In Cape Town, every day will be like a choose-your-own-adventure book, with outdoor activities to enjoy, South African residents to meet, and African cultures to learn.
Service learning in and around Cape Town is a core component in our program. Students taking one of the IES Abroad courses are required to complete 60 hours of volunteer work while in Cape Town. Twenty of your 60 hours of volunteer work will be at Egoli, a settlement that receives no government services like water or electricity. With your help on community-driven projects like providing sustainable and reusable solar reading lamps or creating a shared garden, you (like many IES Abroad students before you) can make a small, but life-changing contribution to the people of Egoli.
Use the remaining 40 hours of volunteer work to participate in field work and research opportunities. UCT students often join SHAWCO, the Unversity's Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation volunteer program, as their organized placements will give you practical exposure to topics you're learning at South Africa's leading research university, the University of Cape Town (UCT). Through these opportunities, you will get a first-hand look at the city's society and issues affecting different groups in Cape Town.
While in South Africa, you’ll complete 15-19 credits. These credits can be all taken through UCT courses or in a combination of 2-4 UCT courses (12 credits) and an IES Abroad course (4 credits). Located in a pleasant suburban area five miles from the City Center, UCT first opened in 1829, as the South African College. UCT is South Africa’s oldest university, and has undergone incredible change since its opening, particularly since the end of the apartheid, working to make quality higher education available to students regardless of race. UCT is officially recognized for its strengths in African Studies, Biology, Botany, Business, Environmental Sciences, History, Mathematics, Engineering, Sociology, and Anthropology. IES Abroad will offer a choice of three courses: Polity, Community Development, Urban Life in South Africa; Eco-Justice in Africa; and Health and Community Development in South Africa.
Cape Town will be your classroom. From visiting local gems like the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens (a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Castle of Good Hope, we challenge you to take full advantage of South Africa’s beautiful climate and geography. We’ll also take you to Kruger National Park for a three-hour game drive with one of Kruger’s experienced game rangers. Hopefully your adventure will include capturing the “Big Five”— lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros--on your camera.
We want you to feel at home in South Africa, so we will do everything we can to help you integrate into life in Cape Town, from service learning to cultural events. Get to know South Africa in a way only IES Abroad can show you.
After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.
IES Abroad students participating in the UCT or UWC first semester program (January-July) must pay special attention to the official end date of the program. IES Abroad students often want to arrange a summer internship or summer school session back in the U.S. and have a conflict when the end date of the IES Abroad program overlaps with the start date of their program back in the U.S.. Please note that early exams cannot be arranged at either UCT or UWC and you should not make arrangements to leave the program prior to the official end of your university exams in Cape Town. Failure to take the final exam will result in a failing grade in the course.
Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. That is why we partnered with the University of Cape Town.
You take 15–19 credit hours per semester. Full year students may elect to take all of their courses at the University of Cape Town in their second semester.
IES Abroad also offers service learning courses in Environmental Studies, Health Studies, and Management through an in-depth and hands-on approach. While optional, these courses are strongly recommended.
You create your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components:
This is a list of planned IES course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.
About the University of Cape Townwww.uct.ac.za
The oldest university in South Africa, the University of Cape Town is also South Africa’s leading research institution. International students make up about 20% of the total enrollment at the University. UCT is located in the suburbs near the Cape Town City Center. Your commute time to campus will be between 15-30 minutes, which is common for local students.
Most courses at UCT are lecture-based, and usually met between two and five days per week. Lectures are often accompanied by tutorials, which are much smaller classes and allow you to work through concepts covered during the lecture. Past students have found these tutorials to be extremely useful.
You can choose from a variety of courses in the following faculties at the University of Cape Town. For course descriptions, visit the University's Handbooks site.
South Africa-focused courses are available in fields such as Cultural Studies, History, Literature, Photography, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology. You may not enroll in courses in the Health Sciences faculty.
IES Abroad and the University of Cape Town reserve the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment or circumstances beyond our control.
Since Spring 2012, students enrolled in an IES Abroad Cape Town service learning course have been completing 20 of their 60 hour volunteer experience requirement working in Egoli, a nearby informal settlement that receives no government services like water, electricity, etc. While the majority of students who work at Egoli do so as part of their course work in an IES Abroad Service Learning course, any student at IES Abroad Cape Town may volunteer their time at Egoli.
