Professor Donal McCracken
The School Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is internationally known for its excellence in Research, Teaching and Learning, and Community Engagement. It boasts a substantial number of internationally recognised researchers, NRF-rated scholars and scholars with international recognition for their excellence in Teaching and Learning. Their academic books as well as other academic publications are well prescribed across South Africa, the African continent and internationally.
With the merger between the former University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville, this reputation was enhanced because it brought together some of the most senior researchers and academics in the country in one school.
The school offers excellent programmes and courses that are well known nationally and internationally. Every year we receive a fair component of local but also international students - both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels - due to the high-level quality of our research as well as the international reputation of our academics. Some of the many programmes that stand out as exceptional are those in Music, isiZulu, English, Linguistics, Media and Cultural Studies, and Drama and Performance Studies. Music and Linguistics are offered only on the Howard College campus in Durban, while other qualifications are offered in Durban and on the Pietermaritzburg campus.
Given the diverse constitution of KwaZulu-Natal, students are prepared to function as academics in their own right in diverse cultural contexts. This relates to some of our courses focusing on the study of our cultural and colonial heritages as well as contemporary international challenges with regard to the global competitiveness of academia and working life. Our students, who excel in this regard at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, are all critically-engaged learners who can both analyse and interpret current local and global social and related challenges but also contribute constructively in institutional, public and governance domains. They possess the highest academic skills in critical and analytical thinking, academic reading, analysis, and interpretation, and constructive writing, and research and knowledge production.
Following our vision statement to be the Premier University of African Scholarship our students are also at the forefront of producing contextually-relevant knowledge to our continent. They are socially conscientised and socio-economically responsive to the wide variety of challenges our continent faces.
Our graduates are well sought after and excel in careers in the various fields of Music; Media and Cultural Studies; Marketing and related fields of Journalism, Editing and Publishing, Public Relations and Corporate Communication as well as Advertising; the various areas of specialisation in Drama and Performance Studies, and Teaching and Learning in Education at both school and university levels. Some of our courses already contain a high level of information technology work and this will be dramatically increased over the next two years.
The first level of undergraduate studies usually provides a broad base to students. This is also the level where students are formally and informally introduced to university life and skilled to function optimally as productive and successful students at the next levels. The university provides a wide variety of support systems which optimally prepare students for the challenges for university studies, ranging from critical reading and writing skills, through a variety of forms of study and writing skills, to expertise in computer and information technology expertise which may be required from students in the years of study.
From the second level, students usually have to choose their majors and preferred programmes of studies, which they then complete in the third level, preparing them for their postgraduate studies. We recognise that a solid undergraduate programme provides the necessary solid base for a successful postgraduate pathway which will allow students to complete their studies in the shortest possible time at Honours, Masters and Doctoral levels.
Throughout their academic career we have excellent academic staff who accompany students on their academic journeys. As internationally recognised staff, students are assured of the highest levels of support, guidance, mentorship and research supervision in their research projects and dissertations. Research that is contextually-relevant and that contributes to local knowledge production for both local and international consumption is encouraged. Our research outputs are of an international standard and internationally competitive, meaning that our students are in high demand in the job market and in working life.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal offers excellent archival and related resources, a large amount being associated with the School of Arts. We have a number of excellent international partnerships which allow our students to studyi at other universities internationally and on the African continent as part of both student and staff agreements and exchanges.