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Head of Department: Professor Robert Schrire

Departmental Profile

The Department of Political Studies is home to internationally recognised scholars in comparative politics, international relations, political theory, political behaviour, intellectual history, public policy, and public administration. It covers a wide range of research and publications with particular focus on such areas as South African politics and policy analysis, civil-military relations, democratization in Africa, political culture, comparative politics, intellectual history, international relations and local government. Our staff have published widely, both in scholarly and research journals and in more popular publications, on aspects of the South African transition from apartheid to democracy. This continues to be a major research interest, with special attention to problems of the consolidation of democracy, the role of the armed forces in democratization and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They have also made practical contributions to the policies and politics of our new democracy.

The department is home to one of the faculty’s bigger postgraduate programmes and boasts a lively and cosmopolitan postgraduate student community.  Our postgraduate programmes provide students with a firm academic foundation in political theory; comparative politics; international relations; South African politics; public administration; and public policy, amongst others. Students are encouraged to pursue more specialised study under close supervision and faculty guidance.

A major new trend is a greater interest in quantitative surveys and public opinion research in the context of a close association with the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) and its Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU) in particular. In general there is an increasing emphasis on establishing a productive synergy between research and postgraduate programmes. Special priority has been given to developing a sequence of research methodology courses as a mainstay of the curriculum at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Based on expertise developed in research, members of the Department have made contributions to policy research and development especially in the areas of defence, development, local government, mediation, policing, voting and HIV/AIDS in prisons.


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