Each semester, our students work on a different project, depending on the community's needs. You will visit the community at the beginning of the semester, and return throughout the semester to work on projects that will sustain the settlement long after you return home.
Recent efforts by IES Abroad students include:
You may also participate in UCT-organized service learning opportunities through an organization called SHAWCO (UCT Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation). SHAWCO offers other opportunities for study abroad students to volunteer their time to ongoing service projects. These are non-credit bearing, so many IES Abroad students join SHAWCO as part of their student life experience in Cape Town in addition to spending time working at Egoli.
Get involved in the community and learn about the local culture through field work or field research. For students who take one of the IES Abroad Service Learning courses, 60 hours of your time is committed to field work or research as well as completing a supervised field research project on a topic relating to your course. 20 hours of that requirement will be spent working and volunteering with the community at Egoli, a local informal community that receives no government services like electricity or water.
You may also do your field work or research with a local business, or with various non-governmental organizations. Once on-site, you work with your IES Abroad professor to determine the topic and location of your field research. All placements provide cultural experience and development of professional and personal skills.
We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave Cape Town, it will feel like home.
Houses or Apartments – Live in furnished houses or apartments in residential areas near the University of Cape Town. Residential advisors live in IES Abroad housing and are available to assist you throughout the semester. Student houses and apartments offer fully-equipped kitchens for meal preparation, but meals are not included in the program fee.
Part of making you feel at home in Cape Town is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you to places off the beaten path— we’re all about our student services. This is just one of the things we’re known for.
Our two-day orientation introduces you to our IES Abroad Cape Town staff, your fellow students, and the city of Cape Town and surrounding areas. The program begins with a trip to Bo-Kaap Kombuis, followed by a visit to Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, situated on the beautiful shores of False Bay. Topics such as academics, housing,transportation, and health and safety are covered during this time.
Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.
During our orientation, you also enjoy a tour of downtown Cape Town and a local township. You will also participate in the University of Cape Town’s orientation that gives you details on academics, extracurricular activities, and volunteer opportunities. The international academic program’s office activities include a day-tour around the Cape and the chance to participate in an African-style drumming performance.
Redefine the way you live and learn in Cape Town through cultural events, such as:
Although your adventure begins in Cape Town, our field trips take you to other exciting African locations to provide contrast and context to what you are learning in Cape Town. You share a portion of the cost with IES Abroad. Past destinations are listed below.
Kruger National Park/Soweto
Take a 3-hour game-drive in an open safari vehicle with one of Kruger’s experienced game rangers. Then, enjoy a 4-hour, ecofriendly bike tour in Soweto, Johannesburg’s historic African township, to see a workers’ hostel, the Meadowlands, the Hector Pieterson Memorial, and Nelson Mandela’s former home.
Along a stretch of coastline between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains, tour the Cango Caves, visit an ostrich farm, and hike the Goukamma Reserve.
Our main IES Abroad Cape Town Center is conveniently located near the lower campus of the University of Cape Town. Located on the slope of Devil’s Peak in a pleasant suburban area of Cape Town, the scenic campus blends into the natural scenery and provides beautiful views.
We also maintain an office at the University of the Western Cape, in Bellville.
Features at our main Center include computers, a small library and a sitting area. Both the University of Cape Town (UCT), and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) feature libraries, museums, theatres and cafes as well as robust sports facilities.
At UCT, there is a student shuttle service (the Jammie Shuttle) for those attending classes on its campus. Students at UWC are often within 10-15 minutes walking distance from their classes.
Naomi ClaassenIES Abroad Center Director
Naomi Claassen has been the Director of IES Abroad Cape Town since 2006. She came to IES Abroad from the University of Cape Town, where she served as coordinator of study abroad students for nine years and as a recruiter for the University for six years. Naomi was also a resident Warden at Rochester House, a UCT residence. Naomi earned her diploma in Education at the Western Cape College of Education and has completed an Associate in Management at UCT’s Graduate School of Business. She also has an Advanced Certificate in Adult Education.
IES Abroad Staff
Portia AdamsAdministrative and Finance Officer
Nick ShepherdAcademic Coordinator
Devonne BobbertProgram Assistant
FacultyMr. David StephensHealth and Community Development in South Africa
Ms. Liziwe McDaidEco-Justice in Africa
Dr. Firdouza WaggiePolity, Community Development, Urban Life in South Africa