Brand new jacket for NWU honours programme in Medical Sociology

Annette Willemse -- Fri, 11/20/2015 - 15:13

Brand new jacket for NWU honours programme in Medical Sociology

As from 2016 the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) will be offering a unique honours programme in Medical Sociology.


The programme will introduce an application element with regards to Group Dynamics, making it the first of its kind in South Africa – and representing yet another feather in the cap of the Vaal Triangle Campus.  Throughout history, human beings have been interested in and deeply concerned with the effects of the social environment on the health of individuals and the groups to which they belong. Today, it is clear that social factors play a critically important role in health, as the greatest threats to the health and well-being of individuals stem largely from unhealthy lifestyles, high-risk behaviour, and disadvantaged living conditions.

Sociology's interest in medicine - as a unique system of human social behaviour, and medicine's recognition that sociology can help health practitioners to better understand their patients (and thereby provide improved forms of health care), have begun to bring about a convergence of the mutual interests of the two disciplines. More and more, medical sociologists are being invited to join the staffs of medical institutions and to participate in medical research projects.

More about the honours programme in Medical Sociology

According to Mr Pierre van Niekerk, a lecturer in the School of Behavioural Sciences, sociology by itself is a very broad field and by nature an all-inclusive subject. “Sociology provides the understanding of social thinking, behaviour, cohesion, dynamics and the direction of social development,” explains Van Niekerk and adds that the honours degree in Medical Sociology will empower the sociologist to develop and introduce new programmes that will promote health within communities as well as the workplace.

By introducing the element of Group Dynamics, future sociologists will be in a position to promote social development through the implementation of sustainable and achievable programmes that will in turn foster greater community participation. “The extensive growth of sociological literature in academic medicine is further evidence of the rising status of the medical sociologists,” says Van Niekerk and argues that although a considerable amount of work remains to be done Medical Sociologists – at this time, are in the enviable position of influencing the development of an exciting, significant, and relatively new field of expertise and knowledge.

The added benefit of the application of Group Dynamics

Through the added application of Group Dynamics, students will be able to demonstrate- in a comprehensive and systematic manner, a comprehensive health care plan whilst being well-informed about current developments and trends within the field of Medical Sociology.

Students will furthermore be able to function supportively as a health care worker and be able to facilitate social health training to implement health care systems on national, community and personal level.

Who should consider this degree?

The target market for prospective students include anyone working in the health sector (e.g. hospitals, clinics, health NGOs), individuals who want to improve their existing health related careers, and students who just finished their undergraduate studies within the field of behavioural sciences.

Mr van Niekerk explains that should a student not have Sociology as major for his/her undergraduate bachelor's degree, knowledge of a related subject and/or job experience and/or related training or in-service training by a recognised institution can be considered as admission criteria after suitable evaluation, and the Subject Head may require the student to acquire the relevant sociological knowledge.

Selection process and closing date for applications

The following selection criteria should be noted:

  • A student must have obtained an average of 65% in the three year BA degree wherein Sociology was one of his/her majors to be considered to be selected for entry into the programme.
  • Entry into the programme is subject to Departmental selection processes and capacity.
  • The minimum duration of the curriculum is one year.

The cut-off date for applications is 30 November 2015. For more information please contact Ms Lauren Collin on 016 910 3513 or send her an e-mail: