Contemporary South Africa

Nelson Mandela University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Contemporary South Africa

  • Host University

    Nelson Mandela University

  • Location

    Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  • Area of Study

    African Studies, Government, History, Human Rights, International Studies, Political Science, Social Policy

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • US Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    This course will focus on contemporary, post-apartheid South Africa. The students will explore South Africa’s history in order to understand the issues that led to apartheid and subsequently to the toppling of the apartheid regime in 1994. Through lectures, dialogues, readings, documentaries and excursions, the students will have a chance to learn about human rights violations during apartheid, the roots of racialized poverty and inequality and the negotiated transition from apartheid to democracy. Furthermore, a large part of the course will focus on the successes, failures and challenges of the post-apartheid period, including reconciliation, education, inequality and economic transformation, xenophobia, and many other important topics. After completing this course, the students are expected to have a good understanding of the contemporary South African socioeconomic and political realities.

    The programme will expose students to the debates pertaining to contemporary South Africa. Lectures are facilitated by Nelson Mandela University academics. The programme consists of theoretical and practical aspects that are interactive. Thorough lecture preparation and active participation will ensure an optimum learning experience.


    On completion of this programme students will obtain:

    • An understanding that human rights practices and institutions are the result of historical processes of social transformation;
    • A critical insight into the theoretical grounding of human rights and the human rights discourse in the 20th century;
    • An critical understanding of how the theoretical underpinnings of human rights translate into practice;
    • The ability to identify and critically analyse key human right issues and debates and clarify fundamental human rights debates through critical thinking and reasoning;
    • The ability to contribute to the development of a human rights culture and make justifiable decisions in ambiguous situations.


    There are two assessments: portfolio and presentation. The final mark for the module will be determined as follows: 

    • 60% of the final mark will come from the portfolio;
    • 30% of the final mark will come from the presentation;
    • 10% will be awarded for attendance of lectures and participation in discussions.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.