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Areas of Specialisation
Home > Applying to Commerce > Areas of Specialisation

Areas of Specialisation

  • Accounting

    Accounting (BCom and BBusSc)

    Accounting is the language of business used by Investors, Management, Entrepreneurs, Lenders, Financial analysts and Government bodies. Accountants analyse businesses and communicate information to stakeholders.

    It is not necessary to have done Accounting at school if you wish to do Accounting at UCT. University accounting differs from school accounting in that it focuses on the decisions involved in the preparation of accounts as opposed to the mechanics of recording. Successful accountants can think logically, communicate effectively and enjoy working with people, they behave ethically and have a willingness to develop sound judgement.

    An Accounting programme is useful for anyone who wishes to prepare for a career in business or in the accounting profession. With this qualification you will be able to work in any size or type of organisation and in any employment sector in any country. Successful professional accountants must be able to think logically, laterally and strategically. They must be able to make sound decisions based on a broad business perspective and their expertise in the following disciplines, (any one of which can become an area of further specialisation):

    Financial Accounting

    Financial accounting is the preparation and communication of the information relating to financial activities of the organisation.

    Taxation

    Taxation is the structuring and determination of all the company's taxes in a legal and efficient manner.

    Management Accounting

    Managerial accounting provides the information required by managers for the decision making and control of the organisation.

    Financial Management

    Financial management is about making financial and investment decisions in terms of the long term objectives for your organisation.

    Auditing

    Auditing is the evaluation of the integrity of information.

    Students wishing to specialise in accounting can register for either the three year (4 year EDU) BCom or the 4 year (5 year EDU) BBusSc. Both of these degrees offer a number of different combinations of subjects in addition to accounting.

    The accounting specialistion is offered as:

    • BCom (General Accountant)
    • BCom (Chartered Accountant) commonly referred to as the CA stream
    • BCom (Accounting and Law)
    • BBusSc (Finance CA or Non-CA option)

    The main difference between the General Accountant (GA) and Chartered Accountant (CA) streams is that in the 3rd year GA students do terminating courses in Accounting III and Tax I (ACC IIIT and Tax IT).

    BCom (General Accountant)

    This degree is designed to give students a broad understanding of accounting and provides a more practical business focus than the BCom (C.A. stream) and the BCom (Accounting and Law). It serves as a basis for the opportunity to enter several highly respected international professional bodies such as ACCA and CIMA It is designed to serve the needs of students who do not wish to proceed to the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA) and continuing to qualify as Chartered Accounts [CA(SA)], but nonetheless appreciate the value of an accounting degree.

    Graduates with this qualification could aim to become General Managers, Business Advisors, Accountants, Tax Officials, Accounting Officers, Company Secretaries, Internal Auditors, Tax Advisors.

    BCom (CA) or BBusSc (Finance CA option)

    The CA stream is designed for the students who are interested in qualifying as Chartered Accountants. The students are being prepared for the PGDA and the Professional Qualifying Examinations. Students selecting these options should be aiming towards the Chartered Accountant qualification.

    Persons with this qualification could aim to become key members of top management teams such as the Managing Director or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tax Consultants, Financial Advisors, Financial Directors, Asset Managers, Information system auditors, Partners in an auditing practice, Forensic auditors.

    BCom (Accounting and Law)

    This combined accounting and law programme is designed for students who are interested in a legal career with a commercial background.

    The first year courses for all three BCom options are identical so that students will not have made their final decision until they have experienced accounting at a tertiary level. BBusSc students do Accounting only in their second academic year of study.

    Please note that any professional qualification requires a period of practical training in addition to the academic qualification.

    Professional qualifications

    Opportunities are available to students who choose Accounting as an area of specialisation to proceed, with further study and practical experience, to the attainment of a professional qualification through the various Accounting institutes. UCT does not at this stage provide tuition for completing professional examinations, other than for the SAICA qualification. Most professional institutes grant extensive exemptions for students with qualifications from UCT. The most notable of these institutes are the following:

    • CFA: Offered by the Institute of Commercial and Financial Accountants of Southern Africa.
    • CIMA: Offered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. This is an Institute based in the UK which has an office in South Africa.
    • ACCA: Offered by the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants. This is an Institute based in the UK which has an office in South Africa.
    • CA(SA): Offered by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
    • (SAICA). The Department of Accounting offers the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA), a one year full-time or an extended two year fulltime course, to selected accounting majors who wish to obtain the CA (SA).

    Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting: Students who have graduated with the BCom Chartered Accountant Stream or BBusSc Finance CA Option Stream are eligible to register for the one year full-time PGDA, provided they meet the academic standards for entry, through obtaining the required marks in their previous year of study. On successful completion of the PGDA a student is eligible to write Part I of the SAICA. After successful completion of the specialisation in auditing or financial management, and successful completion of the second professional examination and a period of traineeship with an auditing firm (TIPP) or a registered commercial organisation (TOPP), the student will be eligible to apply for the designation CA (SA).

    Visit the College of Accounting website. 

  • Actuarial Science

    Actuarial Science (BBusSc)

    An actuary is trained to be a master of mathematics,probability, statistics and compound interest, particularly in relation to financial and demographic problems. A high degree of numeracy is required in order to manipulate figures efficiently and easily but this is not sufficient,for an actuary is required to extract and interpret the often hidden meaning behind figures.

    There are at present about 500 qualified actuaries in South Africa, most of whom are employed in the life assurance industry or related areas, but there is a growing awareness that the skills and training of an actuary place him or her in a position to make a unique contribution to many other fields.

    The profession is particularly suited to anyone who is willing to undertake several years of exacting study and has a well disciplined approach to problem solving.

    Since the professional qualification is so demanding, the University will generally require an applicant to have obtained at least 80%for higher grade mathematics and an average mark above 70% with at least 60%for English (first language, higher grade).

    In order to practise as an actuary in South Africa, one needs to be a Fellow of either the Institute of Actuaries (London), the Faculty of Actuaries (Edinburgh) or the Actuarial Society of America. To qualify as a Fellow of one of these bodies one needs to pass the examinations set by them. All studying is done by correspondence and before a South African student is allowed to enrol for the examinations he or she needs to obtain a high pass mark in first-year university mathematics.

    The University of Cape Town was the first university in South Africa to offer a degree specialising in Actuarial Science. This course has been designed to include much of the material covered by the early professional examinations and the successful student can expect to be exempted from a number of the professional examinations in addition to gaining a broad business qualification offered by a BBusSc degree.

    The Actuarial Science section of the Department is the largest and most qualified in the country. It manages to attract over 200 new undergraduate students and about 50 postgraduate students each year. Studying these courses through the university also enables the student to attend lectures given by qualified staff rather than to have to study by correspondence. UCT graduates consistently achieve the greatest number of exemptions on average of any university in South Africa.

    In addition, the Actuarial Science section offers a Postgraduate Diploma/Masters in Actuarial Science. These courses cover the material in the remaining professional examinations and have greatly assisted in establishing Cape Town as one of the centres with the highest qualification rates in the world.

    Another first for the section was the introduction of a Postgraduate Diploma in Management (Actuarial Conversion Course). This is an intensive one- or two-year programme, unique to South Africa, which has been specifically designed to provide exceptional graduates accelerated entry into an actuarial career from disciplines other than Actuarial Science.

    Visit the Actuarial Science Website. 

  • Computer Science

    Computer Science (BBusSc)

    At University the emphasis in Computer Science is on the principles underlying computing, including the structure and nature of the computer itself, the development and use of programming languages, as well as the application of the computer as a tool in problem solving.

    Computing, when combined with Business Science, provides the student with an understanding of scientific management as well as the skills of a computer scientist which equips him/her for the consultancy profession. This course is an excellent combination of in-depth computer skills and management techniques. It allows the student to subsequently choose either a technical or managerial career.

    Students in Computer Science should be precise and able to work out the solution to a problem in a logical manner. He/she also needs to be creative, resourceful and responsible. A good pass in Higher Grade Mathematics in Matriculation examination is required.

