Subject groups

Public Admin

Students will experience Public Administration as a subject offering the foremost theory, teaching, skills and practices relevant to the contemporary South African state and the global public sector arena. Students will be exposed to comprehensive academic literature and theories pertaining to Public Administration, equipping them with sound academic and scientific knowledge to conduct analytical and relevant research and to find solutions to practice-based challenges with theory-driven arguments. With a focus on the functioning of the public sector, Public Administration students will acquire knowledge on public service delivery, relevant legislation, the role and responsibilities of public service managers, and the diverse and dynamic environment in which public service officials function.

A high priority is placed on preparing students to take leadership roles in their communities and make significant contributions in an ever-changing world, particularly in a democratic, developing South Africa. Healthy academic and social discourse is encouraged, as is the ability to use enquiry and innovation to assist and guide the transformation of public sector organisations in order to improve infrastructures and services within a democratic, developmental, accountable and responsive public sector environment.

Students in Public Administration will be primed to make use of alternative approaches to complex socio-economic phenomena and to offer value-driven, logical arguments for judgements, underpinned by theoretical and legislative frameworks. Furthermore, students will be encouraged and guided to engage in societal issues, in consideration of their social, civic and developmental responsibilities and with a commitment to social justice, democracy, human rights and socio-economic development. They also have to communicate this engagement by means of appropriate formats within an ethical context that respects and upholds the rights of individuals, groups, and communities. 

In its broadest sense, Public Administration entails the study of the way in which theory, research-led enquiry and practice combine to satisfy the most important needs of a country's citizens. More specifically, Public Administration studies the following matters scientifically:

  • Academic literature, theories and legislation pertaining to Public Administration and the application thereof in the public sector, specifically in the democratic developmental context
  • Qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method research methods to effectively communicate in an acceptable academic format
  • The role of P(p)public A(a)dministration in observing and evaluating societal and global trends and generating viable solutions for sustained development and informed solutions to socio-economic challenges
  • The locus and focus of P(p)public A(a)dministration in the public sector of a country such as South Africa
  • The way in which the state’s legislative, executive and judicial institutions are constituted and the manner in which they function
  • The nature and scope of public service delivery within the three spheres of government
  • Public management processes and functions, for example, policy-making, planning, organisation, leadership, human resource management and financial management
  • The dynamics, structures and processes in public sector organisations
  • The place and the role of ethics in public processes


Political Studies and International Relations

Political Studies focuses on matters associated with power and authority within the state and government, but also within broader society. As students of politics, we are focused on the games people play to wittingly and unwittingly drive political agendas. As Lasswell famously stated, "politics is about who gets what, when and how". Politics revolves around resource allocation within society and how formal (e.g. policy) and informal habits maintain or transform such resource allocation practices.

International Relations, on the other hand, focuses on relationships between nations, intergovernmental and non-governmental institutions, environmental politics, and security. A student of International Relations will acquire skills in diplomacy, conflict management and a critical analysis of global affairs.  

Political Studies explores a range of current study fields or subdisciplines. These include:

  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Theory
  • Political Philosophy
  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • Inter-governmental and Non-governmental Relations
  • Security Studies
  • Theories of International Relations
  • International Institutions 
  • International Relations with its particular set of subdisciplines
  • Political Economy and regional focuses such as
    • African Politics
    • South African Politics
  • Political Systems

Significance and application

The topics studied in Political Studies undoubtedly shape the societal context of an individual’s way of life.  Life is ultimately no more than a politically driven reality in which people have to negotiate their own path.

Students gain knowledge of and insight into politics – political processes, institutions and consequences for society and the environment.  Students will therefore be better able to understand and address the demands and challenges of their way of life.  This applies equally in their capacity as citizens of the country and in a specific profession, and is accompanied by the necessary realisation that nothing constructive can be achieved in the country concerned, or in world politics, without mobilising people regarding political objectives and policy.

In an increasingly globalising world, International Relations has become a more relevant inter-disciplinary field of study. Issues such as climate change, security (human, food, state, etc.), the global economy, international law, foreign policy and multinational corporations continue to be major concerns in developed and developing states. The complex interdependent nature of the global system calls for academic investigation of 21st-century global politics.