QS rankings place four UCT subjects in the top 100

12 April 2024 | Story Staff writer. Photo Robyn Walker. Read time 3 min.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is ranked 15th in the world for Development Studies and is among the top 100 institutions for a further three subjects. This is according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2024, released on 10 April.

Of the five broad subject areas into which QS divides individual subjects (Arts and Humanities; Engineering and Technology; Life Sciences and Medicine; Natural Sciences; and Social Sciences and Management), UCT ranked best in Life Sciences and Medicine, coming in at 117. This subject area includes Medicine, Biological Sciences, Psychology, Agriculture and other fields.


“UCT’s Vision 2030 commits our research endeavour to play a leading role in creating knowledge on the continent.”

Within these subject areas, UCT was ranked 31 of the 48 subjects assessed by QS.

UCT subjects ranked in the Top 100:

Development Studies: 15

Anthropology: 51–100

Geography: 51100

Medicine: 89

UCT subjects ranked in the Top 150

These include Agriculture, Architecture/Built Environment, Earth and Marine Sciences, English, Environmental Sciences, Geology, and Geophysics.  

“The University of Cape Town is committed to ensuring that our research continues to play a leading role in creating knowledge on the continent and that African knowledge is seen and heard in the global knowledge project,” said Professor Jeff Murugan, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation.

While we measure that impact in numerous ways, rankings are one method of benchmarking ourselves and identifying where our strengths are recognised.

“It is significant that we have scored very highly on the metric for international collaborations in our two highest-ranked subject areas – Development Studies and Medicine (see below). Particularly as we are dedicated not only to strengthening the breadth and depth of partnerships in the continent and the rest of the world but also in advocating for such partnerships to be truly equitable.”

The QS methodology calculates scores based on the variably weighted indicators of academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper, H-index, and the International Research Network (IRN).

Academic reputation draws on the insights of international academics to identify institutions that exemplify academic excellence. Their collective expertise sheds light on research quality, strategic partnerships, innovation, and the broader educational and societal influence of these universities.

The H-index quantifies a researcher's scholarly output and influence by tallying their most-cited works and the corresponding citation count. The IRN reflects the diversity and scope of an institution's research connections and the effectiveness of establishing these global networks.

In the assessment of all subject areas, the research connections and collaborations (IRN) are weighted between 5% and 10% of the overall institutional score. 

In UCTs highest-ranked subjects, the IRN scores were particularly high: Development Studies scored 85,8/100 for IRN and Medicine scored 87,6/100 for IRN. UCTs strong performance in these subjects is a good indicator of the importance of worldwide collaborations in building the universitys success.

View the complete Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2024.

Read more about the ranking’s methodology.

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