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Communication Science

About Communication Science

Since its establishment in 1969, the Department of Communication Science of the University of South Africa has grown considerably and distinguished itself as a dynamic and credible leader in the field of communication science teaching.  The Department is committed to making a difference in the lives of students and to contribute to the development of society by means of our teaching and research.

Students and staff

An academic staff of 45 is responsible for providing education to an annual average of 30 000 undergraduate student registrations, 260 honours student registrations and more than 64 Masters and doctoral students. More than 80% of our students are from the previously disadvantaged communities, while student numbers from the rest of Africa are increasing.  On an undergraduate level the Department is offering a BA in Communication Science, a National Diploma in Public Relations Management as well as serving as a major for other BA programmes.  The honours programmes focus on Media Studies and Integrated Organisational Communication.  The MA and Doctoral studies consist   of a research project.

Distance learning

The Department employs various strategies to take the distance out of our teaching – from utilising satellite broadcasts, social media and technology enhanced assessment to old fashioned personal appointments with students and face-to-face discussion classes. 

Publications and seminars

The Department is renowned for its academic prominence and issues the bi-annual accredited subject journal Communicatio (South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research), since 1974. The Department was also responsible for the publication of the well-known series of research monographs Communicamus, a text book series under the title Course Books in Communication, and recently, three volumes of Media Studies under the leadership of Prof Pieter Fourie.  Various other text books that are also used at other universities have its origin in the Department with topics ranging from introductions to communication studies to intercultural and international communication as well as a comprehensive text book written for Organisational Communication 

Academic excellence

Although the Department is widely acknowledged for their teaching excellence and providing the South African community with text books in the discipline, it is also a leading research institution. Throughout the years the Department has distinguished itself in terms of its focus on communication theory and research methodology, and is known for its contribution in the fields of the phenomenology of communication, organisational communication with the emphasis on communication by objectives, discourse theory and semiotics.

The Department is continuously doing substantive research on distance education and the teaching of communication through the means of distance education.  A series of academic seminars is held annually, providing lecturers of the Department and guest lecturers the opportunity to present information on research results, course developments and current communication development issues.  Staff members of the Department have been recipients of various awards in the past and these include the Chancellors Prize and Principals Prize for research as well as the Excellence in Tuition awards from Unisa.


The Department houses the oldest student organisation at Unisa – the Communication Students Association (Comsa).  This organisation is very active and lives their motto – “to bridge the gap ...”  between staff and students, between theory and practice and between students and industry.  To do this, they organise workshops for training practical skills, publish a house-journal, having seminars and conferences on topical issues and organising visits to industry players to expose students to the realities of real life.

The Department also initiated the establishment of Unisa Radio.  The purpose of the radio station is to create a community of students and staff that everyone will be able to identify with globally.  This will also provide training opportunities for student-volunteers in the area of broadcasting, journalism and management.