Welcome to Stellenbosch University



Psychology Department, Stellenbosch University


Psychology Honours

1. How many Stellenbosch students do they accept for honours and how many from other campuses?

We do not have a quota system, but the majority of our students tend to have completed their undergraduate studies at Stellenbosch University.


2. What marks are taken into account for my honours application? (i.e. third year modules or all modules, first to third year)?

The selection is based on an average of all your third year marks. When we have to choose between candidates with similar third marks, we do look at the consistency of psychology marks across the three years.


3. If I have a separate honours degree in another Social Science will this enhance my chances of being accepted into the honours programme?

It is considered as extra experience and may come into play if we have to choose between two candidates with the same third year mark.


4. Do you have to do community service in order to qualify for honours? Does it  improve your chances of getting selected for the honours programme or are students only selected on the basis of academic achievement?

No. Academic achievement is the most important component of this selection process, but any other experience may come into play if we have to choose between two candidates with the same third year mark.


5. What kind of community work would better our chances of getting into honours?

We have no requirements in this regard.


6. Should I write a motivation when applying for honours in psychology?

No, you don’t need to.


7. Is there an honours direction involving child psychology?

We offer an honours module on Child Psychology. The honours programme consists of various specialist modules, but does not have an overall focus.


8. How do I get more involved in the psychology department to increase my chances of getting into honours?

You can contact individual lecturers and ask them if they can offer you any opportunities to be involved in their research or community work.


9. Can Psychology students do an honours in a wide variety of subjects not directly linked with psychology, for example marketing?

You will have to find out from other departments and faculties what their access criteria are.


10. What was the average percentage obtained by the current honours students, in their 3rd year?

I don’t know the average, but very few students get selected with a third year average of less than 72%.


11. What does the honours application process entail?

You simply apply for postgraduate studies. If you’re a Stellenbosch University student, all your academic records will already be on file.


12. What are the job options for the different Psychology honours programs? What will I be able to do after I’ve received my honours?

There are very few job opportunities directly linked to an honours in psychology. Doing an honours is really a commitment to pursue further postgraduate training in psychology beyond the honours, and it prepares you for that.


13. What is the average and minimum time it takes to complete an honours?

You have to complete the degree in a year.


14. Can one do honours part time?



15. Will it help if I did my PGCE in child psychology, to get into honours?

No – but it will not count against you. Any extra experience may come into play if we have to choose between two candidates with the same third year mark.


16. What different honours courses are there in Psychology and which of these does the University of Stellenbosch offer?

In psychology we offer only one honours programme; it consists of different modules which you can look up on the departmental website. The departments of Educational Psychology and Organisational Psychology also offer honours programmes, but they function autonomously from us, in other faculties.


17. If one doesn’t get into honours the first time, can they take a year to improve their third year marks to apply for the following year?



18. If I study a completely different degree such as BCom, but take psychology as an elective, will I be able to do Psychology post-grad?

Yes, if you have completed Psychology 3.


19. I would like to do honours in genetics; however, my third year psychology and genetics modules clash on the time table- is it possible to still take the additional genetics modules and find my own way to make it work?

Possibly – but it is best to talk to the third year coordinators about this.


For further questions regarding the psychology honours programme, please contact

Prof. Desmond Painter [].


Psychology Clinical Masters

What are the requirements to get into the Clinical Masters programme?

Academic abilities: We considered undergraduate and graduate marks, as well as the quality of writing in the essays. The yearbook of the university states that the minimum requirement for a Master’s degree is obtaining 65% at Honours’ level. This means that we are legally bound not to even consider applicants whose marks were below 65% at Honours’ level. In most years, the average percentage of short-listed applicants at Honours’ level is close to 75%. This is an indication of how tough the academic competition is. We actually recommend that strong candidates consider repeating Honours courses to improve their marks.

Community experience: We expect applicants to both (a) have been involved in community work in substantial ways and (b) have the ability to reflect on how this has impacted on them. We also are looking for candidates who have sophisticated insights into the socio-political issues that inform psychological practice in South Africa. In other words, we expect candidates to have community experience and to be able to theorize it.

Counselling experience: It is considered to be an advantage if an applicant already (a) had the opportunity to do counselling (group, individual or community); (b) is able to reflect on how they have experienced this on a personal level (intellectually and emotionally); and (c) is able to understand this mutual process theoretically.

Socio-political awareness: We consider a clear understanding of the complexity of the South African context and the diversity of its people as a prerequisite for participating in the programme. It is therefore not sufficient to merely have community and counselling

experience: it is necessary to also understand these experiences in the socio-political context of South Africa and to be committed to make a contribution in South Africa or in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Self-awareness and self-reflection: By carefully examining referees’ reports and personal essays, we do consider the extent to which applicants are able to reflect on their own lives. We expect candidates to show a sophisticated understanding of how different factors in their lives have shaped them. We are not looking for specific kinds of experiences or a specific number of experiences: we are interested in a demonstrated capacity to reflect on experiences in a psychological way. In the past we have often felt that we did not know a candidate at all after reading his/her application. We are actually trying to get a sense and understanding of how applicants function on an emotional level. If you can reflect on yourself in this way, you should also be able to consider others in psychological ways.