    A wide variety of careers are open to graduates in Computer Science. Some examples include:

    • Systems Analyst/Designer, the link between the programmer and the user converting the users requirements into system designs;
    • Programmer, the conversion of system designs into a form understood by the computer. Application programmers are concerned more with business requirements, whereas technical programmers are concerned primarily with more complex tasks.
    • Technical specialists are experts in areas such as data communication networks, databases and operating systems.
    • Research and Development, both in the commercial and university worlds, is a rewarding experience for those that are academically minded.

    Visit the Computer Science Website

  • Economics

    Economics (BCom and BBusSc)

    The School of Economics at UCT is one of the largest departments in the University offering tuition to more than 3500 undergraduate students and approximately 100 postgraduate students. At UCT, as at universities all over the world, enrolments in economics classes are growing more rapidly than in any other discipline. This is not surprising. There exists even broadening scope for students who have specialised or majored, in economics during their studies who wish to pursue a career in the field.

    Why Take a Programme with a Strong Economics Component?

    Economics is the study of Economic life. It asks what, how and why goods are produced, and who benefits. Economics covers micro subjects like the economics of the firm (profit maximisation etc) and macro issues like unemployment, inflation and economic growth. All of UCT s Economics programmes require that you do core micro- and macro- courses in first, second and third year. Other economics courses (some optional, some compulsory depending on the programme) include International Trade, Labour and Development Economics, Public Sector Economics and Resource Economics

    The more economics you do, the more you will understand economic policy dilemmas, the complexities of the economic growth crises, etc. You will, in other words, be able to talk much more sensibly about economic issues than you would if you just took core economics subjects. Having this skill will enrich your business life (and certainly make you appear more intelligent in an interview!). It will also improve your attractiveness to many employers. Graduates who can think clearly and logically about the broader economic environment have a lot to offer potential employers especially those in asset-management, stockbroking, merchant banking, investment guidance and management consulting. Most jobs in business require further training, and a background in economics is usually a good signal to employers that you are capable of analytical thinking and are worth training further.

    Philosophy, Politics & Economics

    The PPE is the Schools mainstream undergraduate economics programme, offering students the full range of the disciplines areas and approaches, with a range of carefully chosen related subjects. The UCT PPEdegree places a unique focus on the special economic, political and ethical aspects of the private sector and public sector policy formation in the age of accelerating commercial and information globalisation. PPE seeks to prepare citizens of the world, with skills applicable to a broad range of challenging careers.

    The PPE degree is designed to open a variety of career opportunities. Students who are interested in formulating economic policy, taking account of the implication of such policies for the political and ethical governance of the world, will find the PPE programme the ideal field of study for South Africa. Graduates will obtain an excellent first degree, which, especially if combined with postgraduate studies in Economics or related fields, will be a sound foundation for a career in policymaking in the public and private sector. It is also an ideal beginning for a student who aspires a to career as an international trade diplomat or private/ public sector trade policy analyst.

    Economics & Finance

    The Economics and Finance programme combines a full major inEconomics with courses in financial options and management that together provide students with the skills needed to understand and operate in the worldof finance. Students interested in careers in investment banking, asset management, equity consulting and other areas of finance that required both technical expertise and a critical understanding of economic forecasting will find this an ideal first degree.

    Economics & Statistics

    The Economics and Statistics programme combines full majors in both Economics and Statistics. It provides a highly distinctive first degree for students interested in careers as economic forecasters and econometricians(the name of the profession that measures such crucial concepts of daily attention and importance as GDP, the inflation rate, the national savings rate,etc.) A student who completes this programme thereby sends an unusually strong and convincing signal to the market that he or she has strong technical aptitude and confidence, attributes of which the employment market is always short.

    Economics & Law

    The Economics and Law programme is intended only for students who are interested in a law career with a commercial background or who wish to continue with an LLB degree.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How, where and when do I register as a professional economist?

    Economists do not have to register with a professional body or write a qualifying exam before they can work as economists. In fact, very few economics graduates will ever be appointed in positions carrying the job description of Economist.

