The Honours degree is a one-year course that usually follows after the three-year BSc or BComm degree. It is intended as a preparation for a Master’s degree, but it also carries some weight in industry: many employers insist on a four-year degree.
Students are expected to follow six courses chosen from twelve alternatives. Each course comprises about 15 weeks of lectures and one final exam week. Six of the available courses are presented in the first half of the year, the other six in the second half, and their start coincides with the beginning of the university’s undergraduate first and second semesters.
An important aspect of the Honours degree is project work. At the start of the year students must choose a project from a list proposed by our staff. (Students are also allowed to suggest their own projects, but these must be approved by the department.) The purpose of the project is to demonstrate that you can work independently on a large-scale software construction or research problem. At the end of the year students make a presentation to the rest of the class and the department.
The Honours degree is challenging and hard work. However, we pride ourselves on the fact that our graduates are highly sought after. The degree can have a significant impact on your salary and many companies insist on a four-year degree.
There are two important steps:
The closing date for applications is around 15 January (but please check the Science Faculty site for the specific date).
IMPORTANT: In 2009 and 2010 we administered a test to Honours students on the first day. It covered the basic background we expect Honours students to have before they start the course. Soon we shall publish an official exam that applicants will be required to pass, but for now, please have a look at the 2009 and 2010 tests to get an idea of what level of knowledge we expect. Also bear in mind that this is an on-the-spot test, so students are not allowed to consult textbooks or the internet.
The university allows students to enter as part-time students. The degree then extends over two years. Generally speaking, this is a much harder alternative and requires self-discipline and dedication, but in our experience students with jobs tend to be more focused and consequently more successful.
We also welcome applications from foreign students. In addition to the two steps mentioned above, you should also contact the university’s International Office for administrative details about studying at Stellenbosch.
Computer Science does not offer any direct support for students, but the university as a whole does, and of course there are many external bursaries available. The university’s portal for prospective students is a good source of information about such bursaries and up-to-date details about tuition fees. (International students should also have a look at the “Prospective students” section of the International Office website.)
Most of our undergraduate courses require teaching assistants and, while it will not provide enough income to support your studies, these positions can provide some supplemental income. But more than this: becoming a teaching assistant is not only a wonderful way to help the next generation of Computer Science students with their studies, but also a great opportunity to consolidate your own knowledge!