Personality functioning: We need to be clear that our short-listed applicants are emotionally stable and relatively confident. While we know that most applicants would have experienced loss, have suffered or have been traumatised in certain ways, we also need to know that losses, suffering and trauma are being dealt with in adaptive ways. We are aware of the fact that most high functioning people often feel anxious, sad and angry – it is very helpful if candidates can identify such feelings and discuss how they cope with them. We also noted that in many there applications there was no way to assess how applicants function in relationship with others – in a field where relationships are of central importance, it is crucial to make sure that we get a sense of you in relationship.


1. What type of volunteer work would be most valued for acceptance into Masters (clinical)? What requirements (other than academics) are there for Masters Clinical?

See above. Any kind of work experience is valued. Volunteer experience in a related field to Psychology is also valued but it might not be fair to say ‘most valued’.


2. Do they look at honours marks only, or also 1-3rd year marks?

We consider all academic marks – across undergraduate years and all postgraduate years.


3. What’s the major difference between Clinical and Counselling psychology? Are the requirements to get into Honours/ Masters the same?

We currently do not offer a Master’s in Counselling Psychology.



4. Can you do a Master’s in Educational Psychology with a general honours in Psychology?

Refer to the requirements in the University handbook for an MA in Educational Psychology


5. Do you do your internship during Honours, Master or both?

All students need to complete an internship after having completed Year 1of the Master’s degree.


6. What is the route one would take to pursue a career in Forensic Psychopathology?

Stellenbosch University does not offer courses in Forensic Psychopathology.


7. When do we specialise in our preferred psychology field?

After having qualified as a Clinical Psychologist:

* 1 year at Stellenbosch University

* 1 year internship

* 1 year community service

* Health Professions Council of South Africa Board exam


8. What different Masters courses are there in Psychology and which of these does the University of Stellenbosch offer?

Currently we only offer training in Clinical Psychology


For further questions regarding the psychology masters programme, please contact

Prof. Mark Tomlinson [] or Dr Elmien Lesch [].


Tutoring Psychology

1. How do you become a Psychology 114 & 144 tutor?/ What are the criteria?

Postgraduate Psychology students (H, M, D) are eligible to become a tutor. There are no pre-described criteria, but during the selection process we consider academic achievements, leadership positions, previous tutoring experiences and admin and managerial skills.


2. Where can I receive personal tutoring for Psychology 144?

The 144 tutors, outside of their capacity as departmental representatives, offer individual classes after hours (this is usually done at a fee determined between the tutor and student). In addition, students are welcome to make appointments with the tutorial coordinator for extra clarification (this is free and not as in detail as extra individual classes).


Community Service & Opportunities

1. Are there legitimate places to build up volunteering hours near Stellenbosch?

If your plan is to build up volunteering hours with the aim of getting into the M Clinical Psychology program, the following should be kept in mind when looking for a “legitimate place”.


Yes, volunteering increases your chance to be accepted for the Clinical program. But why? The panel wants to see that through volunteering, you…

* Have engaged in learning opportunities that contributed to your life experience and expanded your worldview.

* Were exposed to a diversity of people and life experiences in the South African context, and expanded your ability to relate to and interact with diverse individuals.

* Provided you with some knowledge or insight into the psychology practice of South Africa.

* Have the ability to reflect on how these experiences have impacted on you. As mentioned above, the panel are looking for candidates who have sophisticated insights into the socio-political issues that inform psychological practice in South Africa. In other words, we expect candidates to have community experience, to personally grow from it, and to be able to meaningfully reflect on it.


2. Are there any voluntary programmes that I can participate in? And where can I do community work?

Here is a list of community projects that are currently being run in the SU Psychology Department. If you are interested in participating in one of these projects, please contact the respective person.


1. Dr Elmien Lesch: Research area: Intimate/close relationships (this includes romantic, family and friendship relationships)


The various M and PhD students under my supervision often need fieldworkers and qualitative interviewers to assist with various aspects of data collection and interventions in a diversity of local communities. Participating in their projects in this way provides undergraduate students with valuable knowledge and skills related to intervention and research in the intimate/close relationship field in a diversity of South African communities. You can contact me ( throughout the year to enquire about such opportunities.



You can also contact MGD (Matie Community Service) or refer to the list of societies at SU for community projects running near campus. Please note that there are numerous other organisations or NGO’s in the surrounding areas for you to get involved. Refer to question 26 for things to keep in mind when choosing a place to volunteer at.


3. How must I record my community service hours and how do I prove that I have served them?

Ask for a signed reference letter with the official letterhead of the organisation you volunteered at. It is important for you to obtain proof in writing of your community service hours as such documents may be required for future applications.


4. Is there a specific type of volunteer work that is preferred if you would like to become an Educational psychologist?

Questions related to Educational Psychology can be directed to the Education Department of SU.