College of Humanities
Teaching and Learning Office

Bachelor of Social Science Extended Curriculum

Access programmes are not unique to universities in South Africa but may be found around the world (O’Reilly, 2008; Higher Education Authority, 2006). Equity and participation concerns for marginalised groups in societies characterized by discrimination along such dimensions as gender, class, caste, ethnicity, language or religious backgrounds have led to the provision of access to higher education in several different countries. The South African Education White Paper of 1997 articulates the transformation imperative in Higher Education:

South Africa’s transition from apartheid and minority rule requires (that) existing practices and values are viewed anew and rethought in terms of their fitness for a new era…..In South Africa today, the challenge is to redress past inequalities and to transform the higher education system to serve a new social order, to meet pressing national needs, and to respond to new realities and opportunities (Department of Education, 1997: page 7)

The Bachelor of Social Science Extended Curriculum

An extended curriculum programme is a first degree or diploma programme that incorporates substantial foundational provision which is additional to the coursework prescribed for the standard programme. The foundational provision incorporated must be (a) equivalent to one or two semesters of full-time study, (b) designed to articulate effectively with the regular elements of the programme, and (c) formally planned, scheduled and regulated as an integral part of the programme.’ (DoE, 2006)

In other words, the programme is an alternative way of entering the University.

The Bachelor of Social Science Extended Curriculum degree is popularly known as BSS4. Access program College of humanities is in both Howard College and the Pietermaritzburg Campus. It is an alternative degree that is designed and caters for students from disadvantage background who have not realised their academic potential due to disadvantaged educational backgrounds. It gives opportunity to students who did their high school studies in school that are underequipped mostly located in disadvantaged places. The underequipped schools are described by the Department of Education as quantile 1, 2 and 3.

The BSS4 ‘Academic Support’ model

*The idea of ‘Academic Support’ (AS) understood itself as ‘filling in gaps’ from students’ poor socio-economic backgrounds – a ‘deficit’ model.

*The University understands that Access Students are to have ‘language problems’ that could be addressed in separate, non-mainstreamed classes, often involving the overt teaching of grammar rules and conventions.

*AS programmes were “developed to assist students without the necessary background to be able to benefit …from lectures and tutorials” (Torr 1991: 624 in Boughey 2012).

*Students are understood to require language or academic writing skills, reading skills, critical thinking skills or even life skills to handle their new environment.

*Foundational modules that are non-credit-bearing from Access Programme are set up to provide what is missing. The Programme has specially appointed psychologists to meet the students’ psycho-social needs, providing classes, for example, in ‘sexuality’, ‘time management’ or ‘budgeting’.

BSS4 Curriculum Structure

* The programme creates a foundation for academia in the Humanities.

* The Access Programme is externally funded, by the Department of Higher Education (DHET). The Programme admits just over 450 students per year for both Pietermaritzburg and Howard College campus as per requirement by DHET. In 2020 alone, the Howard College campus has about 263 students, and Pietermaritzburg campus about 210 students. 

* Students do core modules and mainstream modules in the programme.

* Core modules are Academic Literacy, English Language Development, Basic Computer Literacy, Basic Numeracy and Exploring Literacies in the Humanities.

  • Students who have obtained Level 3 or more on Pure Mathematics, or level 4 or more on Mathematical Literacy in Matric should not select and or register for the Basic Numeracy module (BNMR010)

* Students do one mainstream module in the first semester and two mainstream modules in the second semester. The mainstream modules that are offered in the Access year are Sociology 101/102, Psychology 101/102 and Politics 101/102.

* In addition to the mainstream modules that students do, augmenting modules in the respective modules are offered to students. The student must proceed with one pack that was chosen during 1st semester (e.g. PSYC095 and PSYC101), and choose one pack between SOCY095/SOCY101 and POLS095/POLS101.

*When the former Universities of Durban-Westville and Natal came together in 2004, a key principle and core value the newly merged University of KwaZulu-Natal quickly embraced was to promote access to learning that would expand educational and employment opportunities for all.

*Both ancestor institutions brought a shared tradition of providing special programmes to provide access among students, especially African students who did not meet entry requirements, to the university.

Humanities Access Programme Co-ordinator (Head of Department) (Howard College)

Name               : Skhumbuzo Mtolo

Phone              : 031 260 7141

Email                :

Humanities Access Programme Counsellor (Howard College)

Name               : Nthabiseng Mofokeng

Phone              : 031 260 2706

Email                :

Humanities Access Programme Administrator (Howard College)

Name               : Miss Mbali Buthelezi

Phone              : 031 260 3337

Email                :           

BSS4 Pietermaritzburg Contacts

Humanities Access Programme Co-ordinator (Head of Department) (PMB)

Name               : Feruzi Ngwamba

Phone              : 033 260 5977

Email                :

Humanities Access Programme Counsellor (PMB)

Name               : Sibongiseni Mthembu

Phone              : 033 260 5754

Email                :

Humanities Access Programme Administrator (PMB)

Name               :  S’phindile Shandu

Phone              : 033 260 6464

Email                :