General Requirements

In order to be awarded an Honours degree you are required to undertake Four Systematic Theory Modules. Each of these modules will count towards 20% of you final mark. Subject to approval from the stream convenor, two modules may be taken from other relevant departments at UCT. Students may take up to three of the systematic theory modules in the first semester. Your choice of modules must be formally approved by the head of your stream and written confirmation (signed by the head of stream) must be given to the Honours Convenor (Pippin Anderson) to enable the department to function effectively on your behalf (and to keep track of what you are up to).

Research Project

You are also required to write a Research Project which will count for 20% of your final mark. This project must be carried out under the supervision of an academic within your research stream. The research project (dissertation) is an integral component of the Honours degree programme and it is not possible to be awarded an Honours degree without passing this component of the course. The research project accounts for 20% of the year total. The topic and research design must be approved by a supervisor before starting work on the project. Suggested project titles will be selected in consultation with a supervisor. The Project provides an introduction to the discipline of research. It should demonstrate an appreciation of research design, be set in a relevant philosophical and theoretical context, use appropriate methodology, analytical procedures and techniques and strive to reach the highest standards of description, discussion, interpretation and presentation.

It is important that the scale of the research undertaken for the project be contained to a level appropriate to the task at hand. Projects should be between 7000 and 10 000 words. In the evaluation of the project, stress is laid upon: The conceptual framework and literature survey, problem formulation and research design, application of theory/concepts in empirical analysis and interpretation, data collection, manipulation and interpretation, and quality and style of dissertation presentation.

Research Proposal: Before embarking on the research project, each student must prepare a project proposal in collaboration with a supervisor and approved by the Honours co-ordinator. The proposal will be presented to a select sub-committee comprising staff and students. The nature of the research project, its aims, objectives, conceptual/theoretical context, and methodology should be outlined. The sub-committee will offer constructive critical comment and the members of staff will provide a mark assessment based on both the verbal and written proposal. To clarify thought on the components of the research project constructive discussion on the proposal should be offered by the audience at this open seminar.

Research Report Back: This forms the second of the two compulsory seminars. The presentation of the research findings from the student project should take up approximately 15 minutes of presentation time. During this period students should strive to establish a focus concerning their research topic, to define their argument clearly, to encapsulate it in relatively few strongly made points and to arrive at a clearly stated conclusion. Use of visual aids is encouraged. Each presentation will be followed by 10 minutes of discussion and questions.

Your progress will be assessed in July, at the end of the first semester, and if you are considered to not be meeting the required standard the department may advise that you do not continue the course. This is not something to be unduly worried about, but may help to focus the mind. Guidelines for academic writing can be found on here. Your head of stream should explain the required standards and your supervisor should be able to help you to meet them.


For more on applications please go to: Honours Applications 

There are a number of external modules available to EGS Honours Students. In the past students have taken modules from within the Law (Environmental Law for Non Lawyers PBL6036F), Economics (Environmental Economics ECO4052Z), Sociology (Development Studies SOC4024X), Botany, Social Anthropology and Political Science Departments. There is a vast array of possible options and the convenor of your stream may suggest cognate modules. Copies of the Graduate School in Humanities and Faculty of Science Handbooks are available at the Faculty Offices. The handbooks are also available on the UCT webpage under current students/postgraduate/handbooks.
EGS4023F - Research Methods in the Natural Sciences (First Semester)

Description of Course: This module is an introduction to essential skills and techniques required for investigating and analysing problems encountered in the natural sciences. It is compulsory for all Physical Research and Atmospheric Science students. 
All non-Environmental Management Honours Students must take either EGS4023Z or SOC4024X.

EGS4024S - Climate Variability and Climate Modelling (Second Semester)

Convenor: Babatunde Abiodun & Bill Gutowski (Iowa State University)

Description of Course: The module examines atmospheric and ocean general circulation models that are used to model climate variability and climate change. Emphasis is placed on African applications. Students are expected to have done EGS3012S or its equivalent.

EGS4025F - Geomorphology of southern Africa (First Semester)

Description of Course: The aim of this course is to introduce students to the theory of geomorphological systems and apply this to an area or topic of their choice. The course is particularly targeted at Hons students who have selected physical geography topics for their dissertation. It gives them the opportunity to deepen some of their geomorphological literature relevant to their chosen project. Students are expected to interpret landscapes, identify formative processes and events, examine environmental changes at different spatial and temporal scales, place their area of study into the geological, Quaternary, climatic and applied context in order to appreciate geomorphologic concepts such as systems approach, complexity, relationships, feedbacks, thresholds, equilibrium and cycles.

EGS4027S - Quaternary Palaeoecology (Second Semester)

ConvenorMike Meadows

Description of Course: The aim of this course is to develop an understanding of how plant and animal communities respond to environmental change and uses the later Quaternary period as an archive. We explore key types of evidence for environmental change, including pollen, charcoal and micro-mammals. The course is presented jointly with the Department of Botany and Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town. The module can accommodate 4-6 students.

EGS4032S - Living with environmental change (Second Semester)

Description of Course: This module aims to ground students in the core theoretical and policy debates on global environmental change. There will be a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The course will include links to international policy, science communication, risk management and environmental economics. Throughout the course there will be a focus on how science links to development and policy through specific examples as well as placing global environmental change in its wider current, social/political/economic context. Students will also gain experience in different methods for assessing vulnerability and social impacts and developing risk communication and adaptation strategies.

EGS4035F - Identity and community in a global age (First Semester)

ConvenorShari Daya

Description of Course: This course introduces students to major debates around issues of identity in the context of our late modern, globalised era, foregrounding issues of power through the conceptual lenses of gender, race and class. It aims to address such questions as: does increasing globalisation lead to a worldwide 'McDonaldisation' of culture and dissolution of community, or is it more true to say that modernity is characterised by greater differentiation of cultural forms and the re-shaping of social networks and boundaries? Alternatively, could we argue that modernity is characterised by both these sets of processes, as well as their complex and profoundly contextual mutual interactions? To explore these questions, theories and practices of identity-formation are investigated with regard to both the individual self and social networks, linking multiple geographical scales from the body to the nation-state and beyond. Theories of identity and community, and their political implications, are explored through a diverse range of social 'texts'. These may include writing (e.g. autobiography, fiction), visual media (e.g. film, advertisements), web resources (e.g. Facebook, blogs), performance (e.g. dance, drama), everyday practices (e.g. cooking, breastfeeding) and domestic objects (e.g. photographs, furniture). Method of examination: Literature review, short topical report, oral presentation, class participation, an essay, and one take-home exam.

EGS4038F - Climate Change and Predictability (First Semester)

Description of Course: The course explores the theory of climate change, and then goes into the question of predictability, cross scale relationships and feedbacks in the climate system, the tools and techniques of prediction, and translation of predictions into the user community including impacts and vulnerability analyses and touching on the social dimension.

EGS4039F - Urban Food Security (First Semester)

Description of Course: Topics include an overview of poverty and urbanization in Southern Africa; urban food security, methods and issues; urban poverty and vulnerability debates; food security and HIV/AIDS; managing urban food systems (ecological, regulatory and fiscal dynamics).