University Of Pretoria Computer Science

University Of Pretoria Computer Science

University Of Pretoria Computer Science, The Department fulfils a vital role within the broader Information Technology spectrum in South Africa, as well as internationally.

Our main objective is to explore and research the scientific basis of new technologies. We furthermore promote the proliferation of reliable, robust and innovative computing and information technologies into the IT-industry in South Africa.

Excellence in computer science education, the development of internationally and nationally recognized research initiatives and strong industry collaboration are the driving factors underpinning the success of the Department of Computer Science.

The University of Pretoria is unique in administering Information Science, Informatics (Information Systems) and Computer Science from within a single School of Information Technology (SIT).


The Computer Science Department offers two three-year degrees, the BSc (CS)and BSc IT. The degrees equip the graduate to develop software-based solutions for problems in a variety of contexts.

The curricula of our degrees conform to the highest international standards and provide the fundamental knowledge that is required in all important areas of computer science. A wide variety of computer science modules are taught, emphasizing state-of-the-art application of computer science in today’s IT industry. Ethical implications and professional values for the computer science graduate are also covered in the curricula.

The BSc (CS) degree

The BSc (CS) degree emphasises the understanding of computer science fundamentals by offering a wide variety of computer science and mathematics courses. The curriculum is in line with recognised international standards and leads directly to postgraduate degrees in computer science, opening doors to research or positions of responsibility in industry.

The BSc (CS) structure comprises fundamental modules, a University of Pretoria requirement;  core modules, the foundation for the Computer Science requirement of the degree;   and elective modules offering a choice of subjects enabling a student to choose to do only computer science elective modules in the third year of study.

Admission requirements

To obtain admission to this degree, a candidate should have obtained the following:

  • a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with admission for degree purposes; and
  • a minimum Admission Point Score (APS) of 30 in the final Grade 12 examinations; and
  • compliance with the NSC minimum requirements; additionally one of these languages must be English or Afrikaans at level 5 (60-69%); and
  • at least level 5 (60-69%) in Mathematics; and
  • at least level 4 (50-59%) in Life Orientation (excluded when calculating the APS).

The BSc IT degree

In line with the latest trends in the Information Technology industry, the BSc IT degree offers a selection of Information Technology application environments (referred to as an elective group of the degree), of which a student has to choose one. The degree enables graduates to design and develop systems applied within a particular discipline, but also equips them with adequate domain knowledge within the discipline to be able to do consulting work.

The seven application environments from which a student has to choose, are listed below together with their potential career advancements:

  • Data Science: Data scientist, Data analyst, Big data developer
  • Genetics: bio programming, biotechnology, administration of biological data
  • Geographical Information Science: GIS consultation, environmental analysis for national, provincial and municipal governments, town and regional planning applications
  • IT and Enterprises: IT business analysis and consultation, IT entrepreneurial consultation
  • IT and Law: expert witness in IT related court cases, consultation on IT related laws, computer and security consultation, forensic investigation
  • IT and Music: electronic music analysis, programming of music devices and drivers, digital story telling and advertising
  • Software development: database design and development, human computer interface (HCL) design, programming in multiple environments

The degree comprises fundamental modules, a University of Pretoria requirement;  core modules, the foundation for the Computer Science requirement of the degree;  and elective modules, the required subjects in the application environments.

Admission requirements

To obtain admission to this degree, a candidate should have obtained the following:

  • a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with admission for degree purposes; and
  • a minimum Admission Point Score (APS) of 30 in the final Grade 12 examinations; and
  • compliance with the NSC minimum requirements; additionally one of these languages must be English or Afrikaans at level 4 (50-59%); and
  • at least level 5 (60-69%) in Mathematics; and
  • at least level 4 (50-59%) in Life Orientation (excluded when calculating the APS).



Postgraduate Degrees


The Department of Computer Science offers research-based MSc and PhD degrees, and now also a Masters in IT (MIT) degree by coursework and dissertation.

Masters in IT

The focus of the MIT (Stream C: Big Data Science) degree is to provide educational opportunities on a post-graduate level for researchers and practitioners in Big Data Science cognizant of the needs on the South African landscape. Graduate professionals from industry can leverage this degree to re-skill themselves in the foundational building blocks of Big Data Science whilst researchers can excel in Big Data and Data Science as research disciplines. The curriculum contains 180 credits, half of which are required courses and the other half is a research-based mini-dissertation. For more information see

MSc and PhD degrees

In both research-based MSc and PhD degrees, a student works under the guidance of a supervisor and is expected to identify and pursue a research project. Research results are to be fully reported in an MSc dissertation or PhD thesis respectively.

The department thus follows the system of MSc’s and PhD’s by research only, i.e. these degrees are not module-driven, as is sometimes the case elsewhere. In particular, the Department does not offer an MSc degree that has the flavour of a conversion degree from some other discipline into computer science.

Since a pure Computer Science research-oriented student does not have daily commitments (classes, etc.) it is not absolutely necessary to do these degrees on a fulltime basis. However, it is highly desirable to do so, even if only for a limited period in order to get the research process going. Whatever mode of study the student chooses (full- or part-time), regular discussions and interaction with the supervisor are important. While this can sometimes take place electronically, it is also important to hold regular across-the-table discussions. Thus, staff will not normally enter into a supervisory relationship with a student who is not physically resident within reasonably proximity of the university.

The minimum registration period for an MSc is one year, and for a PhD it is two years.In practice, almost all part-time students will take at least double this minimum time. Many full-time students, for one or other reason, also take a few months more than the minimum time.

