Bachelor of Arts

Choose from a wide selection of courses based on your interests, including African Literature, Anthropology, Archaeology, History, English, Geography, History of Art, International Relations, Media Studies, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Political Studies, Psychology and Sociology.


The Bachelor of Arts (BA) three-year full-time programme includes two majors and 22 courses.

You will study your major in the first, second and third years, with each year adding different and more complex aspects of the subject, so you become specialised in your chosen field. Courses run either for half an academic year or for one semester.

When choosing your majors and courses, keep your career goals and interests in mind, to ensure that you’re fully equipped for a specific profession.

Compulsory requirement across all BA programmes

A student of the Bachelor of Arts is required to complete two-semester courses in one of the following languages: isiZulu or Sesotho or South African Sign Language (SASL). If a student is proficient in any two of the three languages (isiZulu, Sesotho or SASL), the student is advised to do one of the following:

  • Register in a first-language stream for two courses in isiZulu or Sesotho; Register for two courses in any one of the following: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish; or formally apply to the Dean for exemption from the requirement to register for a language subject. Where an exemption has been granted, students must add a course/s yielding at least 36 credits in a subject approved by Senate. A student may also be granted a credit if s/he has completed the same or an equivalent course.

Career Opportunities

BA graduates are able to work in multiple fields, including:

  • African Studies
  • Communications or Journalism
  • Developmental Studies
  • Economics and Commerce
  • Education
  • English and Literature
  • Global Politics and Diplomacy
  • Heritage and Museum work
  • History
  • Language Studies and Translation
  • Law, Culture and Language
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Media, Literature and Culture
  • Work, Organisation and Society


Majors & Courses (click here to find out how to structure your degree)


These courses will familiarise you with basic speaking, reading, writing and listening, either in isiZulu or Sesotho. You will study texts from various literary genres to learn grammatical structures and socio-cultural context.


These courses examine the history of the languages spoken in South Africa today. You will also learn about the linguistic aspects of these languages and compare their morphophonological structures, especially those of the Sotho and Nguni languages. In addition, you will be introduced to Computational Linguistics, which focuses on the development of technological tools for resource-scarce languages.

These courses are designed for students with existing knowledge of at least one of South Africa’s official indigenous languages.


These courses comprise language acquisition components for non-mother tongue speakers, as well as linguistic and literature components for mother tongue speakers and students of African language media. You will acquire receptive and language reproduction skills, as well as analytical and interpretive skills.


These courses look at the diverse range of Nguni and Sotho literary material in southern Africa. They cover major works of poetry, prose, drama and journalistic articles, including translated works. Emphasis is placed on the history and emergence of the different types of literary genres.

These courses are designed for students with knowledge of at least one of South Africa’s official indigenous languages.


These courses study oral and written literature that is written in or translated from English, directly concerned with the African experience using fiction, poetry, popular culture and drama from the African continent. All non-English study texts are also available in English.


Anthropology is the study of humankind in social and cultural contexts. It documents and examines the diversity of human cultures, social relations, environments and products.


Archaeology is the study of human history through material remains, such as stone tools, food residue, rock art, pottery and settlement plans. First year students study the biological evolution of man, man’s past as
a hunter-gatherer and the origins of farming and urbanisation.


Digital Arts Theory introduces you to the historic, conceptual and critical frameworks of a range of digital art practices, like interactive and networked art and game studies. It investigates digital culture from its origins to present-day practice, around the world and particularly in Africa.


Drama for Life enhances dialogue for social transformation and healing, via arts-based research, teaching and learning and community engagement. Bachelor of Arts students who are interested in arts therapies, arts education, arts activism and all arts for development can also choose from the following undergraduate courses: Arts and Global Rights; Arts and Global Health; and Applied Drama and Theatre Economics. These courses look at how economic systems function, as well as the determination of income and development, international trade and payment mechanisms. Matric Mathematics is required.


Studying English Literature at Wits gives you the opportunity to learn various approaches to textual analysis and criticism that can be applied to a wide range of literature. You will also explore the relationship between literary works and their social, historical and/or cultural contexts. English Literature prepares you for various communicative professions, like teaching, writing, research, journalism, editing, publishing, human resources, public relations and more.


This field introduces students to a range of literary texts written in the main European languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Russian). Courses explore transnational relations and reciprocal influences, especially with regards to Francophone, Lusophone and South American Spanish texts.


These courses address national-scale developmental priorities, transformation and skills/employability. It is also designed to encourage students to develop integrated skills that can be applied to contemporary issues.


These courses span the intellectual and analytical study of topics relating to theatre, performance, visual arts and film within diverse contexts. You will develop conceptual creativity, intellectual rigour and strong practical capabilities to prepare you for a career in the theatre, film, visual arts and entertainment industry, or for future academic study.


These courses introduce French, which is spoken in more than 20 African countries, in its spoken and written forms. You will develop an appreciation of French literature, thought, history and civilisation. Courses that align well with French include Political Science, International Relations, Journalism and Media Studies, the Arts and Business Studies.


These courses cover physical geography, human geography and regional photography.


These courses introduce German in its spoken and written forms and help you to develop an appreciation of German literature, thought, history and culture. Germany is one of South Africa’s most important trading partners and German is the most commonly spoken language in the European Union. Graduates who are proficient in German are sought after by German-speaking companies and NGOs, as well as in tourism, diplomatic services and government departments. German aligns well with Humanities subjects.


Interested in historical, linguistic, literacy, or cultural perspectives of the past, the relationship between past and present, or the conservation and preservation of heritage? History revitalises views of the past, introduces exciting topics and challenges many of the assumptions and approaches you may have learned at school. History will equip you with sought-after skills in research, analysis and effective writing, speaking and thinking.