    Economics is offered in three faculties, and in this Facultyin four different programmes. How do I know which programme is right for me?

    The answer depends to a large extent on the career that you hope to follow. While you can easily switch between economics programmes during the first two years, each programme takes a different focus in year three. Consult a student advisor and study the programme content carefully to help you decide which is best for you.

    What are the possibilities for further study at postgraduate level?

    Graduates from all economics programmes will be eligible to apply for Honours level (and beyond) study in economics at UCT or abroad. The school of Economics also offers a Masters by dissertation and coursework and PhD degrees.

    Graduates with a PPE degree will also be eligible for postgraduate study in Political Science, Public Administration, Philosophy, Mathematics, Accounting or Finance, depending on the students choice of second major. A graduate of the Economics and Finance programme will also be eligible for postgraduate study in Finance, and a graduate of the Economics andStatistics programme will be eligible for postgraduate studies in Statistics.UCT s Economic degrees carry full international recognition because of their carefully designed content, which makes them complementary with all similar programmes abroad.

    Visit the School of Economics' Website.

  • Finance

    Finance (BCom and BBusSc)

    Finance is a modern and exciting discipline and the most popular of the BBusSc streams.

    Two recent trends have fuelled the value of finance as a globally recognised profession and underpin its relevance for the 21st century. The first is the world-wide move to deregulation and the opening of markets which has coincided with an almost universal appreciation of the importance of capital and investment for growth and prosperity. The second is the phenomenal growth in finance theory, computing power and financial research. The impact has been extreme. There are few businesses today that are not acutely aware of the significance of markets and financial planning for their viability.

    Financial assets represent claims on other assets. For example, money is a claim on goods and services; stocks and bonds and futures contracts are all claims on future dividends or cash-flows. Finance is concerned with the creation and valuation of these claims, the markets in which they are traded, and their use by both individuals and corporations.

    Finance, as a discipline, is broken down into two primary components: the pricing and valuation of assets (Investments) and the structure and financial decision making of firms (Corporate Finance). While investment finance takes the perspective of the investor, corporate finance takes the perspective of the investee. The study of finance is characterised by the development of theoretical models and the subsequent empirical testing of those models. This stream thus makes intensive use of the quantitative skills that students develop simultaneously during their undergraduate study.

    Career opportunities in finance are many and varied. They can be broadly broken down into three categories:

    Corporate Finance. People who work in a corporate setting are concerned with acquiring funds for the operation and growth of the firm, the firm's capital expenditure decisions, and the analysis of the firm's operations and performance.

    Institutional Finance. Financial institutions serve as financial intermediaries between savers and users of financial capital. Financial professionals often work in banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, pension funds, and other financial institutions.

    Investments. The people who have careers in the investments area are concerned with how stocks and bonds are valued, and the management of investment portfolios. Many of these jobs are with banks, brokerage houses, and fund managers.

    Problems in finance do not occur in isolation of other disciplines. The finance stream thus includes courses in accountancy, economics, business strategy, and law and requires the quantitative skills needed to make informed decisions.

    Visit the Finance and Tax website.

  • Human Resource Management (see Organisational Psychology)

    Organisational Psychology (BBusSc)

    What is Organisational Psychology?

    Organisational Psychology is an applied area of Psychology that deals with human behaviour in the workplace. Working behaviour is a bit different from everyday behaviour, as it occurs within a specific context of an organisation. An organisation can be anything from a big corporate to a small business to a non-governmental organisation.

    Organisational Psychology developed as an applied field in about 1910, so it is quite a new area (in comparison with applications in health and education which are older and more established as knowledge areas). Organisational Psychology has gone through a number of significant phases as the world of work has changed over the years:

    • The psychotechnics or job selection phase (1910-1960) where the focus was on personnel selection and vocational guidance
    • The human relations phase (1920-1980) where organisational psychologists focused on the social dynamics of the workplace (e.g. workers attitudes to work; organisational climate; etc.)
    • The human resource management phase (since 1985 to the present) where the central idea is that people are to be valued as an organisational asset rather than a necessity or a cost.