The outcome of an MSc is a dissertation that demonstrates to an examination panel that that the student has the ability to plan, initiate, carry out and report on a scientific investigation. An article should have been submitted to an ISI journal on completion of the dissertation

The outcome of a PhD is a thesis that demonstrates to an examination panel that the student has the ability to independently plan, initiate, carry out and report on a scientific investigation. The research work done should be a significant and original contribution to the body of knowledge in the area of specialisation. Two articles should have been submitted to ISI journals before the end of the research period.

A PhD thus differs from an MSc in terms of scope, depth, degree of independent work expected of the student, originality in the research results, etc.


The department will supervise research projects in areas related to the research interests of the members of staff. A student who has a sufficiently strong background in another mainstream area of computer science and who is able to propose a sensible research project in this area may also be considered for supervision. Currently, the following members of staff are available for the supervision of MSc and PhD degrees (click on a name to get information about the person’s research interests):

  • Prof. Jan Eloff
  • Prof. Andries Engelbrecht
  • Prof. Stefan Gruner
  • Prof. Martin Olivier
  • Prof. Hein Venter
  • Dr. Marde Helbig
  • Dr. Patricia Lutu
  • Dr. Linda Marshall
  • Dr. Vukosi Marivate

The following staff members are available for the supervising of MSc degrees:

  • Mr. Christopher Cleghorn
  • Ms. Tayana Morkel
  • Ms. Vreda Pieterse
  • Ms. Anna Rakitianskaia
  • Mr. Noh Tewolde


Please view the University of Pretoria Postgraduate Fees page for the latest information on fees.In 2016, the annual tuition fee was R14 000 for MSc and R15 000 for PhD, of which R7500 is payable on registration.

Funding and assistantships

For information on postgraduate funding, navigate from the UP webpage
Postgraduate Students -> Fees and Funding -> Postgraduate Funding

The department also has available a limited number of teaching and research assistantships that may be filled by South African citizens, or international citizens with valid work permits. Details can be obtained from Ms Elmarie Willemse.

Application closing date

Prospective students may apply at any stage, but applications for 2016 will be considered until 29 February 2016.

You are welcome to contact Hein Venter for further guidance about postgraduate studies if and only if you have thoroughly read all the information on this page.

Relevant External Information


  • EBIT Faculty Website: More information about our faculty, the faculty of Engineering, Built-environment and IT.
  • Administrative Information: The on-line Client Services Center website manages information about tuition fees, financing and accomodation.
  • On-line Application: Apply on-line to study at the University of Pretoria

Admission criteria

MScThe entry requirement for an MSc degree is a four-year BSc(Hons) degree in Computer Science, with a 65% average (or demonstrably equivalent qualifications). Note that even though many foreign degrees may use the nomenclature BSs(Hons), may take four years to complete, and may even be assessed by SAQA (see below) to be the equivalent of a South African BSc(Hons) degree, the degrees are in fact not quite of the same standard. Students who do not qualify directly may find it advantageous to complete the CS Honours degree before attempting an MSc. Students who formally qualify, but do not have the necessary background or experience may be required by the supervisor to take some undergraduate or honours modules. Full-time study is strongly encouraged, even if only for part of the study period.


The prospective student should have passed an MSc degree in computer science (or equivalent) from an accredited university and should have obtained a mark of 70%.

N.B. Students from outside South Africa who apply for either PhD or MSc admission need to have their highest university qualification certified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). This will indicate SAQA’s estimate of the qualification’s level, relative to similar South African qualifications. This certificate should be included in the documentation that is to accompany your application. Note, however, that in the light of the department’s high standards, SAQA’s assessment is not regarded as binding. The department reserves the right to make a more thorough assessment of the applicant’s academic transcript and to form an independent view of the applicant’s suitability for postgraduate studies, should this be deemed necessary.

Admission procedure

If you want to do an MSc or PhD degree in this department, and if you meet the criteria for admission, then your immediate task is to identify a research area and potential supervisor. If you do not have a specific area that interests you, then you should spend time browsing through academic journals, the web, etc, until you identify some general area of interest. You might even identify some specific research project that you particularly want to undertake.

Once you have identified your chosen research area(s) and/or project, you should look for a potential supervisor who has appropriate interests and expertise. You should get in touch with that person and investigate the possibility of doing post graduate studies under his/her supervision. Some supervisors are in a position to propose specific research projects within their domain of expertise, while others might expect you to come up with a proposal for a research project on your own.

The relationship between student and supervisor is usually a reasonably close one, and it is important that the parties involved should get along. Because of this, there is a fairly widely accepted international protocol about how that relationship should proceed:

  • A potential supervisor has a perfect right to turn down your request for supervision without being obligated to give reasons for doing so. These reasons may be work-load related; the supervisor may simply not feel comfortable with you as a person, or may not feel at ease with your proposed project. Whatever the case, most academics will not easily reject the opportunity of supervising post graduate studies, so be assured that you will not be rejected for trivial reasons.
  • However, if your request is accepted, then the supervisor will continue to serve you in that capacity unless you withdraw and seek out someone else. Again, a student has a perfect right to withdraw in the early phases of a research project, perhaps moving on to some other supervisor. However, the student does not have the right to migrate work that might relate to a larger research project of one supervisor over to some other supervisor, unless there is general agreement amongst all parties about the matter. Thus, changing your supervisor may also mean starting over with a new research project.

Once you have found a supervisor, then and only then, should you start the more formal university application and registration processes.

  • You first have to go through the process of applying for admission.
  • Once your admission is formally approved by the department, then you will be able to register, and study fees will have to be paid.
  • You can go through these processes online, or you can visit the Engineering, Built Environment and IT faculty administration offices in the Engineering Building 1, floor 6.
  • Whatever formal route you choose for your application / registration, kindly inform the postgraduate coordinator of the fact that you will be applying, and indicate which person has agreed to be your supervisor. Applications received by the department that are not specifically linked to a supervisor in this way, will not be approved.

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