Department of Journalism, Stellenbosch University

Department of Journalism, Stellenbosch University

Department of Journalism

The Department of Journalism is the oldest specialised postgraduate training institution for this profession in South Africa. In the one-year BA Honours programme, professional, practical skills dovetail with conceptual skills. In the advanced master’s and doctoral programmes the focus shifts to research on journalism in particular, and the media in general.

For more information:

Tel: +27 21 808 3488

Fax: +27 21 808 4965



The University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Journalism has a rich and colourful history that echoes back to the beginning of 1978. This is the year in which newspaper stalwart and retired editor of Die Burger,Prof Piet​ Cillié​, ​​introduced himself to the first ever journalism class to have studied at Protea House. Acting on a proposal made to him by Ebbe Dommisse, the then news editor at Die Burger, Cillié​ was inspired to launch a journalism degree at his alma mater, the University of Stellenbosch, which he modelled closely on the world-reowned Columbia School of Journalism in New York.

Just like its American counterpart, the department focuses exclusively on a number of different postgraduate degrees and it is currently the only specialised postgraduate training institution for journalists in South Africa.

​The department is conveniently situated on campus in Protea House, a neatly renovated Edwardian building and national monument, and offers students an unparalleled working environment as far as scenic beauty and ambience is concerned, allowing them to pursue their studies with the zest it deserves.

As part of the honours level course, the BA Honours in Journalism, two dozen or so apiring journalists with diverse academic and cultural backgrounds are afforded the oppportunity each year to spend a whole year gaining invaluable practical journalistic skills, as well as being exposed to the ethical, technological, marketing, managerial, sociological and historical basis of the media.​

This is in stark contrast to the past, when newspapers scarcely believed in any formal training for their rookie reporters, simply throwing them into the deep end where they either had to sink or swim. Since then, the situation has changed dramatically and an academic qualification is now a virtual necessity for any prospective journalist.

​When Cillié founded the department in 1978, it was one of his biggest goals to help establish journalism in South Africa as a respected and professional occupation. This ideal was carried forward after Cillié’s retirement at the end of 1983 by his successor and ex-editor of Beeld, Prof. Johannes Grosskopf.

Grosskopf also witnessed how the international communications revolution shook the world and the department had to adapt accordingly in order to survive. Once beloved and trustworthy typewriters were swept aside and replaced by computer screens and keyboards. After Grosskopf’s retirement at the end of 1993 to travel the world, his successor, Prof George Claassen, has seen to it that the department has remained in step with the latest technological advances that could be of benefit to journalists.​

Under Claassen’s leadership, the department has placed a high premium on computer literacy, as well as Internet literacy. Students receive intensive training on how to utilise the Internet for research purposes. His successor, Prof Lizette Rabe​​, also alumnus of the first class of 1978, emphasises the need for multi-skilled journalists for a dynamic, morphing multi-media world where converging technology is the name of the game.​

Since 1995, the students also published their own magazine, Stellenbosch Journalism Insight, for a couple of years whilst funding lasted. This will be replaced in 2002 by the launching of a new on-line publication, Stellenbosch Media Forum, for which the students will not only provide the contents, but also do the design of the website. Other practical work include the compiling, writing and reading of a daily news bulletins for MFM, Stellenbosch’s own community radio station, as well as weekly internships at the community newspaper, Eikestadnuus.

Click here for Application Procedure


​​​​​​The department of Journalism is in the privileged position of having a number of bursaries and awards on offer for its honours students (BA Honours Journalism), sponsored by the department and various media institutions.

