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international programs

Cape Town, South Africa

program description


The City

South Africa is still, in the words of Seamus Heaney, a place where “hope and history rhyme.” Cape Town takes its name from the term “Cape of Good Hope”, rounded for the first time in 1482 by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz. Steeped in a rich history, the city is a cultural melting pot influenced by Xhosa, Zulu, and other African tribes from the north as well as Indonesian, French, Dutch, British, and German settlers. The fast pace and bright lights of the urban center juxtaposed with the pristine coastlines and magnificent countryside creates an exhilarating locale.

The University

Located at the foot of Table Mountain, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is the oldest university in South Africa. Home to over 20,000 students, UCT has 60 departments within six facilities: commerce, engineering & the built environment, law, health sciences, humanities, and sciences. UCT cultivates its commitment to the surrounding communities, striving to improve the quality of life in the Western Cape by shaping teaching, research, and outreach programs that address the social, economic, and political issues of the region. In addition, the university’s sports facilities make it a popular venue for club and league sports, including the famous Two Oceans Marathon.

The Program

UCT enrollment is open to students in the humanities, arts, social sciences, science, and business. Courses of particular interest to international students address local content and focus on the African continent. These courses are grouped according to the following themes: historical perspectives, development and democracy, southern African environments, and cultural Africa.


The orientation offered by UCT begins with a tour of the Cape Peninsula, past Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, to Cape Point and then the penguin colony at Boulders’ Beach. Students also visit Robben Island, and the community service centers in the surrounding townships, where they may volunteer through SHAWCO (UCT’s student-run volunteer organization).


BC students reside in a variety of housing.


Strong on-site support services include a program offered by BC’s Cape Town on-site coordinator, Ida Cooper. This program provides personal and emergency support, special dinners, excursions, and seminars. There are over 50 sport and recreational clubs at UCT, and over 60 cultural, religious, and special interest societies.