All the best subjects to study at South Africa’s top universities

The latest QS World University Rankings has listed all the subjects that South Africa’s top universities excel at – ranking among the top 500 courses in the world.

The report covers 42 subjects in arts and humanities; engineering and technology; life sciences and medicine; natural sciences; and social sciences.

South African universities stand out for their expertise in development studies, QS said, while South Africa’s top-ranked university – the University of Cape Town – ranked within the top 100 globally for 10 subjects.

These include Anatomy and physiology, English language and literature, Law and Education, among others.

UCT has 36 subjects ranked among the top 500 global universities, followed by Wits with 23 subjects, Stellenbosch University with 17 subjects, and University of Pretoria with 15 subjects.

The University of Kwazulu-Natal, University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University also had a few (under 10) subjects ranked in the top 500. With the exception of the University of Pretoria, all SA universities are strongest in developmental studies.

UP’s strongest subjects are agriculture and forestry and law – though neither of these subjects are among the top 100 universities in the world.

The following tables break down the best subjects at each South African university ranked by QS, along with where the universities placed among the global top 500. Subjects in the top 100, globally, have been highlighted.


University of Cape Town

University of Cape Town

Subject Global ranking
Developmental studies 10
Geography 47
Anatomy and physiology 51-100
Anthropology 51-100
Archaeology 51-100
Architecture 51-100
Education 51-100
English language and literature 51-100
Law 51-100
Sport-relates subjects 51-100
Agriculture and forestry 101-150
Earth and marine sciences 101-150
Environmental sciences 101-150
History 101-150
Medicine 101-150
Politics and International studies 101-150
Sociology 101-150
Art and design 151-200
Civil and structural engineering 151-200
Communication and media studies 151-200
Pharmacy and Pharmacology 151-200
Psychology 151-200
Biological sciences 201-250
Business and management studies 201-250
Linguistics 201-250
Physics and astronomy 201-250
Chemical engineering 251-300
Economics and econometrics 251-300
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing engineering 251-300
Modern languages 251-300
Electrical engineering 301-350
Mathematics 301-350
Chemistry 351-400
Computer science 351-400

University of the Witwatersrand

Wits

Subject Global ranking
Developmental studies 18
Anthropology 51-100
Archaeology 51-100
English language and literature 101-150
Geography 101-150
Law 101-150
Politics and International studies 101-150
Communication and media studies 151-200
Earth and marine sciences 151-200
History 151-200
Medicine 151-200
Agriculture and forestry 201-250
Education 201-250
Pharmacy and Pharmacology 201-250
Sociology 201-250
Business and management studies 251-300
Chemical engineering 251-300
Psychology 251-300
Biological sciences 351-400
Economics and econometrics 351-400
Mathematics 351-400
Physics and astronomy 351-400
Chemistry 401-450

Stellenbosch University

Subject Global ranking
Developmental studies 42
Agriculture and forestry 51-100
Geography 151-200
Law 151-200
Politics and International studies 151-200
Education 201-250
English language and literature 201-250
Biological sciences 251-300
Business and management studies 251-300
Environmental sciences 251-300
Linguistics 251-300
Pharmacy and Pharmacology 251-300
Psychology 251-300
Economics and econometrics 301-350
Medicine 301-350
Chemistry 351-400
Physics and astronomy 451-500

University of Pretoria

Subject Global ranking
Agriculture and forestry 101-150
Law 101-150
Accounting and finance 151-200
Archaeology 151-200
Architecture 151-200
Education 201-250
Chemical engineering 251-300
Economics and econometrics 251-300
English language and literature 251-300
Sociology 251-300
Biological sciences 301-350
Electrical engineering 301-350
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing engineering 301-350
Medicine 301-350
Computer science 401-450

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Subject Global ranking
Developmental studies 51-100
Agriculture and forestry 151-200
Education 251-300
Medicine 301-350
Biological sciences 401-450
Chemistry 401-450

University of Johannesburg

Subject Global ranking
Developmental studies 51-100
Geography 151-200
Law 201-250
Education 251-300

Rhodes University

Subject Global ranking
Communication and media studies 151-200
English language and literature 201-250

The QS subject rankings are based on a mix of survey responses and hard data, compiled and weighted to formulate a final score.

This includes academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper, the h-index (an index that measures both the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar) as well as insight from discipline-level experts and specialists.


Read: Curro to list private university business in 2017

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All the best subjects to study at South Africa’s top universities