University Of Cape Town English Department

University Of Cape Town English Department

University Of Cape Town English Department, The Department of English at UWC is a leading interdisciplinary department in the humanities in South Africa.

The department’s courses combine traditional literary studies with new courses in media, theatre, creative writing and practical training in various modes of cultural critique.

Honours in English Literature


Thank you for your interest in the doing English Honours in our department. As you prepare your application you may want to read through the following explanation of the admissions requirements and process. We look forward to receiving your application.

Admission Requirements:

  • All students with a strong academic record that have Students who have taken time off since completion of their BA are also encouraged to apply.
  • The decision-making process will involve a close examination of your transcripts, an example of a critical essay and a statement of motivation. You are requested to please provide the names of two referees at the end of your statement of motivation. Further details below.
  • Admissions decisions will be made by a Departmental Committee.
  • In line with the UCT mission of equity and excellence, the committee will deliberately seek to ensure that the class will reflect the diversity of talent available in the country.
  • The Departmental Committee will meet during November each year to make decisions on admissions. Applicants will then be notified early in December by email whether they have been accepted. In exceptional cases a small number of applicants may be wait-listed for acceptance.
  • Once an applicant’s admission has been confirmed by the English Department, the Humanities Faculty Office Graduate School will send a formal letter of admission stating registration dates.
  • Successful candidates are asked to confirm their acceptance in writing within two weeks.

To apply for Honours in English Applicants must follow these steps:

  1. Make an on-line application for study through the central UCT admissions office by no later than 31 October for South African applicants and no later than 30 September for international applicants.
  2. Please also email your application materials to the English Department directly, with the subject line: Honours Application to at the same time.
  3. Attach to your application the following three documents:
  • Statement of motivation of about 1 page. Please include at the end of the statement the names and contact details (email and telephone) of two academic referees whom the Committee could contact if needs be. We do not require written references to be submitted in the first instance.
  • Sample of your written work in the form of a critical essay of approximately 3000 words. We recommend that you submit an essay you were especially confident about from a final-year English Literature course.
  • Academic transcript. External applicants must attach an official academic transcript and internal applicants can submit an unofficial transcript showing their student number.
  • Information about financial aid can be found on the Postgraduate Funding Office Website: Honours students must submit form 10A to be considered for funding.

Honours Course Convenor

Dr Polo Moji, email:

Course structure:

The Honours in English Studies curriculum comprises four taught courses (two compulsory courses and two electives) and a research essay.

Compulsory (core) courses:

ELL4001H Research Essay/Project

ELL4061F Literature and Language Studies I

ELL4062F Literature and Language Studies II

Elective courses:

The remaining two courses may be selected from a list of departmental electives (to be confirmed).

Subject to approval by the Head of Department, an elective offered by a cognate department may replace one or more of the listed electives.

Academics in English Literature

Please click on the name to read profile and get details.

Head of Department

Sandra Young BA (Hons), MA Cape Town DPhil, Rutgers

Academic Staff 

Peter Anderson BA (Hons) Cape Town MLitt Oxon PhD Cape Town

Barbara Boswell MPhil Western Cape PhD Maryland

Nadia Davids BA (Hons), PhD Cape Town


Harry Garuba MA PhD, Ibadan, (joint appointment with Centre for African Studies)

Mandisa Haarhoff MA KwaZulu-Natal, PhD Florida

John Higgins, MA Cambridge PhD Cape Town

Polo Moji MA and PhD, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III)

Christopher Ouma MA, PhD Wits


Hedley Twidle BA (Hons) Oxon, MA, PhD York


Sandra Young BA (Hons) MA Cape Town MA DPhil Rutgers

Departmental Associates

Carrol Clarkson, BA (Hons), MA Witwatersrand, D Phil York

Rodney Edgecombe MA Rhodes, PhD Cambridge

Kelwyn Sole, BA (Hons) Witwatersrand MA London PhD Witwatersrand