    In South Africa, universities differ in their thinking about human Resource Management and Organisational Psychology. At some universitiesHuman Resource Management is presented as a separate subject area from organisational Psychology. At UCT we take the position that Human ResourceManagement is an integral part and a current historical phase of OrganisationalPsychology. In this way students learn about human resource systems, human behaviour and the nature of organisations in order to end up with an integrated view of people, process and context.

    What it leads to

    A degree in Organisational Psychology opens up a wide variety of employment opportunities. The one most people think about first is becoming a human resource manager and dealing with people issues in organisations. However, this is just one possibility. If you are interested in learning and teaching people, you can become a training and development specialist, or even specialise in on-line learning. With OrganisationalPsychology you can also work in the area of reward management, where you provide guidance regarding job grades and levels and the pay and benefits associated with these. Another area of work is industrial relations. An industrial relations manager is the custodian of fair labour practice in an organisation and supports other managers to treat their employees in a fair and legal manner. You can also become a recruitment and selection specialist someone who matches new staff to suitable positions in the organisation. Another area of work is organisational change. In this area, you support people and organisations through change (e.g. mergers, acquisitions, new product or service offerings; organisational culture change, etc.). You can also work in fields like organisational communication; health, safety and well-being; performance management; etc. Another exciting area of work is the evaluation of human resource programmes where you advise human resource practitioners which programmes are most suitable to their circumstances or which programmes have proven impact on the organisation.

    In fact, the knowledge and skills you gain in Organisational Psychology will enable you to be successful in many jobs, as you will leave the university as competent knowledge workers: people who can label and describe human behaviour in the workplace, people who can distinguish patterns in work behaviour and people who can identify problems and find innovative solutions for these organisational problems.

    Professional Qualifications

    You can register with two professional bodies in our subject area. The South African Health Professions Council registers you as a counsellor or an Organisational Psychologist. Registration as a Counsellor in a specific area requires an Honours degree plus a six months internship. To become an Organisational Psychologist, you need a Masters degree and a one-year internship. As a registered Counsellor, you can do counselling in a specific area. As a registered Organisational Psychologist, you can conduct psychometric testing.

    The South African Board of Personnel Practice will register you as a practitioner after you have done a number of required courses (all included in our undergraduate programme) and worked for a specified length of time. There are different levels of practitioner registration depending on the level of the courses and the length of work experience. Currently, there are no specific professional tasks demarcated for Human Resource Practitioners (theSouth African Board of Personnel Practice is still consulting on these professional tasks).

    Frequently Asked Questions

    I see that technikons offer human resource diplomas and degrees. How do these differ from a degree in Organisational Psychology?

    At a technikon, your education will focus on human resource processes (recruitment, selection, training, performance management, etc.), while at the university the focus is on the behaviour of people, human resource processes and an understanding of the organisational context of working. While a technikon education will give you immediate, job-relevant skills, a university education will provide an overview of these skills, but with more emphasis on knowledge work (problem-solving, providing solutions, etc.).

    Does it matter in which faculty an Organisational Psychology department is located?

    Some universities have located their OrganisationalPsychology departments in Schools of Psychology in Humanities or Social ScienceFaculties. At UCT we are located in the faculty that deals with the world of work, namely the Commerce Faculty. The quality of the content of the OrganisationalPsychology course (an integrated, in-depth offering of human behaviour in the workplace) is much more important than its location within a university structure.

    Is this really a good study direction for finding a job?

    In South Africa, we are experiencing a general skills shortage and working in the area of workplace skills and people management is excellent preparation for the job market. As the area of OrganisationalPsychology is so varied, specialisation in a people, process or organisationally focused area provides even more job opportunities.

    I see that the BBusSc is a four-year degree. As a BusinessScience student, do I automatically qualify for the BBusSc Honours year when I have completed the third year?

    Completing the third year of your BBusSc degree does not qualify you automatically for the Honours year. Entry into the Honours year is subject to an independent selection process.

