The Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University has among the most productive academic psychologists in South Africa on its staff, several of whom have won prestigious awards and grants for their teaching and research. We are committed to conducting research, teaching, practice, and community service of the highest possible standard. As such, we continually measure our scholarly output against the best in the world. Our staff and students have published in the highest-ranking international academic journals and several former students have taken up positions in prestigious institutions in South Africa and around the world. Our department offers undergraduate modules in psychology, leading to a major in the discipline, and postgraduate training leading to registration as a psychologist. We also offer thesis-based research training leading towards the masters and doctoral degree. Our teaching and research programmes focus on key psychosocial issues affecting South Africa and the African continent. We are committed to contributing to the social relevance of psychology as a discipline and a profession in an academically rigorous and critical manner.

As a department we have established ourselves as having expertise in the following areas:

  • Human Development (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, aging)

  • Clinical Psychology (including assessment and psychotherapy)
  • Community/Social Psychology
  • Critical Psychology
  • Public Mental Health

A teaching department

The psychology department is the biggest department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in terms of student numbers. We currently have 1200 first year students, 800 2nd-years students, 600 third year students, 37 honours students (that is obviously when selection starts), 8 clinical masters students, 40 research masters students and 40 doctoral students.

Our academic staff is committed to teaching: we prioritise the processes of learning, discovery, questioning and critique and enjoy embarking on these processes with our students. We pride ourselves on the fact that we keep our undergraduate and graduate modules relevant and up to date in terms of content and teaching/learning strategies.

The undergraduate courses offered by the department prepare students for entry into both clinical- and research-based postgraduate programmes. The undergraduate and graduate psychology degrees from our Department are internationally recognized, and many of the department’s graduates have gone on to postgraduate studies in other universities in South Africa and around the world.

The Department offers psychology courses to not only to students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, but also to students from other faculties. Students from faculties other than the Faculty of Humanities are advised to enquire from their home faculties how courses from the department of Psychology can contribute towards their degrees.

A research department

Our growth as a research department has been substantial and we have become a world-renowned and internationally acclaimed research department. Many staff members are part of local, national and global research networks. The Department participates in research with a number of partners in both the global north and in the global south, as well as with international agencies such as the World Health Organization.

Our postgraduate research programmes are large and our staff are sought after as supervisors for masters theses and doctoral dissertations. If research output is a marker of academic excellence, we can pride ourselves with the substantial research output of the Department, especially with regards to publications in accredited journals.

Many members of staff are award-winning and rated researchers. However, this is a Department not only committed to academic excellence, but also to academic integrity. The focus is not on the answers that we can give but on the questions that we will continue to ask in different ways. In the Department therefore there also is a focus on a diversity of outputs and depth of outputs. Two members of the Department have published novels and several staff members are focused on producing research outputs that are more accessible to the general public and policy-makers. As a Department we are committed to producing research and writing that have an impact on people and policy and thus can lead to social change.

A department committed to community service and social change

Applied psychology has been a focus of the Psychology Department since the establishment of the Masters degrees in Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology in 1973. These prorammes were merged into one Masters programme in 2005. In the Masters Programme in Clinical Psychology between eight and ten students are annually trained as clinical psychologists and are able to register with the HPCSA as clinical psychologists in training.

In 2001 a community clinic was established on the 2nd floor of the Wilcocks, a clinic that aimed to serve children, adults and families from the wider Stellenbosch community. Currently this clinic is called Welgevallen Community Clinic and is housed, with the clinical programme, on the university farm, Welgevallen.

Apart from its clinic, the Department also has many established and on-going community projects. These include the Stellenbosch Usiko Youth Project, the Career Guidance Project, the Women’s Mental Health Research Project, the Watergarden, the Babin pre-school project …