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The GSP semester

Academic Focus

The semester consists of two terms with a ten day vacation period in between them. Students are introduced to courses that focus on varying topics from Social Theory to Pop Culture, Gender and Globalization to the Sociology Deviance and Resistance. Students are able to choose from varying courses that explore different subjects. Ultimately the aim of this specialization regardless of which courses students choose is to enhance our students' intercultural competence and expose them to diverse knowledge systems in the social sciences; to enrich their understanding of social change in a globalising world; and to understand the functioning of social institutions in diverse societies. Certain courses focus on the South African context, the African context, or a Global Perspective. But in the interests of a decolonialized approach to knowledge systems, many courses retain interest in Global South contexts, particularly in Africa.

Course offer

Students are able to choose the courses that they wish to take. Two courses must be selected from a group of six core courses:

  • Action, Resistance, and Alternatives 
  • The Sociology of Deviance 
  • Worlds of Work 
  • The Sociology of Gender and Globalization
  • Workers, Change, and Continuity 
  • Art and the Sociology of Pop Culture


Students are then required to choose an additional two courses as electives from the following list: 

  • Contemporary Social Theory
  • Political Sociology 
  • Sociological Analysis Today 
  • GPNs, Development, and Decent Work 
  • Political Ecology 
  • Society and Natural Resources 

NB: The ability to choose a course is always subject to that course being offered in that year.

Course format

The predominant course format consists of 6 week modules for a course, that comprises attendance of one two-hour seminar per week. Many courses require students to do a class presentation or group work as well as a final term paper at the end of the course that is often +/- 6000 words. The courses are attended by both GSP students as well as local students. The size of classes varies from as small as 5 students, up to 25 students depending on the popularity of a course. Popular courses are often capped at 20 students by the lecturer. The courses are offered by the Sociology Department. With the permission of the coordinators students may take courses offered in other Humanities departments as electives, given that the courses retain the appropriate number of credits and are in line with the aims of the specialization.


The examination format of the courses is often a term paper of a length of +/- 6000 words. The term papers are due at the end of the courses, often within early September for the first two courses taken in the first term and late November for the second two courses taken in the second term.

Academic culture

The relationship between lecturers and students is often a supportive one, given that the classes are relatively small. Many lecturers are happy to be referred to by their first names and are always approachable and willing to assist. Students are able to communicate with their lecturers via e-mail.

The language of instruction at the university is English. All courses are offered in English, except for language courses in the School of Languages and Linguistics. Students are able to take language courses from them if they wish.

Living and studying

Students must look for their own accommodation as this is not provided by the university. Often students opt to rent a house close to the university where they are able to stay together. These are what are referred to as “student digs”. On arrival in the city at the Cape Town International Airport, students may take an Uber/Cab/Airport Shuttle to their place of residence. The best mode of transportation to the university on a daily basis from where students stay is often walking as well as a shuttle service that the university provides where students are able to catch the shuttle from certain stops in areas surrounding the university.

University facilities such as Food spots, the Library, Lecture Halls, Computer Labs, the Sociology Department are all on the campus in the area of Rondebosch, referred to as “Upper Campus”. All these facilities are within walking distance of each other.

Depending on the embassy one applies from, the South African study visa can take from six to eight weeks to be processed. One of the visa requirements that often requires time to plan ahead is the Police Clearance certificate. The South African embassies require police clearance certificates from every country a student resided in for more than a year from the age of eighteen.