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History The Master of Arts in the field of History by coursework and research report is a 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time degree.
History The Master of Arts in the field of History by coursework and research report is a 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time degree.

Qualification: MA 

Faculty: Humanities

Duration: 1 - 2 years

School: Social Sciences

Study mode: Full-time; Part-time


Rural Transformation: Town & Countryside in Transition (HIST 7007)

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

Themes in African-American History in the United States - HIST 7026 

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 7030

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 7039

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 (i.e. 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 7025

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.

Selected Topics/Histories of the Global South - HIST 7033A

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. 

Masters by Coursework and Research Report:

  • A bachelors degree with honours from Wits or another university with a 65% total mark aggregate

Masters by Dissertation:

  • A bachelors degree with honours from Wits or another university with a 65% total mark aggregate
  • A supervisor from the Faculty of Humanities must be identified and approached prior to application

Additional entry requirements may apply.

  • The Student Enrolment Centre at Wits handles all student applications.
  • Please click here for an overview of the application process.
  • Check the admission requirements for your degree. Check if any additional selection requirements apply. 
  • Submit your application, required documentation and application fee before the closing date.
  • Once you have applied, an admissions consultant will be assigned to your application.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • If you are an international applicant and/or have a foreign qualification, please click here.

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.