University of Cape Town Bachelor of Arts Course

University of Cape Town Bachelor of Arts Course

A General Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Social Science degree offers a flexible degree structure which is spread over a minimum of three years of full-time study. The General Degree requires students to study at least two approved majors (i.e. a specialised study taken to third year level), selected from a wide choice of subjects. While major subjects require specific courses to be taken, with some choice within certain majors, outside the majors students have the freedom to choose from a wide range of courses. The degree structure is also adaptable, in that students may change majors as they go along, based on their experience of their courses.


General Degrees are suitable for students with a general interest in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, who wish to construct their own course of study rather than being committed to a prescribed set curriculum.

Students enrolling for a degree programme will take at least 20 semester courses; of these eight to ten semester courses will form part of two majors selected from the lists below.

  • Students who select both majors from the list of Bachelor of Arts majors will register for a Bachelor of Arts degree.
  • Students who select both majors from the list of Bachelor of Social Science majors will register for a Bachelor of Social Science degree.
  • Students who select one major from each list will choose to register for either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Social Science degree.
  • Students can also choose one major from the list of majors offered by departments outside the Faculty but must also take a major in either the Arts or Social Sciences.
Bachelor of Arts majors Bachelor of Social Science majors Majors offered through other faculties
African Languages & Literatures
Arabic Language & Literature
Business French
Classical Studies
Film & Television Studies
Hebrew Language & Literature
Media & Writing
Art History and Discourse of Art
Xhosa Communication
Gender Studies
Industrial Sociology
Politics and Governance
Religious Studies
Social Development
Applied Statistics
Applied Biology
Applied Mathematics
Computer Science
Ecology & Evolution
Environmental & Geographical Science
Human Physiology
Mathematical Statistics
Marine Biology
Ocean & Atmosphere Science
Organisational Psychology
B.Structured Degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Science & Bachelor of Music:

Structured Degree Programmes are special combinations of disciplines and courses which have been curriculated to provide you with a particular knowledge and skills base. Every programme is made up of specific, pre-set courses for each year of study, and every year of study builds on the knowledge and skills developed during the previous year.

Structured Degrees are suitable for students with an interest in specific aspects of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences who wish to follow a structured course of study, are reasonably sure of their interests and willing to commit themselves to a tightly-structured curriculum. It is possible to change from certain named degree programmes to a general degree programme.

Structured Degrees in the Humanities
Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art (BA(FA))
Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance (BA(T&P)
Bachelor of Music (BMus)
Bachelor of Music in Dance (BMus(Dance))
Bachelor of Social Science in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (BSocSc(PPE))
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)


C.Degree Specialisations:

The Faculty also offers a number of specialisations. These are General Degrees which offer specialised curricula in particular subject areas or disciplines and which may have additional admission requirements.

General Degrees with specialisations in the Humanities
Bachelor of Arts specialising in Film and Media Production (BA)
Bachelor of Arts specialising in Music Education (BA)
D.Extended Degree Programmes:

 The Humanities 4-year degree – also sometimes called the `extended degree’ – is run by the Humanities Education Development Unit (Hum EDU).  The 4-year degree results in exactly the same qualifications as a 3-year Humanities degree –a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Social Science (BSoc Sci) – but  the minimum time to finish your degree is 4 years. This takes the pressure off, allows you to take fewer courses in any one semester, time to develop yourself, discover what you really want to do and also take 3 majors if you are doing well. Doing a 4-year degree gives you more time to complete the qualification, and also provides more teaching support throughout that qualification than occurs on the 3-year degree. This is to ensure that you have a rich undergrad experience and get the best results you can.

It is worth knowing that a high percentage of students who choose to do their degree in three years actually take four or more years to complete the degree anyway – due to failing some courses. The Humanities Faculty has specially designed the shape and pace of the four year degree so that you have enough time and support, meaning that failing is less likely and you finish with a stronger transcript and GPA than such a student who attempted to complete their degree in 3 years but in fact needed more time.

The Humanities 4 year degree is a placement program, meaning that you will apply to the university for a general Humanities degree, and if you are eligible for admittance to the 4 year program, you will be offered a place on it. However, if you’re accepted onto the 3-year Humanities degree and you’d like to move into the 4-year program, this is possible – you can apply to the Director of the Hum EDU to be moved onto the 4-year program.

Doing a 4-year Humanities degree comes with some distinct advantages, but there are also some limitations that you need to know before you decide to take up a place on the 4 year degree. We’ll quickly look at each; more information is available from the Hum EDU if you need it.

Advantages of the 4-year program:

  • You take 3 courses per semester, which means you have more time to focus on each course and to complete assignments and get good marks
  • You take 2 or 3 Introductory courses in  your first year, which give you writing, numeracy and disciplinary specific support to make the transition between high school and university as smooth as possible. There are a number of courses you can choose from, tailored to the majors you are taking for your degree. Some of these courses also allow you to submit work in the language of your choice.
  • You have extra tutorials ( Plus Tuts)  available in most Humanities first and some second year courses, which are specially designed by well-trained Teaching Assistants to give you cutting edge pedagogical support in your courses.
  • There is more potential to take a triple major as you have more time
  • You have access to curriculum advice & counseling support year round should you need it.
  • In addition to academic support, in the 4-year degree you can access to a range of other kinds of social support if you need it –a mentor, counseling, reading groups and teas

4-year program restrictions

  • You may not major in undergrad Law. This is due to a Law faculty requirement that you take 8 courses in your first year, not a Hum EDU rule. However, it is perfectly possible (and in fact the Law Faculty recommends this) that you take a general undergraduate degree and later specialise in postgrad Law.
  • To major in Psychology, you need to take 2 Introductory Numeracy courses in your first year. You’ll start your Psychology major in your second year – this will not slow your degree down at all, however, and gives you a numeracy skill advantage over other students that you will likely appreciate when taking the Psychology Research courses.
  • To major in Economics you also need to take 2 Introductory Numeracy courses in your first year & pass them well, before applying for special permission from the Director.
  • In your first year if a Plus Tut is offered for a course, you must take it. You need to take at least 3 Plus Tuts altogether in the course of your degree. This is because of the reporting requirements the Hum EDU has to the government, who funds the 4-year degree.  If you are a senior student you can get a concession to be excused from taking the Plus Tut linked to a course you are registered for. However, our research shows that most students value these tutorials; and their grades go up when they attend.

We look forward to welcoming you to UCT. If you have any additional questions, please email them to