General Requirements

In order to be awarded an Honours degree you are required to complete four courses and a supervised research project leading to a dissertation of 10,000 words. Each course comprises 20% of your final mark. Subject to approval from the  Honours programme convenor, up to two courses may be taken in other departments at UCT. You may not take more than three courses in the first semester. Your choice of courses must be formally approved by Honours programme convenor to enable the department to function effectively on your behalf (and to keep track of what you are up to).


Your progress will be assessed in July, at the beginning of the second semester, and if you are not considered to be meeting the required standard, the department may advise that you discontinue the programme. This is not something to be unduly worried about, but may help to focus the mind. If you feel you need help at any point, please ask, as early assistance is preferable to emergency action later in the year. Your supervisor will be able to help you to meet the required standards, and UCT has many additional resources to support you when needed. 

Research Project

The dissertation counts 20% of your final mark. The research project must be carried out under the supervision of an academic in EGS. This 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 topic and research design must be approved by your supervisor before starting work on the project. The research project provides an introduction to research in your chosen field. Your proposal, which will be presented in the second quarter of the academic year, and the dissertation itself should demonstrate an appreciation of research design, be set in a relevant philosophical and theoretical context, propose appropriate methodologies, analytical procedures and techniques, and strive for the highest standards of description, discussion, interpretation and presentation.


It is important that the scale of the research project be contained to an appropriate level. Dissertations should be between 7000 and 10 000 words. In the assessment 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 the quality and style of presentation.

Research Proposal

Before embarking on the research project you will prepare a project proposal in collaboration with your supervisor, and present it before the department. The nature of the research project, its aims, objectives, conceptual/theoretical context, and methodology should be outlined. EGS staff and students will offer constructive critical comment and EGS staff will grade both the verbal and written proposal.

Research Report Back

This is the second of the two compulsory presentations in the Honours programme, and typically takes place as part of the Annual EGS Postgraduate Colloquium in September/October. In your presentation, you should outline the focus of your research topic, state your argument clearly, explain your methodology and arrive at a clearly stated conclusion. The use of visual aids is encouraged.

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.



There is a range of Honours courses on offer within the EGS department. Most are semester-long courses, but they can shift between first and second semesters in a given year, and not all courses are offered every year. For this reason we advise you to consult the EGS Postgraduate Handbook, which is published in Orientation Week each year and contains the definitive list of courses available for that year.


In addition to EGS courses, ere are many external courses available to EGS Honours students. In the past, students have taken modules housed in Law (Environmental Law for Non Lawyers PBL6036F), Economics (Environmental Economics ECO4052Z), Sociology (Development Studies SOC4024X), Botany, Social Anthropology and Political Science. The programme convenor may suggest cognate courses. Copies of the Science and Humanities Faculty Handbooks are available at the Faculty Offices and online.