Start your South African adventure in Cape Town, an iconic city and popular spot for those who want to explore Southern Africa. Located between the Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain, Cape Town is the southern-most city in the country, with a beautiful landscape of flora and fauna.
Through our program, you directly enroll in the University of the Western Cape (UWC), a university with great historic significance. Founded in 1960, under the separate University bill of 1957, UWC became a center of the student struggle against apartheid. After the end of the apartheid, many UWC alumni and academics played an active role in the South African government.
Today, UWC is heralded as the leading university in South Africa in its long-held commitment to include South Africa’s non-white population in its education. This research university is one of the most diverse universities in South Africa, ranks among the top third of South African universities, and has a highly selective admissions process. You will take courses in Art, Education, Economics, and Natural Sciences.
You can also enroll in an IES Abroad service leraning course that helps you understand some of Cape Town's most pressing social issues, while contributing your skills toward a community-driven solution. The optional IES Abroad service learning course includes completing 60 hours of volunteer work while in Cape Town. Twenty of those 60 hours will be in Egoli, a settlement that receives no government services like water or electricity. With your help, our students can make a small, but life-changing contribution to the people of Egoli. The remaining 40 hours can be spent volunteering with other local organizations as you prepare for your final research paper.
Cape Town will be your classroom. With 11 official languages, South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, giving you a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about their heritage. Local students will be your roommates while you stay at UWC’s residence hall or you can live with other IES Abroad students in apartments near UCT. Through living and learning in Cape Town, you will be able to witness first-hand a society undergoing exciting and dynamic changes; Cape Town is also the legislative capital of South Africa.
When you’re not learning in Cape Town, you’ll be exploring beautiful South Africa. One highlight of our optional field trip offerings is a three-hour game drive in an open safari vehicle at Kruger National Park where you can see exotic animals up close. Or, visit Blyde Canyon, which is the third largest canyon in the world.
We want you to feel at home in South Africa, so we will do everything we can to help you integrate into life there. From taking advantage of volunteer opportunities and experiencing traditional African cultures, our job is to make sure you have the best, most authentic study abroad experience possible.
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 date 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 the Western Cape.
You take 15–19 credit hours per semester. IES Abroad offers service learning courses in Environmental Studies, Health Studies, and Sociology through an in-depth and hands-on approach. While optional, selecting one of these courses is strongly recommended.
You create your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components:
About University of the Western Capewww.uwc.ac.za
Explore the cultural and social landscape of the Republic of South Africa through a semester of study abroad at the University of Western Cape (UWC), a major research university with a highly diverse student body. The University has a strong tradition of outreach in local communities, in particular the townships that are still home to tens of thousands of people of color in the Cape Town area. It is a hands-on opportunity to study the social and economic transformation of the country.
UWC is located in the attractive northern suburb of Bellville, and its scenic campus, which includes a nature reserve, blends into the natural scenery and provides beautiful views of the surrounding mountains of the Cape Peninsula and Stellenbosch. Bellville is just 12 miles from the center of Cape Town and is known for its active music scene.
CoursesChallenge yourself at UWC in a wide variety of courses, including the Natural and Social Sciences, the Humanities, Economics, Business, Psychology, Social Work, Exercise Science and Education.
Qualified students can elect courses in the faculties of Art, Education, Economic and Management Sciences, and Natural Science. A limited number of courses in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences are also available for IES Abroad students.
The undergraduate fields offered at UWC include:
Currently under construction. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.
Participating in a service learning experience in Cape Town is one of the best ways to gain a deeper understanding of the city's culture and society. Working alongside local people towards a common goal, you experience firsthand some of the social issues that affect Cape Town, while contributing your skills towards a community-driven solution.
A service learning experience consistes of time spent with a local organization, accompanied by a weekly academic, for-credit service learning seminar. Through the seminar, you have structured time for reflection, discussion, and research on the issues of your host community.
Since 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 life water or electricity. While the majority of students who work in 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 in 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:
At the end of the semester, IES Abroad students also donate clothing, toiletries, and supplies left from their time in Cape Town to the community of Egoli.
You may also participate in other volunteer projects with other organizations and donate your time to ongoing service projects.
IES Abroad Field Experience Course (Optional)
The IES Abroad Field Experience Course provides you with service learning that focuses on social and economic development in South Africa.
Field placements in NGOs in the Cape Town area offer you a direct insight into the efforts to create opportunities for all South Africans.
Even though you’re directly enrolling in one of our partner universities, there’s something IES Abroad wants you to know: we’re here for you if you need us.
Choosing and directly enrolling in courses abroad can be confusing and overwhelming. This is why we offer you predeparture advising that’s specific to your needs. Our goal is to provide support and guidance throughout your application and enrollment process.
But our advising services don’t stop there. While you’re in Cape Town, our staff is available to help you transition into your new home.
The support services we offer IES Abroad direct enrollment students are specifically designed to help you achieve your study abroad goals as effectively and smoothly as possible. We know studying abroad is an adventure, and, at times, you may need help or just someone to talk to—that’s why our staff will be there for you.
Students at UWC have two options for housing: living in a UWC residence hall on campus or living in a shared IES Abroad apartment close to the University of Cape Town campus (with daily commute to the UWC campus at your own expense).
UWC Residence Hall -- Live in a single furnished room with a shared bathroom, or single or double furnished room with a semi-private bathroom of the Kovacs Residence Hall located on the University of the Western Cape's campus. The hall also offers rooms furnished for students with special needs with a kitchen area and private bathroom. Your roommates are South African and international students.Students have access to a shared kitchen, communal study area, coin-operated laundry, a convenience store, and Internet access is available. No meals are included.
Apartment near University of Cape Town – Live in shared apartment near the UCT campus with other IES Abroad students. You will have a single or double room, shared bathroom, and shared living room and kitchen space. For more details, see the description of the UCT housing section on this website.
Part of making you feel at home in Cape Town is doing our best to make sure 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 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, the city of Cape Town and the surrounding areas. The program begins with a trip to along the Garden Route 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. You will also have an in-depth UWC orientation led by their International Office.
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.
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.
Garden Route3 days / Orientation
Travel along the Garden Route to Bo-Kaap Kombuis, followed by a visit to Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, situated along the beautiful shores of False Bay. Tour the Cango Caves, visit an ostrich farm, and hike the Goukamma Reserve.
Kruger National Park/Soweto5 daysTake a three-hour game drive in an open safari vehicle with one of Kruger’s experienced game rangers, where it is possible to see lions, African elephants, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, and leopards. Then, enjoy a two hour, eco-friendly 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.
IES Abroad field trip destinations, activities, and lengths of stay may vary according to term and availability.
About the Center
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 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
Mr. David StephensHealth and Community Development in South Africa
Ms. Liziwe McDaidEco-Justice in Africa
Dr. Firdouza WaggiePolity, Community Development, Urban Life in South Africa