In the Faculty of Humanities, students are encouraged to understand and explain human experiences in its totality.  Can you imagine the diversity and complexity of people’s experiences in our local and global worlds today, and how poor understanding of the experiences of people can lead to disastrous consequences?  When you become part of the Faculty of Humanities at the North-West University, you will join a group of bold students and staff who study and work towards solutions for the most important issues of the day like:

  • How can better public policy help manage the delivery of services in South Africa – social grants, water, electricity or other services that people expect from government?
  • Does social media cause people to write poorly or make us stupid enough to fall for fake news?
  • How does being a multilingual society unite or divide South Africa? Or is it enough if we all learn to use English very well in addition to our home languages?
  • How does the increased mobility of people in the world and in South Africa change social structures?
  • Should South Africans think differently to make ethical decisions?
  • Does music increase our well-being?

Are you brave enough to think really hard about these complex issues so that you can help to improve peoples’ lives and experiences?  Then the Faculty of Humanities is your home! 

Fields of study



  • History of art
  • Communication
  • Graphic Design
  • Journalism and media studies
  • Advanced Corporate Communication
  • Development Communication



  • Public Administration
  • Political Studies and International Relations

Government Studies


  • Academic Literacy
  • African Languages
  • Afrikaans and Dutch
  • Creative Writing
  • English, French, German
  • Language Practice
  • Sesotho, Setswana
  • South African Sign Language



  • Music



  • Philosophy and Ethics



  • Development Studies
  • History
  • Population Studies and Demography
  • Social Anthropology
  • Sociology

Social Sciences

Research and Innovation


ATKV School of Creative Writing

The School offers a variety of short writing courses to anyone wanting to take up creative writing or aiming to improve his or her creative writing skills.

Centre for Text Technology (CTexT)

The Centre for Text Technology (CTexT) is a research and development centre at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. CTexT does research on human language technology and develops language technology products for the South African languages.

Centre for Translation and Professional Language Services (CTrans)

Professional language practitioners and an exciting range of future prospects – CTrans has it all. We solve your language-related problems expeditiously and adroitly. Not sure what those terms mean? Don’t worry, we can help.

Indigenous Language Media in Africa

The entity Indigenous Language Media in Africa is a research niche area of the North-West University, South Africa. It is the only one of its kind on the continent of Africa. It focuses on issues of African languages in the media, the contrast between public and private financing of the media, the media and identity, the media and politics, the internet, media and democracy, media and development as well as African traditional communication/media systems and their applications.

Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications

The NWU is the only university in South Africa that conducts focused research about and on music. The research niche, MASARA, is also unique because researchers who specialise in diverse music disciplines such as musicology, ethnomusicology, music education, religious music, composition and performance are working together symbiotically within the collective focus area of music and wellbeing. The research that results from this combined focus contributes to the enhancement of various contexts, such as music teaching and learning, music in everyday life, music in communities, as well as music in religious contexts.

Optentia Research Unit

The mission of the Optentia Research Focus Area is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with specific interest in the African context. 

Population and Health

The mission of the Population and Health Research Focus Area (RFA) is to train world-class social scientists (population experts, development experts, psychologists, social workers, and sociologists under the broad umbrella of population and health) and to produce high quality research, relevant to South Africa’s socio-economic and cultural development in particular and that of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.

Social Transformation

This Focus Area specialises in the creation, development, management and evaluation of the transformational and social development roles and responsibilities of government, the business sector and communities in developing societies, thereby contributing significantly towards social transformation within these societies. 

Understanding and Processing Language in Complex Settings (UPSET)

Understanding and Processing Language in Complex Settings, or UPSET in short, is a research focus area at the Vanderbijlpark Campus of the North-West University that investigates how humans use language in the complex, multilingual setting of South Africa.

Languages and Literature in the South African Context

Our core competencies lie in the fields of Descriptive Linguistics and Phonology (in particular Socio-phonetics), Language Testing (in particular the assessment of Academic Literacy), the teaching and learning of Academic Literacy, Literary Criticism and various fields related to Language Technology, where CTexT continues to perform a significant developmental role. 

Visual Narratives and Creative Outputs through Interdisciplinary and Practice-Led Research (VINCO)

The research niche area for the visual arts came into being officially in January 2014 to fill the gap in terms of the need to investigate the unique research and creative outputs within the subject groups art history, graphic design and creative writing.