    So what happens if I am not selected into the Honours year?

    Students who do not qualify for admission to the Honours year will be required to register for courses selected in consultation with the head of the Organisational Psychology Section. Successful completion of these courses will lead to the award of the BBusSc degree.

    Visit the Organisational Psychology Website.

  • Information Systems

    The Department of Information Systems offers a range of qualifications and courses accommodating students from 1st year to PhD levels. 

    Our undergraduate programme ties in with the internationally recognised IS curriculum.  Our postgraduate courses cater for both part-time and full-time students. Our postgraduate offerings in the Postgraduate Diploma, Honours, Masters and PhD areas compare excellently with courses offered by other leading universities in the global arena.

    The IS Department’s mission is to be a leading African centre for research and study of information systems, producing world class graduates and research while playing a positive role in the upliftment and empowerment of our community. This is only possible through the excellent endeavour of our academic staff, all with strong IS/IT background, in theoretical and research areas, as well as contemporary industry experience.

    In all courses up to Honours level extensive practical project work is done with a variety of system development tools.  At senior levels, students interact with real clients outside the university, building valuable career skills while developing small commercial applications.

  • Economics & Law

    Law Specialisation

    Law (BCom and BBusSc)

    Applicants wishing to qualify to practise as an attorney or advocate in South Africa may complete any Bachelors degree followed by the three year LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree. The entrance requirements for the LLB are a bachelors degree with certain pass levels in this first degree. With certain undergraduate degrees, including the BCom and BBusSc Law streams it is possible to complete the LLB degree in two years rather than three. This is because the courses offered in the first year of the LLB have been incorporated into the curricula of these degrees. Law Streams are included in the BCom Accounting Programme, the BCom Economics Programme and the BBusSc Management Studies Programme.

    What does it lead to?

    Commerce graduates with an LLB are in considerable demand in the legal profession because of their focus on the Commercial aspects of law. They assist clients with compliance of rules and regulations to do with stock market activities such as flotations, mergers, acquisitions, and share transactions etc. as well as giving advice to clients on legalities that concern their business processes.

    Other graduates find employment in the legal departments of large companies and are sought after by banks, financial institutions and accounting firms.

    Visit the Faculty of Law website.

  • Marketing

    Marketing (BBusSc)

    The Marketing special field has always drawn students because it is seen to be an area of study which leads to exciting and challenging work both locally and overseas. Marketing has become recognised as being crucial to success in not only the private sector but also in many other organisations not traditionally regarded as being business enterprises. Indeed, given the massive changes taking place in our social, economic and political environment, the tasks of identifying and serving customers' needs, managing communications with its ever-advancing technology and meeting management objectives through marketing strategy have never been more challenging.

    The Marketing stream within Business Science is well equipped to prepare students to be effective to meet these challenges.

    Marketing begins with the customer, not with the production process. Using the scientific application of marketing research, the marketer is in a position to determine what target market to serve, which products or services to develop, design and package, how to price them, how best to make them available to their markets and what sort of pricing strategy to adopt. The marketer must also select the appropriate communication techniques using the most efficient media to make the market aware of the company's offerings. This fundamental approach is used by marketers irrespective of the market in which they operate and this includes NGO's (not-for-profit organisations),informally-derived businesses as well as large corporations.

    In order to achieve an understanding of the marketing process as well as to develop the skills required to implement marketing strategy, students are initially given a broad overview which includes economics, behavioural science, law, mathematics and statistics; thereafter, the educational process focuses on specific marketing functions such as marketing research, product selection, design and development, pricing policy, advertising and sales promotion, retailing, wholesaling and physical distribution and strategic marketing. The different forms of marketing also receive attention, viz consumer, industrial, services, social and international marketing. Classes are run by our team of academic staff well-supported by marketing practitioners who give willingly of their time. The study takes place in the lecture room as well as in the field as students do practical projects and a dissertation.

    The BBusSc Marketing Stream has been carefully structured to develop the discipline of marketing out of a broad base of relevant and supporting business courses.

