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History The Bachelor of Arts with Honours in the field of History is a 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time degree.
History The Bachelor of Arts with Honours in the field of History is a 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time degree.

Qualification: BA(Hons)

Faculty: Humanities

Duration: 1 - 2 years

School: Social Sciences

Study mode: Full-time; Part-time


Historical Research: Methods, Sources and Approaches - HIST4021A

This course involves 12-14 seminars which will prepare students for their independent research project. Seminars will include discussions on:

  • Choosing a research topic
  • Developing research questions
  • Writing a literature review
  • Navigating archives (including field visits to key local historical archives)
  • The use of digital archives
  • Organising historical data and other practicalities and ethical considerations of research 

Rural Transformation: Town & Countryside in Transition - HIST 4001A

This unit explores profound transformations in the fabric of South African society brought about by the interplay of rural and urban society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The themes considered include:

  • The causes and consequences of migrant labour
  • Changing dynamics of generation and gender
  • The politics and practice of resistance
  • Evolving forms of sexuality
  • Issues of racial and ethnic identity
  • The contestation of chieftainship
  • The intersection of malevolence, misfortune and witchcraft

Selected Topics/Histories of the Global South - HIST 4012A

This course charts a new post-colonial history by working against ‘nation-centered’ conceptions of historical processes. The course explores the linked histories of Africa and Asia through the connections that the two regions have shared in religion, commerce, the movements of labour and capital and not least the circulation of ideas, from about 1800 to 2000. The course questions inherited periodisations of the past that sharply divide the precolonial, colonial and post-colonial, and critique colonial and nationalist maps that have paid little attention to alternative geographies created by the movement of people. 

Themes in African-American History in the United States - HIST 4014A

The unit offers an intensive examination of pivotal historical scholarship on African-American history. It focuses on recent analyses of several major themes and processes in the history of African-Americans. Some of these include:

  • The African slave experiences in the Middle Passage
  • The economics of slavery in the American South
  • Slave culture
  • Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Great Migration
  • The Harlem Renaissance
  • The Civil Rights movement

Oral & Documentary History: Theory and Practice - HIST 4018A

This unit looks at contemporary trends in the theory and practice of history.

The first half deals with:

  • The possibility of objective truth
  • The boundaries between fiction and historical writing
  • Gender theory
  • The implications of post-colonial and post-modern theories for historical research and writing
  • The second half of the unit concentrates on the theoretical debates and practical skills of oral history.

The Environmental History of Africa - HIST 4020A

This course addresses the following themes in the environmental history of Africa:

  • Pre-colonial environmental history
  • The impact of European colonialism and its penetration into African environments and resource use
  • Game hunting and wildlife conservation
  • Nature reserves and national parks
  • Forests and forestry
  • Degradation narratives (soil erosion and conservation initiatives)
  • Drought and desertification
  • The politics of water
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Climate change in historical perspective

The Making of Urban South Africa - HIST 4013A

The unit explores the social, political and economic history of urbanisation in South Africa from the late 19th to the late 20th centuries.

Its central focus is the Witwatersrand, but it also examines parallel and especially divergent processes in Cape Town, Durban, East London, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.


  • A bachelors degree or equivalent with 65% course mark aggregate in a third year major.
  • At least an upper second class pass in the final undergraduate course in the subject.


Additional entry requirements may apply.

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees Office website also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.