Cape Town Overview


The academic objective of the Cape Town program is to introduce students to South Africa’s civil society, processes of governance and important theories of social justice, as well as the history and politics of post-apartheid South Africa. South Africa’s, and Cape Town’s rich democratic processes have no one entry point. Students can therefore engage with the program, and the City, in different ways. As a student in the program one can focus on developing their own conceptual understanding of the city through numerous courses and research possibilities; one can choose to apply for an internship with a Cape Town based organization. All possibilities hope to illuminate the many different ways South Africans practice active citizenship.


Students studying in Cape Town can arrange a directed reading guided by a Cape Town program lecturer or campus-based Stanford faculty member.

  • In either case students interested in pursuing directed reading should consult with the program director as early as possible. Those interested in pursuing a directed reading with a campus-based Stanford faculty member should work closely with their academic advisor and the Cape Town program director in developing these projects.
  • A Directed Reading Proposal (PDF) must be submitted to the Overseas Studies office at least one month prior to the quarter of intended study.
  • A directed reading may be taken only in addition to twelve units of regular coursework offered directly by the center.


The Cape Town Program offers courses that provide credit toward Stanford graduation and most classes also count toward an undergraduate major. Students must enroll in a minimum of twelve units from the courses offered through the program (directed reading and local university courses are not included). For a list of all BOSP courses offered in the current academic year and planned for the next, and for information on which courses earn departmental credit or fulfill General Education Requirements, please refer to the BOSP course database. For information on courses scheduled for the current academic year and for enrollment, please refer to Axess.


If you enroll and are committed to participation in the Cape Town program for BOTH Winter and Spring Quarters, you may be able to take a pre-selected class at either:

  • University of Cape Town
  • University of the Western Cape

Courses award generally 4 units of Stanford credit per course (though not necessarily as department credit towards a major). Upon return to Stanford, you must submit completed coursework to the appropriate department for assessment. Students interested in this option should communicate with the program director as early as possible to express their interest and the course they wish to take. They must also meet the 12 unit Cape Town program course enrollment requirement.

If this is an option that interests you, you must contact the Cape Town director, Adelene Africa, at least 8 weeks prior to arrival.


The Center for African Studies offers a writing workshop for students pursuing Africa-related honors theses. Students who have participated in the Stanford Program in Cape Town, especially those who have completed research, are well prepared to meet the requirements for honors certification in their departments and are welcome to participate in the Honors Thesis Workshop.

For more information, please consult the African Studies Center’s website. Questions should be directed to the Center for African Studies, located in Encina West.