Faculty of Humanities
Research Excellence at University of Pretoria

Research at the University of Pretoria (UP) is at the apex of the University’s long-term strategic plan, UP 2025, which is to be a leading research-intensive university in Africa. Equally important is the University’s international visibility and the impact of its research and innovation on socio-economic development in South Africa and in the region. UP therefore deliberately balances its focus on research and innovation and the partnerships fostered by creating an environment that is conducive to scholarly pursuits. A wide range of research and professional areas underscores the strength of UP in research and postgraduate education, and also the areas in which UP is positioned as a research leader in Africa and internationally.

UP has been home to some of Africa’s most significant leaders in research. Each year the increasing number of National Research Foundation-rated researchers is evidence of the University’s commitment to attracting and retaining researchers of the highest distinction, as well as young researchers with the potential for research excellence.

It is through the sustained individual and collective actions of our researchers that UP continues to strengthen its identity as a leading research-intensive university in Africa.

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Welcome to the Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities is internationally recognised for its research and expertise in community and development studies, archaeology and 400 other subject fields, including the world’s first global classroom in political sciences. We encourage students to pursue postgraduate studies to enhance their critical and creative thinking. Our students have access to resources that ensure that they are ready for the world of work and have an entrepreneurial mindset.
Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities

Prof Innocent Pikirayi

Our Faculty of Humanities is renowned globally for academic excellence and public engagement. With over 6,000 students, including 30% postgraduates, and 200 academic staff, 74% of whom hold doctorates, we're a leading institution in South Africa and beyond.

Our faculty is divided into four clusters:
  1. The School of the Arts
  2. The Languages Cluster (evolving into the School of Languages)
  3. The Core Social Sciences Cluster
  4. The Applied Sciences Cluster

In our pursuit of academic excellence, we also host a number of centers linked to these clusters and schools, all of which are committed to research and international engagement. These include:

  1. African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS).
  2. Centre for Asian Studies in Africa.
  3. Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC), which is a fully-fledged academic department offering degree programs and postgraduate student supervision.
  4. Centre for Language Learning.
  5. Centre for the Study of Aids and Gender (CSA&G).
  6. Center for the Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss (WHO).
  7. The Maarif Centre for Turkish Studies.

In 2023, we received the Cluster of Research Excellence (CoRE) award, allowing us to collaborate with the University of Oslo on health, gender, and sexuality research.
Our extensive global partnerships include institutions in the US, Europe, the Indian Ocean Zone, Far East, South America, and the Australian African Universities Network.
Our rankings reflect our commitment to excellence:

  1. Top 400 for arts and humanities subjects globally
  2. Top 300 for the Department of Sociology
  3. Top 200 for archaeology program
  4. Top 100 for Development Studies
  5. Department of Political Sciences participates in the Global Classroom
  6. Host Africa’s only Master’s program in Tangible and Heritage Conservation
  7. Host Africa’s only Specialist Neuro-Otologic Test Centre.

We’re dedicated to academic excellence and public engagement, THE UP WAY.

Academic Programmes

Postgraduate programmes

The Faculty of Humanities is one of the oldest and most respected Humanities faculties in South Africa. Established more than 100 years ago, the Faculty of Humanities at UP has a long tradition of, and extensive experience in, providing high quality postgraduate programmes in a wide range of disciplines in the languages, arts, and the social sciences.

Research Areas

The Faculty of Humanities has several broad research focus areas (FRAs), in several instances linked to its various unites, centres and institutes. Amongst these FRAs are the following: developmental social work; peace and conflict in Africa; a focus on children’s literature; Southern modernities and tangible heritage conservation; and research programmes related to public intellectuals and decolonisation of the Humanities curriculum. Various departments host research projects, and further information is available on the individual departmental websites. Prospective students are encouraged to contact departments in order to gather information on particular research areas and opportunities.

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UP aims to create an enabling environment in which our postgraduate students and their supervisors can function optimally. Our supervisors provide academic guidance and mentorship to students and are key role players in the administrative efficiency of postgraduate study.


After selecting your postgraduate programme, you will need to identify a supervisor to give you  academic support and help you achieve a high standard of research outputs during your postgraduate journey. At UP we place strong emphasis on academic excellence and innovation and strive to provide a supportive environment for all our postgraduate students to thrive.

Choosing a supervisor plays a crucial role in empowering students to become independent thinkers, skilled researchers and influential contributors in their chosen fields. Supervisors also play a pivotal role in helping students shape their research topics, refine methodologies and navigate the complex landscape of academia.

During your postgraduate studies, you have the chance to work closely with your supervisors, receiving personalised attention and guidance. This close relationship allows for constructive feedback, brainstorming sessions and the development of critical thinking skills.

If you are considering postgraduate studies at UP, rest assured that you will be embarking on an exciting journey of intellectual exploration, personal growth and professional development. By choosing UP you will have the opportunity to work alongside exceptional supervisors, collaborate with exceptional peers and make a lasting impact in your chosen discipline.

Find a suitable supervisor for your chosen area of research here

Research That Matters


The Javett-UP will champion South African and African art and culture, alongside international works, in an environment characterised by research, study and exploration. The Mapungubwe collection will be housed in a purpose-designed gallery, which will guarantee an African perspective.

UP and the Javett Foundation share a firm belief in the value of the arts for society in general, and for education in particular, which underlies the commitment to this project.

The Javett-UP has the dual aim of enhancing academic programmes presented at UP pertaining to the arts, culture and heritage studies, and academic departments and disciplines that make use of these collections in teaching and research, as well as promoting appreciation of the arts, not only within the University community, but also among the wider South African and African community.

The Javett-UP will also promote new developments in conservation and storage methods. With funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, the University is the first in the country to develop a postgraduate Arts Conservation course, utilising the Javett-UP facilities.

Focusing on research, the Javett-UP will provide extensive and rich materials in a research-friendly environment, not only to staff and students of UP, but to the wider national and international arts community.

Institutes, Centres and Units

The Faculty of Humanities is home to five centres, namely the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC); the Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS); the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G); the Centre for Mediation in Africa (CMA); and the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (Govinn). The latter two centres are attached to the Department of Political Sciences. The Faculty also has a Unit for Creative Writing within its Languages Cluster and the Department of Psychology is responsible for the Itsoseng Clinic on the University’s Mamelodi campus. More information on each of these research-focused institutions is available on the website of the Faculty of Humanities.

Read more about the institutes, centres and units aligned to the Faculty of Humanities

Postgraduate Studies at the University of Pretoria

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Funding Opportunities

As a postgraduate student or prospective student at UP, there are a number of research resources available to you to identify suitable research funding opportunities. Apart from the University, many companies and institutions offer scholarships and bursaries for postgraduate studies. The University manages a number of financial funds on behalf of institutions who provide such funding. Applications for financial assistance, bursaries or funding must be submitted concurrently while you apply for admittance to your postgraduate programme. Funding is subject to approval and availability.

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Student Voices

Steven Motena

Tony Oche

Postgraduate Accommodation

If you are looking for that special place you can call your home away from home, then a residence at the University of Pretoria (UP) is just the place for you. With us, you will find an environment that is conducive to working and studying hard.

Click here to learn more about our accommodation application process.

Jakaranda Residence

Protea Mbalenhle Residence


Xayata Residence

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