Humanities is regarded as one of the oldest academic disciplines in the higher-education sector. As it includes academic fields of enquiry that focus on understanding, interpreting, communicating and producing knowledge about human experience and interaction, the field of humanities remains essential to both the higher-education sector and the corporate world.

The Faculty of Humanities at the North-West University offers students a powerful currency in today's rapidly changing world, as we provide students with critical and intellectual skills to understand and explain human experience in a personal, cultural and social context.
In acknowledging the impact of technology on all aspects of society, our programmes foster intersection between humanities and technology in understanding, addressing and mitigating the local and global challenges facing humanity.

We pride ourselves on offering engaged research, and ethical teaching and learning for all students, affirming our African identity in pursuit of excellence in scholarship as well as social responsibility.

Fields of study

Research and Innovation

Afrocentric Governance of Public Affairs (AGoPA)

The entity AGoPA seeks to improve the knowledge of the governance of public affairs using developing an Afrocentric knowledge about the quality of governance of public affairs, specifically in the fields of organisational, administrative, and political science.

Indigenous Language Media in Africa 

This research niche area (ILMA) 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 (MASARA)

MASARA conducts research in music within various subfields, including Music Education, Music Theory and Analysis, Musicology (including African music), Community Music and Practice-Based Research. The central theme of our research is Music and Wellbeing. Our members also produce creative outputs in the form of music performances and compositions. The entity offers various master’s and doctoral degrees that are either research-based or integrates research and music performance or composition.

Optentia Research Unit

This research focus area is a highly diverse entity in the faculty. Its objective is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with a specific interest in the African context.

Population and Health 

This research focus area trains world-class social scientists to produce high-quality research that is 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 transformational and social development roles and responsibilities of the government, the business sector and communities in developing societies. The aim is to contribute to the improvement of a sustainable quality of life and transformation in South Africa and other African countries.

Understanding and Processing Language in Complex Settings (UPSET)

Understanding and Processing Language in Complex Settings, or UPSET for short, is a research focus area that investigates how humans use language in the complex and multilingual setting of South Africa. UPSET supports several staff members in the School of Languages in pursuing their research interests in three subprogrammes, namely descriptive linguistics, applied language studies and language practice. UPSET further provides support for the master’s-degree and doctoral studies that are supervised by supervisors/promoters affiliated with the research entity.

Languages and Literature in the South African Context

The language diversity of South Africa provides a rich backdrop to the research focus of this unit, which comprises four primary areas of expertise: literature, descriptive linguistics, applied linguistics, and language technology. The research unit is primarily involved in supporting postgraduate studies at MA and PhD level, but also supports staff members in the School of Languages with their research projects.

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

The research niche ViNCO contributes to the current discourse on South African and African visual narratives and the histories and visions that shape them.


NWU Writing Centre

This centre is dedicated to the improvement of students’ academic writing by assisting them in planning and structuring their written assignments. 

Centre for Text Technology (CTexT)

CTexT is a research and development centre that focuses their research on human language technology and develops language technology products for the South African languages.

Creativity Centre

The NWU Creativity Centre presents after-hours short courses at the Potchefstroom Campus in various creative categories including Drawing, Graphic & Web Design, Digital Photography, Adobe software and Drama, Sound & Film.