Welcome to the School of Economics

South Africa faces enormous development challenges. Unemployment, inequality and poverty are unacceptably high. Economic growth has remained stubbornly low. As one of the leading Schools of Economics in South Africa, we are responsible for dealing with these challenges through our academic research and our teaching. This is a challenge we take seriously.

Economics forms the foundation of any commerce-related degree at university, not only at UCT but at universities worldwide. However, it is more than just a tool for thinking about business. Economics is a social science. The discipline is grounded solidly in analysing the social and economic relationships that underpin societies. Economics is therefore of great relevance to the development and social challenges facing South Africa.

Economics has many dimensions. It speaks to a broad audience. At a macro level, we ask the following questions: Why are some countries poor and others rich? What drives the high unemployment rates in South Africa? How do countries develop over time? What is the role of government in the economy? What causes recessions and booms?

At a microeconomic level, we study the behaviour and outcomes of individuals and firms. A significant strength of our School is the depth of our research using household-level data to understand better questions such as: How do workers find jobs and how do firms find workers? What is the effect of government transfers on individuals within households? Why can't the youth find jobs? Why do one or two large companies dominate some industries while others are characterised by many small firms (e.g. furniture producers and building contractors)?

One strength of economics is that it provides a theoretical lens through which to make sense of a complex world. But the theory itself is only one part of the story. Within the School, we emphasise teaching analytical and empirical tools to test whether these theories are consistent with the data. In this regard, UCT's School of Economics has several affiliated research units that do cutting-edge research in fields ranging from environmental policy to poverty alleviation and development policy. Through this research, we aim to understand better how the world works.

UCT economics degrees are very well regarded locally and internationally. Our postgraduate students are widely accepted into top international universities for PhD studies. We attract a wide range of students to our programmes from across Africa. Despite the financial crisis and the economic slowdown, many UCT graduates in Economics have found excellent employment opportunities in commercial banks, the South African Reserve Bank, asset management companies, and consulting firms, including McKinsey's and Genesis Analytics. Many graduates are also employed in provincial and national government departments, while others have become researchers in universities, non-government organisations and multilateral organisations such as the World Bank.

Our role is to contribute to the student and society's development broadly. We encourage you to participate with us in this challenge.

The following programmes are offered by the School of Economics: