Frequently asked questions on academic structure and administrative processes


  • 1. What does the term Faculty mean at UCT?

    Organisationally, UCT is structured into faculties. These are similar to colleges in some US universities. While autonomous, each follows the same central policies and administrative procedures.

    UCT has six faculties, five of which offer courses to study abroad and exchange students: Commerce, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, and Science. Each faculty has a number of academic departments (usually divided by discipline).

    Students in the Semester Study Abroad programme will be allocated to a faculty for academic registration. The enrolling faculty is normally the one which offers the majority of your chosen courses. Once registered in a faculty, all academic administration processes will be handled through that faculty office. Allocation to a faculty is for administrative purposes: it does not affect your academic experience or who teaches your courses.

    The term ‘faculty’ at UCT does not refer to an academic staff member/professor.

  • 2. What is registration?

    Registration is the process of joining UCT as a student and then enrolling in courses. During registration, the faculty office will create a record for you in the student records system (PeopleSoft), assign you to the Semester Study Abroad programme, and enrol you in courses and classes.

    We will send you details about what is needed for registration. Keep watching your email for updates.

  • 3. Which faculty office will I register in?

    You will be allocated to a faculty office based on the courses that you selected when you applied and their approval status. We will email you with details about which faculty office you will register in before the start of the programme.

  • 4. How do I register?

    There are two phases to registration:

    • Completion of ‘registration’ as a student at UCT which includes verification of your personal details;
    • Enrolment in courses selected and approved when you applied.

    We will email you step-by-step instructions closer to the time. Simply follow the guidelines to access online registration and course enrolment using your application username and password.

  • 5. Which courses do I register for?

    When you applied to the UCT semester study abroad programme you selected up to four courses for ‘pre-approval’ in your online application form. Your course selection was sent to the relevant academic department at UCT, together with a copy of your academic transcript, for them to confirm whether you are eligible to take their course.

    We have been sending emails about the pre-approval status of each of your selected courses. If you have not received these, please check your email filters to make sure they have not been diverted to another folder in your email account. If you still can't find the notification emails, contact and we will send you copies.

    You can still change your mind about your course selection: you have until Friday of the first week of teaching for the semester to confirm your course selection with your faculty office.

  • 6. What is course pre-approval?

    Pre-approval is an in-principle decision about course admission made during the application process. The relevant academic department will review your academic transcript to evaluate whether you meet the entry requirements for the courses you selected in your online application.

    If you log into your online application using your UCT student number and password, you will see one of the following status notifications against each of your selected courses:

    Approved – your request for entry to the course has been approved and you will be enrolled in this course at registration
    Approval Pending – the academic department is still reviewing your course admission request
    Not Approved – the academic department has declined your request for course admission. This could be because you do not meet the admission requirements (course pre-requisites), the course is not open for enrolment by study abroad and exchange students, or the course is not being offered this semester.

    Certain courses may require that you take an audition, write an essay, submit a portfolio, or take an oral exam before approval is granted.

  • 7. How do I change my course selection?

    During the first week of teaching for the semester you can change your course selection by completing a Change of Curriculum request and submitting it to your faculty office.

    This is only possible during the first week of teaching. Thereafter, you can remove courses from your transcript, but you cannot add any new ones.

    Study abroad and exchange students can enrol in a maximum of four semester courses (or the equivalent where courses of differing lengths are chosen). Additional fees and charges will apply for each additional course enrolment.

    The faculty office will not allow you to register for courses that clash on the timetable, even if you have approval for both courses.

    You must check your academic record in self-service (in PeopleSoft) after any change in curriculum to ensure the correct courses are added/dropped from your record.

  • 8. How do I remove a course from my academic transcript?

    You can apply to drop a course by completing a Change of Curriculum request and submitting it to your faculty office by the end of the 6th week of teaching.

    After this deadline, it is not possible to remove the course from the transcript. Any abandoned courses will be graded ‘incomplete’ (which is a fail grade).

  • 9. What is a normal course load?

    The normal course load is

    • at Bachelors level three or four semester courses (those with an ‘F’ or ‘S’ suffix in the course code) with a total credit load of 72-90 NQF credits depending on which faculty offers the course.
    • at Masters level, the combination of courses which will give you a credit load of at least 45 NQF credits*.

    Study abroad and exchange students can enrol in a maximum of four semester courses (or the equivalent where courses of differing lengths are chosen). Additional fees and charges will apply for each additional course enrolment.

    * The South African coursework Masters is 180 NQF credits. This is typically split into 90 NQF credits for the dissertation and 90 NQF credits for courses taken across one year.

  • 10. What are NQF credits?

    'NQF credits' signals that the learning for the course is recognised as part of the approved curriculum of a qualification accredited under the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

    UCT uses the Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) system.  The system rests on the award of one credit for every ten notional hours of learning where learning covers all activities related to contact time and guided independent learning or self-study.

    Each of the University’s six faculties has a particular interpretation of CAT and credit values for equivalent learning can vary depending on which faculty your course is located in.  As a general rule, a years’ worth of full-time study at undergraduate (Bachelor) level is worth 144 credits.  However, the size of courses varies and this can introduce some complexity in calculating what constitutes a full course-load.

    • FIRST year Bachelor courses are typically worth 18 credits;
    • SECOND year Bachelor courses are typically worth 18 and 24 credits;
    • THIRD year Bachelor courses can be worth between 18 and 30 credits.

    At a minimum, a full semester's worth of study typically falls between 72 and 90 credits. To meet this total, students would need to take between three and four courses. At a minimum, a full semester’s worth of study at Master’s level is typically between 48 and 60 credits. To meet this total, students would typically take two courses coded 5000-level.

    A semester's worth of study is equivalent to

    • 60 UK CAT points;
    • 30 ECTS credits;
    • 15 US credits/ credit hours.
  • 11. What do my UCT grades and credits equate to at my home university?

    Your home university will use its own processes to convert UCT grades and credits to their credit weighting and grading system.

    As an approximation,

    72 NQF credits at UCT equates to 30 ECTS credits (for European degree programmes) and
    68–81 NQF credits equates to 15–18 US credits (for American degree programmes).

    The approximate grade conversion is:

    UCT grades

    in the US

    European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

    in the UK

    75 - 100% First Class



    1 (first)

    70 - 74% Second Class (Division One)



    2.1 (upper second)

    60 - 69% Second Class (Division Two)



    2.2 (lower second)

    50 - 59% Third Class


    55 – 59% - C
    50 – 55% - D

    3 (third)

    0 - 49% Fail


    40 – 49% - E
    30 – 39% - FX
    0 – 29% - F


    DPR: Duly performed certificate refused (not permitted to write examination)




    AB: Absent from examination




  • 12. How do I add/drop courses?

    You can change your course selection in the first week of teaching for the semester by completing a Change of Curriculum request and submitting it via self-service to your faculty office.

    The deadline for adding a course to your academic record is Friday of the first week of teaching (Teaching Day 5).

    The deadline for removing a course from your academic record is Friday of the sixth week of teaching. After this deadline, it is not possible to remove the course from the transcript. Any abandoned courses will be graded ‘incomplete’ (which is a fail grade).

  • 13. What time are classes offered?

    The times for each class are indicated in the relevant faculty handbook, but the venues are posted on the notice boards in the various departments. You can also use this link to view lecture/ tutorial times and venue details:   

    Lectures are 45 minutes in duration. There are 11 lecture periods per day:

    Lecture period 1 = 8.00-8.45
    Lecture period 2 = 9.00-9.45
    Lecture period 3 = 10.00-10.45
    Lecture period 4 = 11.00-11.45
    Lecture period 5 = 12.00-12.45
    The Meridian (M) = 13:00 – 13.45 (1pm – 1.45pm)
    Lecture period 6 = 14:00-14:45 (2pm – 2.45pm)
    Lecture period 7 = 15.00-15.45 (3pm – 3.45pm)
    Lecture period 8 = 16.00-16.45 (4pm – 4.45pm)
    Lecture period 9 = 17.00-17.45 (5pm – 5.45pm)
    Lecture period 10 = 18.00-18.45 (6pm – 6.45pm)

  • 14. How do I know whether my classes are offered at the same time?

    To check whether there is any clash in your class times and/or lab work times, confirm your lecture times using this link:

  • 15. Can I receive extra time accommodations and concessions?

    Extra time concessions are applied for through the Disability Service. Students with specific learning disabilities, physical or sensory disabilities, or medical conditions that impact on their ability to perform under timed test or examination conditions can apply for this concession.

    The concession allows for up to 15 minutes extra time per hour. Thus, in the case of a three-hour exam, a maximum of an additional 45 minutes is permitted.

    Extra time concessions are not granted for mental health disability. Students with a mental health disability can apply for access to a secluded examination venue.

    To apply for an extra time concession, register with Disability Service and make an appointment with the psychologist. You must register with the Service in person at their office. It is not possible to complete this process online.

    If you are applying for a time concession on the grounds of a physical disability or chronic medical condition you will need to submit your application through a medical doctor at the Student Wellness Service. You will be assisted to make this appointment while at the Disability Service.

    The deadlines for registering with the Disability Service and applying for an extra time concession are:

    1st Semester: 20 March
    2nd Semester: 20 August

    We recommend you register as soon after you arrive at UCT as possible. This will expedite the approvals process ensuring you have the necessary accommodations in place in time for class tests earlier in the semester (which can begin as early as teaching week 4).

    You will need to submit the following documents in support of your application for accommodations and/or the extra time concession. Ask your home university for copies of the documents you submitted when you applied for accommodations there.

    • the accommodations letter issued by your home university. This is the letter that lists what accommodations you currently receive from your home university.
    • for accommodations for a specific learning disability, an assessment report from an appropriately qualified psychologist.
    • for accommodations for a physical or sensory disability, or chronic illness, the relevant medical documentation, including certificates and reports from your medical practitioner or specialist.
    • for access to a secluded exam venue on the grounds of mental health disability, a report from your mental health practitioner.

    The deadlines for submitting supporting documents are:

    1st Semester: 23 April
    2nd Semester: 23 September

    You can submit your supporting documents in advance (before arrival at UCT) by emailing but you will still need to complete the formal registration and assessment with the Disability Service in person when you arrive.

For more information

Contact with any questions you have about academic matters during your time at UCT. The SSA Officers will advise you about what process to follow in the faculty office.