your status.


Firstly, DON'T PANIC! Exclusion does not mean it is the end of your academic career. There are various steps you can take to remedy the situation.

  1. Consider the reasons that led you to the unfavourable outcome. Failure could be due to possible unfortunate events in your life, illness, depression or other difficult experiences outside the classroom. Under these circumstances, you are in a position to appeal your academic status. However, your failed courses may be because you are not finding your feet in university study: because the courses do not speak to you, or the way we expect you to learn and work does not ask you to use your strengths. University study is not the only way to become the qualified, competent, successful person you want to be. It may be that your abilities are more practical or creative than academic, and a different kind of learning may allow you to excel in a way that academic learning does not. Consider these possibilities; visit the Careers Office, and make an appointment with a guidance counsellor who can help you strategise to find the career, and the kind of further education, which best suits you and your goals.
  2. See a student advisor. This is a sensible thing to do at any point in the year if you are worried you may be excluded at the end of the year, but are not sure if you have passed the relevant number of courses. For undergraduate students please find an advisor to assist you and for postgraduate students please consult with your supervisor, the Head of department(HOD) or Faculty of Humanities Postgraduate deputy dean. (You may search for relevant people by use of the UCT directory. They will be able to count up your courses, check whether you are in danger of exclusion, and advise you on strategies to pass as many courses as possible. They will also advise you about the UCT services which are available to help you overcome your problems,or other avenues of study if you strongly feel that UCT is not for you
  3. Appeal against your exclusion. If you are excluded, you have the right to present evidence and a motivation to the relevant committee, arguing that there were special circumstances which make this exclusion unfair. The Readmission Appeals Committee (RAC) meets in January of every year, and considers the applications for re-admission of a large number of students. If you are excluded, you will be sent a copy of the appeal form, which is a well worded document. You may also find a copy on the UCT Readmissions site.

Readmission after academic exclusion

It may be that your appeal against exclusion is not successful; in other words, the Readmission Appeals Committee, after considering your circumstances and motivations, nonetheless feels that a return to UCT is not in your best interests. There are various different reasons why they might make this decision, but all are based on careful consideration of whether or not you are likely to succeed in your studies if readmitted.

  1. You might not have given the committee enough evidence to show that you have overcome the problems (medical, psychological or circumstantial) which have affected your success, and they may be concerned that the unsolved issues will once more cause you to fail your courses if you return to study.
  2. You may have appealed to the Humanities Faculty as a second or even third choice, and may not have shown enough commitment to and interest in a Humanities course of study. In our experience, students who have put down Humanities as a last choice are often still committed to their original faculty, and will try to do courses in Humanities which will allow them to return to that faculty; since they have failed those courses in the past, they will very often continue to fail them.
  3. Even if you show strong Humanities interest and have sorted out your problematical circumstances, you may have been registered at UCT for long enough that you have only a year or two of possible registration remaining, and still need to do a large number of courses in that limited time. If you have a record which is unsuccessful enough to lead to exclusion, it is not likely that you will be able to suddenly reverse the trend to succeed at a very heavy course load under a lot of pressure. In these circumstances, the committee will often recommend that you spend a year at another university, building up credits which we can transfer to your UCT degree, so that you can return to finish a UCT degree in a future year under much less pressurised circumstances.

  4. If you have been registered at UCT for long enough that you do not have enough time remaining to complete your degree within the N+1 period for your programme, the committee will recommend that you consider completing your degree elsewhere.


Even if you are successful in your appeal, you will only be permitted to register for one semester, on a standard course load. If you do not pass all of these courses, you will not meet the terms of your probation, and may thus be excluded again at the end of the semester. If this happens, the only way you can return in future is to show academic rehabilitation, and only if you have not exceeded the n+1 period for your programme - see below.


If your appeal is unsuccessful or, you do not appeal at all, your UCT record will become inactive, and you will not be able to return to the university in the year immediately after your exclusion. You cannot ask another faculty at UCT to accept you; exclusion is from the whole university, not just from one course or faculty.

The earliest you could return is the second year after your exclusion. Please be aware, though, that there are very specific rules and procedures for this kind of return:

1. Once you have been excluded and your appeal has been unsuccessful, you cannot return to UCT unless you formally apply
  • You must fill in the standard UCT application form for a place at UCT, either the online or a hard copy application, by the application deadline (31 July) in the year before you wish to register.
  • If you were excluded at the end of 2022, you must apply formally before the end of July 2023 for a place in 2024.
  • We cannot decide whether to offer you a place unless your UCT record has been activated, and the formal application is the only way to do that.
2. Once you have applied, the Faculty will consider your request for a place
  • You will need to demonstrate that you have sorted out whatever the problems were which led to your lack of success in your previous studies.
3. In a very few cases, it is possible to prove that you have overcome your problems
  • This most often applies to medical or serious psychological issues, where you can submit medical reports which demonstrate your recovery.
  • This is not usually a good basis for re-admission, however, and in most cases we will also expect to see evidence of academic rehabilitation (see below).
4. In most cases, the Faculty will require evidence of academic rehabilitation. This means evidence of successful study at another university / degree-offering institution
  • It is possible to be given a place at another institution.
  • You will need to study for a minimum of one semester, but preferably a full year, on a full course load, and will need to pass all of your subjects. We look for marks in the 60s rather than marginal passes in the 50s; effectively, we need to see that you are back on track and able to succeed.
  • If you apply on this basis, you need to submit your transcripts from another institution as part of your application. (If the results are not yet available owing to the timing of exams, make sure you submit your application to UCT by the September 30th deadline, and we will hold your application until you can send us the results).
  • We are looking for evidence that you have overcome the problems which prevented your success when you were first registered at UCT, and a successful record elsewhere is very good evidence of that.
  • Please note that you will also need to demonstrate that your degree will be completed in a total of N+1 years at UCT, which for a three-year programme is a maximum of four years, or for a four-year programme is a maximum of five years.



It is important that you choose the correct subjects at your other institution, as the credits you earn there can then be transferred to your UCT degree, and you will not waste time or money in studying elsewhere.

  • For a general BA or BSocSc, the maximum number of credits we will transfer from another institution is 8 semester courses out of the 20 which make up the degree. For rules governing the transfer of credits for the BMus, BA Fine Art or BSocial Work, please see the Humanities handbook.
  • We will under no circumstances transfer the final-year credits needed for a major subject or programme specialisation.
  • Credits will only usually be given in subjects which are offered through the faculty of Humanities at UCT. We do not, for example, transfer credits in Communications.
  • When choosing your courses at another institution, you will need to consult the Head of Department of that subject at UCT. You can do this in person or by email (you can look up their email addresses on the UCT website). You need to show the HoD a brief description of the course(s) you wish to take elsewhere, and ask whether the subject material is similar to a course at UCT. It will help if you have already looked through the UCT handbook, and have chosen courses at your other institution which do seem to be equivalent.
  • Remember that UCT courses tend to be a bit larger than those at other institutions, and you will often need more than one external course to make a single UCT credit.
  • See information on transferring courses once you have been permitted to return.

​​​​​​​Downloads & Links