The following bursaries are available to students:

  1. ​Media24 sponsors a number of bursaries for (mostly previously disadvantaged) journalism students every year. You need to send in your formal application form to the Registrar (see online application form) by 31 August and inform the department that you are interested in the bursary. Media24 selects its candidates after the final class group for a particular year has been announced.
  2.  The Aggrey Klaaste Bursary, co-sponsored by The Sowetan and the Department to a previously disadvantaged student in the BA Honours class; apply to the Chair, Department of Journalism (see contact details). NB: you also need to send in your formal application form to the Registrar (see online application form) by 31 August.
  3. The Percy Qoboza scholarship to a student in the BA Hons class every year – sponsored by Media24 and the department. Applications will only be accepted after the final class group for a particular year has been announced.
  4. Students can also apply to the Bursary Department of the University for merit bursaries, etc. See​
For more information about any of the above bursaries, feel free to contact the department at +27 21 808-3488,
BA Hons Journalism students can compete for the following awards every year:
  • The Car prize, sponsored by Ramsay Media for the year’s top student;
  • The Rowland Hill award – the Golden Pen – for the best in-depth project;
  • ​The Piet Cillié​ prize for formulation and style;
  • ​The Ton Vosloo prize for creativity and innovation;
  • The ORMS photography prize for the best photography portfolio;
  • The Christiana Scott prize for Science Journalism, sponsored by Prof G Claassen, former Head and lecturer in Science and Technology Journalism. ​
MA and PhD Journalism students can apply for bursaries through the University’s Bursary Department (see​).
MA Journalism students compete for the following awards every year:
  • The Golden Pen Award for the top Master’s student

​Master’s in Journalism

Journalism Education for the 21st Century

So, you

  • have completed your professional training as a journalist, but you’re going to miss the library?
  • have been working as a journalist for a number of years, but want to find out more about the story-behind-the-story, the theories and concepts that can help you understand your work better?
  • have a background in media studies but want to specialise, do more research, go further on your quest for knowledge?
  • are tired of running against deadlines?
  • are not able to reflect critically on your profession?
  • want to “sharpen the sword”?
  • need a new qualification to get ahead?
Then one of the MA (Journalism) options at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Journalism is the right choice for you.​
Depending on your interests, experience and circumstances, you can choose between several structured (assignments and a limited research component) or research (full research thesis) options.​ Choose a specialisation in Media Ethics, Media, Culture and the Information Society, Media Management, Media History, Global Journalism, Science and Technology Journalism or Media, Democracy and Development.
The MA in Journalism is a 180 credit programme based on a virtual classroom system and is the only modular course of its kind in South Africa. Students are only required to visit Stellenbosch for specific periods during the programme for seminars. The course is particularly popular with mid-career professionals who want to extend their qualifications and enhance their careers. The SU allows altogether four years for a student to complete a master’s degree.
Admission requirements
Because of the multidisciplinary nature of a career in journalism, the requirement for entry is an honours degree in an appropriate area in the humanities, or any other honours degree plus five years practical experience in journalism.
Entrance test and interview
All applicants must write an entrance test in September to assess their research interest. An interview may also be conducted with each applicant. Applicants can choose to write the test and be interviewed in either Stellenbosch or Johannesburg.
MA programme in Journalism
Code 38725
878 (180) (100% thesis) (MA after BA Honours degree)
888 (180) (50% thesis) (MA after BA Honours ​degree)
898 (180) (30% assignment) (MA after BA Honours  degree)​
Admission and selection requirements
For 878, 888 and 898: The SU BA Honours Journalism, Media Studies or Communication from another university, or another honours degree qualification plus five years journalism experience.
Programme Structure and Content
The MA in Journalism is based on three selection structures as per module details below. The programme is based upon individual interaction between lecturer and student, but attendance of residential seminars is compulsory. A thesis or research assignment is done in one of the elective modules chosen:
Components of the Modules
879: 100% thesis after BA Honours  (180 credits)
  • Compulsory modules
         12834 Thesis (100%) (Journalism) 871 (180) (A/E)
NB: It is compulsory for students to attend the Mass Communication Theory as well as Research Methodology courses during the first seminar week.
889: 50% thesis (90 credits) after BA Honours  (180 credits)
  • ​Compulsory modules
         11547 Mass Communication Theory 871 (30) (E)
         10169 Research Methodology 871 (30) (E)
         12834 Thesis (50%) (Journalism) 883 (90) (A/E)
  • Elective modules (one required; one in which the research for the thesis will be conducted)
         10161 Media Management 871 (30) (E)
         10163 Media Ethics 871 (30) (E)
         10164 Media, Culture and the Information Society 871 (30) (E)
         10165 Science and Technology Journalism 871 (30) (E)
         10167 Media History 871 (30) (E)
         10171 Global Journalism 871 (30) (E)
         11546 Media, Democracy and Development 871 (30) (E)
899: Research Assignment (60 credits) after BA Honours ​​ (180 credits)
  • Compulsory modules
        11547 Mass Communication Theory 871 (30) (E)
        10169 Research Methodology 871 (30) (E)
        10159 Research Assignment (60 credits) ( Journalism) 872 (60) (A/E)
  • ​Elective modules (two ​required; NB in one of these the research for the research component will be conducted)
        10161 Media Management 871 (30) (E)
        10163 Media Ethics 871 (30) (E)
        10164 Media, Culture and the Information Society 871 (30) (E)
        10165 Science and Technology Journalism 871 (30) (E)
        10167 Media History 871 (30) (E)
        10171 Global Journalism 871 (30) (E)
        11546 Media, Democracy and Development 871 (30) (E)
Modules are assessed through assignments and examination. Research assignments and theses will be assessed according to the University’s guidelines.