    The introductory Marketing I course is taught in the second year after students have been given a grounding in economics, mathematics, statistics, behavioural sciences and information systems. The third and fourth years are specialist years as far as marketing is concerned and consumer behaviour, marketing communications, international marketing, industrial marketing, marketing research are all covered. In addition, students are expected to write a marketing paper or dissertation where they can show evidence of critical analysis when considering a marketing problem.

    The increasing demand for marketing graduates who can immediately apply their knowledge and skills in the workplace and particularly those who have a solid knowledge of the fundamentals of business testifies to the popularity of the marketing stream of the Business Science degree and the postgraduate Diploma. Career prospects are not limited to those types of companies traditionally associated with marketing, i.e. consumer goods sellers. Banks, insurance companies, retailers, the public sector and many other organisations are employing Marketing graduates on an increasingly greater scale. In addition, with the emphasis today on small business, many graduates find great success in starting their own businesses.

    Visit the Marketing Studies website. 

  • Organisational Psychology

    Organisational Psychology (BBusSc)

    What is Organisational Psychology?

    Organisational Psychology is an applied area of Psychology that deals with human behaviour in the workplace. Working behaviour is a bit different from everyday behaviour, as it occurs within a specific context of an organisation. An organisation can be anything from a big corporate to a small business to a non-governmental organisation.

    Organisational Psychology developed as an applied field in about 1910, so it is quite a new area (in comparison with applications in health and education which are older and more established as knowledge areas). Organisational Psychology has gone through a number of significant phases as the world of work has changed over the years:

    • The psychotechnics or job selection phase (1910-1960) where the focus was on personnel selection and vocational guidance
    • The human relations phase (1920-1980) where organisational psychologists focused on the social dynamics of the workplace (e.g. workers attitudes to work; organisational climate; etc.)
    • The human resource management phase (since 1985 to the present) where the central idea is that people are to be valued as an organisational asset rather than a necessity or a cost.

    In South Africa, universities differ in their thinking about human Resource Management and Organisational Psychology. At some universitiesHuman Resource Management is presented as a separate subject area from organisational Psychology. At UCT we take the position that Human ResourceManagement is an integral part and a current historical phase of OrganisationalPsychology. In this way, students learn about human resource systems, human behaviour and the nature of organisations in order to end up with an integrated view of people, process and context.

    What it leads to

    A degree in Organisational Psychology opens up a wide variety of employment opportunities. The one most people think about first becoming a human resource manager and dealing with people issues in organisations. However, this is just one possibility. If you are interested in learning and teaching people, you can become a training and development specialist, or even specialise in on-line learning. With OrganisationalPsychology you can also work in the area of reward management, where you provide guidance regarding job grades and levels and the pay and benefits associated with these. Another area of work is industrial relations. An industrial relations manager is the custodian of fair labour practice in an organisation and supports other managers to treat their employees in a fair and legal manner. You can also become a recruitment and selection specialist someone who matches new staff to suitable positions in the organisation. Another area of work is organisational change. In this area, you support people and organisations through change (e.g. mergers, acquisitions, new product or service offerings; organisational culture change, etc.). You can also work in fields like organisational communication; health, safety and well-being; performance management; etc. Another exciting area of work is the evaluation of human resource programmes where you advise human resource practitioners which programmes are most suitable to their circumstances or which programmes have proven impact on the organisation.

    In fact, the knowledge and skills you gain in OrganisationalPsychology will enable you to be successful in many jobs, as you will leave the university as competent knowledge workers: people who can label and describe human behaviour in the workplace, people who can distinguish patterns in work behaviour and people who can identify problems and find innovative solutions for these organisational problems.

    Professional Qualifications

    You can register with two professional bodies in our subject area. The South African Health Professions Council registers you as a counsellor or an Organisational Psychologist. Registration as a Counsellor in a specific area requires an Honours degree plus a six months internship. To become an Organisational Psychologist, you need a Masters degree and a one-year internship. As a registered Counsellor, you can do counselling in a specific area. As a registered Organisational Psychologist, you can conduct psychometric testing.