History of Art examines images and objects in their historical contexts. It provides critical insights into the lives of makers, viewers and users of art, as well as the spaces and times in which these images and objects are rooted. A History of Art major provides a gateway to understanding, critically analysing and engaging in the visual world.


Sociology is the study of society in all its complexity from empirical and theoretical perspectives. Human behaviour is shaped by the social contexts in which people find themselves. As such, Sociology helps us to understand how families, organisations, communities, cultural practices and broader political, economic and social processes affect the way people act and think. Sociology examines areas as diverse as disease, development, land reform, crime, culture, states, government, media, identity, gender, race and class, among others. Industrial and Economic Sociology is a specialisation that focuses on the socially embedded nature of the economy and the workplace.


The study of International Relations helps us understand why states go to war, why they trade with each other and why they care when human rights are abused. You will gain an understanding of the key events and tools that are used to unpack and determine why states, international organisations and individuals behave and engage the way they do. International Relations is a multidisciplinary field, with origins in history, economics, political science, sociology and law. First year courses provide a fundamental understanding of this exciting area of study.


These courses introduce Italian in its spoken and written forms. You will develop an appreciation of Italian literature, thought, history and culture and understand why Italy is a world leader in the culinary arts, interior design and fashion and furniture design. Italian is useful for students planning careers in music, fine arts, design, architecture, linguistics, translation, interpreting and international relations.


All societies are governed by some form of law. These courses provide knowledge of legal systems and how they conform with morality. Topics include: Constitutional Law, Customary Law, Persons and Family Law, Criminal Law and Delict, Succession Law and Contract Law.


Linguistics is the scientific study of language. In this course, you will study language on its own and as part of culture and society, referring to a wide range of languages in the process.


This field covers all aspects of Mathematics, including general knowledge and history of mathematical concepts. Matric Mathematics is essential.


This field covers Statistics, which deals with descriptive statistics, counting techniques, probability, discrete and continuous distribution, estimation, hypothesis testing, correlation, regression and one-way analysis of variance. Matric Mathematics is essential.


Media Studies gives you the critical and analytical skills needed to function in the Information Age. You will be exposed to theories, debates and discussions about the role of the media in society and find ways to analyse media operations, media products and media consumption.


You will study music in its historical, cultural and social contexts, encountering music from Africa, the western classical canon, popular music and jazz. In your first year, you will study Film and Visual Performing Arts and proceed to Critical Music Studies in second and third year.


Philosophy searches for rational answers to fundamental questions about humans and the world they live in. Philosophical questions include abstract matters, such as whether religious belief is rationally defensible; whether humans have free will; whether abortion is morally permissible; and whether a philosophy of Ubuntu could be compatible with the death penalty.

Philosophy helps you to develop reflection skills that deepen your personal understanding and promote autonomy. It promotes reasoning. You will explore topics such as thinking correctly, devising practical methods of logical analysis, argument construction and evaluation.


This field studies power relations in society, conflict, money matters, position and influence or status. There are many competing analytical models in politics, each with its own concepts or terminology and each with its own questions. Political Studies prepares you for a career in public affairs; former students include Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Tony Leon, Valli Moosa and  Judge Richard Goldstone. A degree in Political Studies yields opportunities to work in non-governmental organisations, the public sector, private businesses, diplomacy, international organisations, survey research organisations, development bodies and the media.


These courses introduce Portuguese in its spoken and written forms. You will develop an appreciation of Portuguese literature, thought, history and culture. Portuguese has significant status in Africa, as the official language of PALOP (Portuguese-speaking African countries).

The courses are designed for beginners and students with prior knowledge of Portuguese. They include a communicative approach based on conversation skills and facilitated by multimedia tools. Courses that align well with Portuguese include International Relations, Political Sciences, Media Studies and other language courses.


Psychology studies human experience, behaviour and the ways in which we relate to each other and our environment. Psychology offers a rich and diverse understanding of human functioning and is relevant to most aspects of our lives. As society has become more complex, Psychology plays an increasingly important role in understanding human behaviour and in shaping interventions to ensure optimal functioning of individuals, groups and communities. You can major in General Psychology or Organisational Psychology.


This field introduces the receptive and productive skills of South African Sign Language (SASL), vocabulary
in context, basic social functions and grammatical structures of SASL, the origins of signed language and the concepts underlying Deaf Culture and the Deaf Community. If you major in SASL, you will also study SASL linguistics, poetry and sociolinguistics for sign languages. SASL is recommended for students interested in Education, Deaf Education, Drama, Language and Psychology.


These courses introduce Spanish in its spoken and written forms and helps students to develop an appreciation of Spanish literature, thought and history.


Focus on the relationship between the arts, literature and society. This field introduces you to a range of literary texts written in the main European languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Russian). Courses explore transnational relations and reciprocal influences, especially regarding Francophone, Lusophone and South American Spanish texts.

Entry Requirements


APS 36+

English Home Language OR First Additional Language Level 5


Applicants with entry requirements of at least 30-35 APS points are wait-listed, subject to place availability.

International students click here for admission requirements.

University Application Process

  • 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.

Compliance with the minimum requirements does not guarantee a place at the University. The University has a specific number of places for first year undergraduates, approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees for the first year of study. The Fees 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. 

The Financial aid office provides information on student funding and scholarships. University-funded Scholarships include Vice-Chancellor's Scholarships, University Entrance Scholarships, Equality Scholarships, Sports Scholarships and National Olympiad winner awards. For information about NSFAS funding, please visit the NSFAS websiteExternal bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.

Wits Plus applicants: terms of payment are in accordance with University regulations, and students are not eligible for University bursaries/NSFAS or residential accommodation.