Countdown to UCT Summer School 2015

15 January 2015 | Story by Newsroom

If you had attended one of the first UCT Summer Schools, in 1953, you would have been one of 120 adult education students, with a choice of seven courses. Over half a century later the annual Summer School, organised by UCT's Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, is still going strong. Today, however, the programme offers over 60 courses to 3000 students.

"The two-week programme is the only one of its kind in Africa," explains Medee Rall, Director for UCT's Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, "It aims to encourage people from all walks of life to explore new disciplines and ideas."

This year's selection of courses encompasses such diverse fields as medicine, music, law, literature and language study.

Discover a local literary titan

Professor Shaun Viljoen, Chair of the English Department at Stellenbosch University, will be presenting a course on local writer Richard Rive. "Rive is fascinating, and the course will examine him both as a man and as a writer," explains Viljoen. "As a man he was a very charismatic character, full of bombast, rife with contradictions. As a writer, Rive and his contemporaries worked during a time of strain and struggle about what it means to be a human being. I think their response of non-racialism holds great importance for us today. I believe Rive himself deserves greater exposure." The two-lecture course will delve into how Rive is remembered today and will also examine possible re-readings of his work.

Trace pop music's debt to Africa

This is your chance to hone your songwriting skills in the company of successful musician Josh Hawks, one of the co-founders of band Freshlyground and member of the band Amapondo. The course will take the format of interactive lecture-workshops with titles like "The basic structure of a song" and "The universal chord pattern and the universal rhythm pattern". While Hawks acknowledges the almost magical role that creativity has to play in songwriting he also points out that this course gets pragmatic with some info on the business side of songwriting, as well as a look at the development of pop music and its debt to African slaves.

More information on Slaves to the Rhythm: Writing Songs

Get serious about children's health care

There are only 22 beds available in the intensive care unit of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. Every day doctors and nurses must make decisions about who gets access to this specialised care. How are these decisions made? What are the ethical concerns around gaining informed consent from the parents of critically ill children? How has paediatric intensive care evolved, both here and elsewhere in the world? These questions will b examined over the course of three lectures by Professor Andrew Argent, current Medical Director of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Children's Hospital and UCT Associate Professor Brenda Morrow, head of the African Paediatric Fellowship Programme (APFP) Child Health and Rehabilitation.

More information on Paediatric Critical Care

Language skills

According to Professor Wilhelm Snyman, who will be teaching the Italian for beginners language course, after three weeks of intensive study you will not only have some vocabulary but more importantly you will have a basic understanding of Italian grammar, allowing you to continue your studies independently. In his words: "You will have the skeleton of the language. From there you will have won your independence to be able to continue fleshing out your knowledge of this beautiful language."

Mandarin Chinese on the other hand, according to lecturer Nicole Franco is an amazingly simple language grammatically. "Unlike in English, there are few changes for tenses, first/third person and singular/plural. Its vocabulary is also relatively small. Once you get used to its sounds and tones, your language learning really takes off and you will find yourself speaking much sooner than you ever thought you would!"

More information on Mandarin for Beginners

More information on Italian for Beginners

Rethinking SA labour relations

What are the implications of the labour relations turbulence for the economy? Does labour relations instability pose a threat to the stability of the country's fledgling democracy? Has the time arrived for the country to rethink, or revamp, the labour relations dispensation put in place by the Mandela government during the first few years of post-apartheid South Africa? It is these three questions of deep importance to South Africa today which Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UCT and author of the 2010 book Trade Unions and Party Politics: Labour Movements in Africa, will examine over three lectures.

More information Labour Relations in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Dilemmas and Opportunities

Information on courses and registration for Summer School 2015 can be found at, by emailing or by phoning 021 650 2888.

Summer School partners with Fine Music Radio
As part of the Fine Minds programme, a partnership between Fine Music radio and UCT's Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, five hour-long lecturers will be broadcast over the next three years featuring such luminaries as Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, Colin Bundy, Emeritus Professor David Wolfe, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ian Aaronson, Professor Bill Nasson and William Kentridge. Find out more.

Story by Ambre Nicolson

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