About Political Sciences
Politics is an inescapable part of human existence and social interaction invariably involves political relationships. Politics is also extremely important to the creation of a just and humane life. The area that is subject to politics covers a vast terrain and not only includes any aspect of contemporary society that directly or indirectly affects the state, but also those aspects of life that have public significance.
Politics is not limited to the state but extends beyond national boundaries into adjacent regions and the world. In a globalising world these international political relations are not limited to interstate or government interactions and membership of international organisations, but include links with and the activities of non-state actors. Furthermore, they include political and military matters, as well as non-political affairs with political implications. The area subject to international studies thus covers a vast terrain involving peace, security, development and justice.
Why study politics?
The study of politics establishes knowledge and provides an understanding of politics within state borders and beyond. It develops the knowledge and skills necessary to analyse, compare and explain political events at a global, regional, national and local level, the impact thereof on society, and the changes to which it is subjected. People, however, differ greatly in their understanding of politics. This diversity is acknowledged by incorporating a variety of non-political or related influences that impact on politics.
Essentially the study of politics provides a description of political facts, an explanation of how and why politics occurs, and a prescription of what should happen in the political world. It also advances democratic values and norms that apply locally and internationally, thereby contributing to your education as a citizen of your country and of the world.
The study of politics will enable you to respond innovatively and proactively to the problems and challenges of the political environment, those of Africa and South Africa in particular. Studying politics will provide you with training for career opportunities in politics in general, political reporting for the printed press, radio and television, research for academic institutions, NGOs, and political parties. It will also prepare you for a career in the diplomatic service, international offices of government departments such as Trade and Industry, the security community such as the SANDF and the National Intelligence Agency, or with international and regional organisations such as the UN (as well as UN agencies such as UNESCO) and the European Union, or international non-governmental organisations such as the World Economic Forum. A degree in politics will also prepare you for a career in political consultation for both local and international firms such as Anglo American.
The Department of Political Sciences
The Department of Political Sciences in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria presents degree packages and modules in International Relations and Political Science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, up to doctoral level. The Department also presents degree packages in, and forms part of, the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
Political science was introduced at the University of Pretoria in 1912 (in combination with other subjects) and became a separate major in 1922. The Department became independent in 1966. International politics (renamed International relations in 2001) was introduced as a two-year major in 1969 and as a three-year major in 1997. In 2000, the Department introduced new degree programmes and a modular system.
The Department has had close links with the Institute for Strategic Studies (ISSUP), which was established in 1974, and the Centre for International Political Studies (CIPS), which was established in 1999, with staff members actively involved in the research activities of these institutions. In early 2010, the two research institutes amalgamated to form the Institute for Strategic and Political Affairs (ISPA).
The Department of Political Sciences, which comprises experienced full- and part-time staff, has been led by Professor Maxi Schoeman since November 2000.