Sfiso Sabela sought to interact with the best minds in the field to realise his passion for politics. Monday Hassan Zitta moved from Nigeria in search of a cosmopolitan experience. University is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and he wanted to be surrounded by talent from all four corners of the globe.
Cameroonian and journalism graduate Maureen Namondo Lifongo was impressed by the quality of lecturers and their expertise. For Sandile Moloi, he was drawn by its performance in domestic and international rankings.
At the University of Johannesburg (UJ), they are seeing their expectations met. Here, students seeking a bachelor’s, honours, master’s or PhD degree in Politics and International Relations have a home to realise their aspirations. Nurtured by experts and inspired by a wide range of topics offered, it’s a place where one has the support to contribute to academic literature and to improve the human condition. As UJ students, they are on track to advance critical and professional scholarship in Politics and International Relations through research, teaching and community service.
For Moloi, the star professors are the highlight of his undergraduate and postgraduate journey at UJ. “Professor Suzy Graham lectured me for two years (Politics 1B and Politics 2D). She cultivated my interest in peace and security studies,” he shares. His favourite postgrad lecturers are Professor Chris Landsberg, Professor Suzy Graham, and Dr. Lisa Otto.
The first two supervised his Honours mini dissertation. “They played a stunning role as supervisors,” Moloi explains. “Professor Landsberg played a tremendous role in my MA dissertation by providing guidance and criticism. He allowed me to take ownership of my study while providing vital guidance.”
Whenever they faced challenges with their shift to online learning, UJ students could rely on their professors. “Since I did Masters by Research, I did not have classes to attend but my supervisor Professor Sadie was very patient and meticulous with my work. Both my supervisors for my PHD: Professor Anna-Mart van Wyk and are awesome and I wished I had known them earlier as they make a formidable team,” shares Lifongo. “They encourage and inspire me in many ways. They are so understanding, pre- and post-pandemic, and I feel I can confide in them if I am going through a rough patch.”
Add an active and engaging campus community, diverse opportunities and numerous areas of research — and the University of Johannesburg is in a league of its own. It’s a combination of factors that produces well-rounded graduates.
Lifongo is now confident with the suite of hard and soft skills she’s gained thus far: time management, searching for information, solving problems, attention to detail, patience, communication skills and teamwork.
“The above skills will equip me as I intend to follow my dream to become a good researcher and also a better communicator who is attentive to detail,” she explains. “Also, it has made me realise the importance of teamwork, time management and patience — qualities which will guide me as I move forward in my career.”
For Sabela, a BA Hons in African Studies student, he’s gained a tech-forward arsenal of skills. “The three hard skills I developed are computer proficiency, data extraction and a certificate in artificial intelligence,” he shares.
That’s not all. He was part of a research working group founded by head tutor Sven Botha and a member of the steering committee of the department’s mentorship and peer-support programme. Thanks to these, he now counts soft skills like leadership, mentorship and teamwork as part of his repertoire — and uses them to good ends. “I have used these skills to provide psychosocial support to first year students while I’ve also used these skills to secure an internship opportunity at a trade union as a junior researcher.”
The necessary critical skills to understand and meet challenges
At the Department of Politics and International Relations, programmes are offered in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The undergraduate Politics curriculum includes courses such as Introduction to Politics; South African Politics;Comparative Politics; Policy Analysis and African Political Thought. The undergraduate International Relations curriculum covers courses like Introduction to International Relations; Foreign Policy Analysis; South African Foreign Policy; Africa’s Defining Moments and International Political Economy.
At the postgraduate level, UJ offers degrees at honours, master’s and doctoral levels. The Honours degree combines both Politics and International Relations subjects and includes a compulsory module in Research Methodology. This module involves theoretical coursework as well as a compulsory mini dissertation (or long essay).
The compulsory research module is taken with four auxiliary modules, chosen from, amongst others, International Organisations; Key Issues in International Relations; Key Issues in South African Politics; Global Political Economy; International Conflict; Political Risk Thought Systems and Theories in Politics; and Key Issues in Comparative Politics. The department is also part of an interdisciplinary honours degree in at UJ which offers students the chance to broaden their understanding of the key issues facing the African continent historically and today.
To learn more about how UJ is leading our understanding of the human condition, click here.