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UP Nursing

UP Nursing

UP Nursing,
The Department of Nursing Science at the University of Pretoria, as a pioneer in the nursing profession, offered the first degree programme in Nursing in South Africa and was founded in 1956.
Since its inception, the Department has played a leading role in nursing education in South Africa. The qualification in Nursing Science strives for excellence in its teaching and research programmes, and its focus is on the promotion of the intellectual, cultural and personal development of all its students.


History of the Department of Nursing Science

The need for a degree course in nursing was already envisaged from the early 1900’s by the South African Trained Nurses Association. The problem however was to obtain funding for it.
In 1955 the Director of Nursing in the Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA), Mrs Charlotte Searle, approached UP to start a degree course for basic nursing training. The Principal, Professor CH Rautenbach, and the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor AN Pelzer, agreed to start a 4&12; year BA (Nursing) Degree leading to registration as a general nurse. The Principal also undertook that if the first course was successful, a Senior Lecturer post in Nursing Arts would be created, and as soon as the numbers warranted it that a Professor post would be made available. The first group of 32 students started on 1 February 1956.
Ten years later the Board of the South African Nursing Association (SANA) decided that the 75th year commemoration of the State registration of Nurses in South Africa (1891) needed to be celebrated appropriately. On 18 October 1966 at the SANA Congress in Durban, the announcement of the first Chair in Nursing in South Africa was made namely “The South African Nursing Association Chair in Nursing”.
This approval included the following:

  • The creation of the Department of Nursing Science
  • The appointment of a Professor in Nursing namely Professor Charlotte Searle, as well as a senior lecturer in Nursing
  • The transfer of the BA (Nursing) degree to the Faculty of Medicine and the degree B Curationis (BCur)
  • Postgraduate degree courses to be instituted.

The financing of this was carried by SANA for a period of ten years with TPA also making a contribution.
The first 36 students started with a 4 year BCur degree leading to registration as a general nurse on 1 February 1967. This group was to complete their degree at the end of 1970, but in January of that year Professor Searle informed them that by extending their course by six months, they could also register as midwives and psychiatric nurses. The first group of BCur students thus completed their degree in 1971.
The first master’s degrees were conferred in 1969, in Nursing Administration and in Nursing Education. The first nursing graduate to obtain a master’s degree in nursing was in 1969, namely Mrs WJ Kotzé. In 1970 three clinical master’s degrees were conferred in Advanced Intensive General Nursing. This was followed by a postbasic degree in Nursing namely BCur Instructionis et Administrare (B Cur I et A). Mrs Kotzé went on to complete the DCur and to succeed Prof Searle in 1975 when last named reached retirement age. Professor Kotzé was succeeded by Professor JGP van Niekerk, one of the first BCur students (1967). Other heads of this Department are Professor NC van Wyk and the present head, Professor FM Mulaudzi.
The students did their clinical learning practica at Pretoria General Hospital, later renamed HF Verwoerd Hospital and currently Steve Biko Academic Hospital. The hospital remains the primary site for student clinical learning practica and this has strengthened the relationship and the collaboration between the hospital and both the Department and UP.


Bachelor of Nursing Science (B Cur)

What does the degree entail?

Being a nurse means being part of the large team of professional workers dedicated to rendering health services to the community. It requires being prepared to understand, accept and trust people whose way of life, beliefs, values and culture may totally differ from one’s own, and to serve them and care for them with one’s knowledge and personal aptitude. Nursing Science equips one to serve others and to enrich their lives. The name of the degree means caring.
The course covers four years of full-time study. During the course, students are prepared for four career fields, namely:

General Nursing

Caring for people with different needs in different situations, such as in hospitals, clinics and private practices.


Community Nursing

This is aimed at primary health care. It includes the prevention of diseases and the promotion of health, the rendering of clinical nursing services and the rehabilitation of people in the general community.

Psychiatric Nursing

The emphasis is on the mental health of individuals, families and the community.

Midwifery Nursing

In this field, the emphasis is on providing in the unique physical, psychic and mental needs of a woman and her baby within the family and the community.
This entails that students have to work fixed hours during the semester and also spend certain holiday periods doing actual nursing.
Students register with the South African Nursing Council as student nurses.

What can I do with my degree?

You can work in various hospitals and clinics in the community and also run a private nursing practice. The state and the private sector offer a wide variety of opportunities. The following fields of nursing specialisation are available: general medical and surgical nursing science; emergency nursing, theatre nursing, community nursing; psychiatric nursing; midwifery nursing; paediatric nursing; neonatal nursing; nursing management and nursing education.

Admission requirements

Mathematics, Physical Science, Biology or Physiology are recommended subjects. Selection is based on academic merit. An AP-score Grade 11(25) and Grade 12(24) is required. A personal interview is conducted with every applicant. An NSC for degree purposes is required with the following minimum subject requirements and AP-score per subject, indicated in brackets:

  • English (4);
  • Additional Language (4);
  • Four other subjects (4);
  • Life Orientation (4) – Life Orientation is excluded from the APS-calculation.

Admission to the course is subject to Departmental selection, and applications close on 31 May of the preceding year. Selection also includes writing the University’s admission test.

Course content

The syllabus consists of subjects forming the basis for nursing, namely the social, biological and nursing sciences. The subjects within the various sciences are presented by experts of the University of Pretoria.
First year: Anatomy, Nursing Studies, Dynamics of Nursing Practice, Medical Terminology, Philosophy, Physiology, Nursing Practice Education, Computer Literacy and Language Skills, Ethnic Language.
Second year: Community Development, Psychology, Integrative Health Care, Microbiology, Nursing Studies, Physiology, Dynamics of Nursing Practice, Nursing Practice Education, Health Care Systems.
Third year: Pharmacology, Nursing Studies, Dynamics of Nursing Practice, Nursing Practice Education.
Fourth year: Health Research, Nursing Studies, Dynamics of Nursing Practice, Nursing Practice Education.

For more information

Please contact the following person for information:
Dr VM Bhana-Pema
Department of Nursing Science
Faculty of Health Care Sciences
University of Pretoria
Private Bag x 323
South Africa
Tel: +27 12 356 3171 / 3163
Fax: +27 12 356 3166
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Contact the Department of Nursing Science

Physical Address:
Department of Nursing Science
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Pretoria
HW Snyman building, Room 8-38
31 Bophelo Rd
Postal Address:
Department of Nursing Science
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Pretoria
Private Bag x 323
General Enquiries:
Mrs Maureen Venter (PA to HoD)
Tel:  +27 12 356 3178
Fax:  +27 12 356 3166
[email protected]
Mrs RM Modise (B Cur I et A)
Tel: (012) 356 3168
Fax:  (012) 356 3166
[email protected]
Ms Olga Shokane (B Cur)
Tel: (012) 356 3163
Fax: (012) 356 3166
[email protected]
Dr Tk Bello (M Cur & PhD)
Tel: (012) 356 3157
Fax: (012) 356 3166
[email protected]