Wits International Relations

Wits International Relations, International Relations is an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on the study of foreign affairs and global issues that affect states within the international system. For students contemplating careers as practitioners or scholars in international relations, Wits offers extraordinary opportunities as it boasts the oldest and largest programme in International Relations in Southern Africa. In the vital and rapidly changing field of International Relations, the University of the Witwatersrand offers a three-year undergraduate major, one-year Honours degree, one-year MA degree by course work or a two-year MA by research, and a PhD by research. A young multinational teaching staff, augmented by visiting lecturers with special knowledge of international security, diplomacy, non-governmental organizations and foreign area studies, are able to offer students a depth and breadth of instruction and research support. The Department of International Relations is committed to developing the people and ideas that will enable South Africa to enhance the wellbeing of its citizens through expanding effective engagement in regional and world affairs. 

In particular, the Department of International Relations (IR) aims to:

  • Accelerate capacity building in IR in order to meet the needs of a democratic South Africa.
  • Develop students with a full range of training and research opportunities so that regardless of educational and economic background“ those able and willing to proceed through a BA to a Ph.D. can do so.
  • Ensure that the IR curriculum responds to the changing career development needs of South African students. Contribute to the conceptual and analytic foundations of IR theory and the international community.
  • Through research, publications and participation in public events, contribute to the scholarly, civic, national and international policy debates about South Africa’s engagement in regional and global affairs.
  • Develop partnerships with relevant institutions in order to bridge scholarly, policy and business communities to enhance the practical value of IR training and research and open career knowledge and opportunities for students, share resources, and to facilitate fund raising. 
  • Promote cooperation with other Departments in the Faculty of Humanities and with other faculties in the university.
  • Develop networks of scholarly exchange with universities and research institutes across South Africa, Africa and globally.

The “Wits Advantage”

Wits is committed to developing the foreign affairs expertise South Africa requires to deal with the complex interaction of external and domestic political, economic and social forces that are transforming our nation, Africa, and the world. Wits aspires to play a leading role in what must be a much broader campaign to strengthen South Africa’™s public and private sectors and our diverse civil society to advance the nations interests and democratic values in the country’s fast-growing networks of bilateral, multilateral and transnational relations. IR at Wits benefits from a unique and dynamic partnership with the South African Institute of International Affairs, the region’s leading producer of policy relevant conferences, seminars and research papers on regional and world issues. The Institute, located on the Wits campus, provides IR undergraduate and graduate students with important opportunities to interact with national and international leaders and policy makers, and to engage in high level debates about some of the most urgent issues facing the nation. In recent years a number of IR post-graduates served as research interns at SAIIA.  Finally, Wits is located at the centre of South Africa’s economic and political life with easy access to corporate and government leaders, who often appear as guest lecturers and as informal departmental advisors. These contacts and the proximity of many of the nation’s biggest and most internationally minded employers can be very valuable for student career planning.