​​Programme Coordinator: Ms Marenet Jordaan
Email:​The postgraduate ​​BA Honours course​ in Journalism is probably the most popular of all the courses offered by the University of Stellenbosch’s post-graduate Department of Journalism. More than 100 applicants apply each year to be admitted to this one-year full-time degree.The course is bilingual and students can hand in all their assignments and exams in either English or Afrikaans.Admission requirements
Students who wish to apply for admission to Honours in Journalism must either have a bachelor degree or be in their final year of study for such a degree. Only 20 to 25 students are admitted to the course each year.Entrance test and interview
All applicants must write an entrance test in September to assess their general knowledge, language skills, interests and cultural literacy. An individual interview will also be conducted with applicants who achieve a sub-minimum in the test. Applicants can choose to write the test and be interviewed in either Stellenbosch or Johannesburg.

Plagiarism is regarded in a very serious light in journalism and in the training provided by this Department. Students that commit plagiarism, will get zero for an assignment and will not be allowed to hand in any other assignment in a specific module. Read the Department’s policy on plagiarism​.

Duration of the course
The course normally commences during the first week of February, while the final exams and projects have to be handed in by the end of November. Hereafter, students still need to complete a practical internship of at least four weeks at an approved media institution of their choice before graduating in March the next year.

Course structure
Students should expect to be occupied with assignments, classes and other related journalism activities most of the time, Mondays through Fridays, and often most weekends. These include compiling and writing news features for community​ media such as MFM and Eikestadnuus.


Code 38725 978 (360)

Admission and selection requirements

Admission to the PhD programme in Journalism requires the candidate to be in possession of a recognised Master’s degree in Journalism or Communication or an appropriate qualification acceptable and within the guidelines of the University. Admissions to doctoral studies will be considered on the grounds of a research proposal.

Programme Structure and Content

The writing of a dissertation. Also consult Part 1 (General) of the Year Book.

Components of the Module

  • Compulsory module
         38725 Journalism 978 (360) (A/E)
The thesis is examined according to the University’s guidelines.
Programme co-ordinator: Prof L Rabe,
Should you need further information regarding any of the courses, you can contact the Department of Journalism at: Department of Journalism, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602 or phone +27 21 808-3488. You can also visit the Department at Protea House, 26 Crozier Street, Stellenbosch or e-mail us .

 Contact Us

Postal Address:Department of JournalismUniversity of Stellenbosch

Private Bag X1

Matieland, 7602.

Visit us at:

26 Crozier Street


Tel: +27 21 808-3488

Fax: +27 21 808-4965​