The Department of Political Science is a dynamic, research-driven unit with a focus on the political challenges which South Africa and the broader African continent must face in a globalising world. Through comprehensive research programmes, the department has developed expertise in a wide spectrum of international, African and domestic politics. Pressing issues such as poverty, development, globalisation and inequality are addressed at the under- and postgraduate levels. The department provides high-level theoretical and analytical training in a variety of subfields of Political Science, with particular focus on political risk analysis, public policy analysis, political behaviour and survey research, foreign policy analysis, global governance, and conflict and peace studies in Africa. Experts from practice and international universities are frequently involved in the presentation of modules.

 Prof Scarlett Cornelissen took part in a Workshop organised by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies in Milan


Pathways to Recovery in Post-Pandemic Asia


 Eulogy: Professor Ian Taylor, University of St. Andrews and Extraordinary Professor, University of Stellenbosch


Our Department heard with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that Professor Ian Taylor passed away on 22 February 2021. Ian had long and deep roots with our Department. Not only did he receive his PhD from Stellenbosch, but he has also been an Extraordinary Professor in the Department since 2012.


He became interested in China-Africa relations years before it became vogue and already worked on these issues in his MA thesis, whilst he and Jo were studying in Hong Kong. However, his exceptional ability to contextualize Africa’s position in the global political economy and his empirically sound, yet critical approach made him a popular and sought after lecturer, especially amongst our post-graduate students.


Ian and I became friends in the late 1990s when we shared an office in the Arts and Social Sciences building as PhD students. Prof Scarlett Cornelissen recalls that Ian also enrolled for a short course to acquire a working knowledge of Afrikaans and then used the phrase ‘dis nogal ’n pluimpie!’ Even years after Ian and Jo moved to Scotland, he would still order meals here in Stellenbosch in Afrikaans.


Ian was a prolific writer, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of various countries, notably in Africa based on the incredible number of countries he and Jo visited and to which they subsequently introduced Archie and Blythe to. During their visit to Stellenbosch in 2019, I was, as always, regaled with amazing stories of their recent visit to North Korea. It was impossible to get Ian to walk past a bookshop and it remains a mystery how he got the airlines to take his bags.


As recently as November 2020, Ian expressed the wish to come and teach at Stellenbosch again once he had completed treatment and even asked that we keep him in mind as an external examiner!


Ian, we will miss you.


Janis van der Westhuizen
Head of Department

The Department in the Media

In order to determine if alcohol plays a role in crime spikes, it needs to be determined where violent crime is concentrated, as well as consider other possible factors that my have contributed to such variations in crime in these precincts, writes Guy Lamb


In July 2020, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele released the quarterly crime statistics for the period 1 April – 30 June 2020 which corresponded with much of the “hard” Covid-19 lockdown phase in South Africa.

The shooting of alleged Durban drug lord Yaganathan “Teddy Mafia” Pillay led to an unimaginably barbaric scene when gangsterism and mob justice collided in a community beset by poverty and drug addiction. The people of Shallcross have been caught in a violent drug turf war that’s claimed seven lives in drive-by shootings in just 13 months. In a community where drug lords are said to enjoy the protection of the community and alleged crooked cops, Carte Blanche explores the driving forces that ended in blood on the streets as police appeared ineffective.

Given government’s slow response to rolling out a Covid vaccine response, it appears that 2021 will be similar to 2020, with police officials having to continue to enforce various forms of lockdown regulations in response to successive waves of heightened Covid-19 infections, writes Guy Lamb.

Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear’s murder has re-emphasised the problem of SAPS corruption, especially in realation to firearms. writes Guy Lamb.

International oil and gas companies face increased political risk because of cyber-attacks and they will need to change the way they approach risk management to minimize the impact of cyber-threats.

The political elite are happy to access power through democratic elections, but are averse to institutional checks once in power.

As Covid-19 continues to reshape our world, including global political and economic dynamics, what tensions and contradictions are likely to appear over the next five to 10 years at the national level in South Africa?

According to the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by ShanghaiRanking, the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University is the top ranked in South Africa.