    The South African Board of Personnel Practice will register you as a practitioner after you have done a number of required courses (all included in our undergraduate programme) and worked for a specified length of time. There are different levels of practitioner registration depending on the level of the courses and the length of work experience. Currently, there are no specific professional tasks demarcated for Human Resource Practitioners (theSouth African Board of Personnel Practice is still consulting on these professional tasks).

    Frequently Asked Questions

    I see that technikons offer human resource diplomas and degrees. How do these differ from a degree in Organisational Psychology?

    At a technikon, your education will focus on human resource processes (recruitment, selection, training, performance management, etc.), while at the university the focus is on the behaviour of people, human resource processes and an understanding of the organisational context of working. While technikon education will give you immediate, job-relevant skills, a university education will provide an overview of these skills, but with more emphasis on knowledge work (problem-solving, providing solutions, etc.).

    Does it matter in which faculty an Organisational Psychology department is located?

    Some universities have located their OrganisationalPsychology departments in Schools of Psychology in Humanities or Social ScienceFaculties. At UCT we are located in the faculty that deals with the world of work, namely the Commerce Faculty. The quality of the content of the OrganisationalPsychology course (an integrated, in-depth offering of human behaviour in the workplace) is much more important than its location within a university structure.

    Is this really a good study direction for finding a job?

    In South Africa, we are experiencing a general skills shortage and working in the area of workplace skills and people management is excellent preparation for the job market. As the area of OrganisationalPsychology is so varied, specialisation in a people, process or organisationally focused area provides even more job opportunities.

    I see that the BBusSc is a four-year degree. As a BusinessScience student, do I automatically qualify for the BBusSc Honours year when I have completed the third year?

    Completing the third year of your BBusSc degree does not qualify you automatically for the Honours year. Entry into the Honours year is subject to an independent selection process.

    So what happens if I am not selected into the Honours year?

    Students who do not qualify for admission to the Honours year will be required to register for courses selected in consultation with the head of the Organisational Psychology Section. Successful completion of these courses will lead to the award of the BBusSc degree.

    Visit the Organisational Psychology Website.

  • Statistical Sciences

    Statistical Sciences (BCom and BBusSc)

    The Statistical Sciences help people working in all areas of human endeavour to make sensible decisions.

    The Statistical Sciences are underpinned by Mathematics and especially Probability Theory, the branch of Mathematics that quantifies uncertainty.

    Uncertainty is the very thing that makes it difficult for us to take decisions! In business, some of the areas in which the Statistical Sciences make a key contribution have special names of their own. Operations Research and Management Science provide guidance on decisions of how to maximise profits with limited resources; Quality Management considers how to minimise losses due to flaws in products, from the design stage to production; Market Research helps assess the performance of existing and potential products in the marketplace; Econometrics helps to provide a theoretical understanding of the quantitative interrelationships in the economy; Financial Statistics helps, for example, investment analysts to decide what shares to buy for their clients; Production Management enables a manufacturing process to be organised to optimise the utilisation of people and machines; and Actuarial Science considers, amongst other aspects, concepts of risk in insurance.

    An education in the Statistical Sciences provides an excellent platform to launch a career in business. The additional leverage that you get from such an education is the ability to take business decisions on an objective numerate basis, making use of all the available quantitative and probabilistic information.

    The skills learnt during education in the UCT Department of Statistical Sciences are immediately applicable. It has been our experience that our students find it relatively easy to obtain jobs immediately after graduation, and that they are promoted rapidly into management positions. There is a worldwide shortage of statisticians, and the training received at UCT has universal application.

    The statistics courses given by the UCT Department of Statistical Sciences to students from the Faculty of Commerce provide a blend of theory and applications of that theory to real-world problems in business. Computational aspects are stressed and there are opportunities to acquire skills in the use of statistical data analysis packages. The department aims to develop top-quality professionals in the various branches of the Statistical Sciences but also to ensure that graduates in other disciplines acquire the necessary quantitative and decision-making skills.

    Visit the Statistical Science's Website.

 

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