Academic Programs

The geophysics degree programme for AfricaArray is based in the School of Geosciences (SoG) ( at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa. The University of the Witwatersrand has an enrollment of 25,000 students and is one of Africa’s top universities with a long and distinguished tradition of supporting quality education and research. SoG has its origins in the South African School of Mines, which was established in Johannesburg in 1904, to service the booming gold mining industry centered on the world class deposits contained in the ancient sediments of the Witwatersrand Basin. Today, the School of Geosciences is one of the largest and most diverse academic Geoscience institutions in Africa.

The AfricaArray programme currently offers 4 geophysics degree programmes:

  1. B.Sc. Degree Programme
  2. B.Sc. Honours Degree Programme
  3. M.Sc. Degree Programme
  4. Ph.D. Degree Programme

The SoG at Wit is part of the Faculty of Science and therefore the structure of the degree programmes is guided by the Faculty of Science policies and rules (see also: The Faculty of Science offers a three-year undergraduate programme leading to a B.Sc. degree, followed by a one-year post-graduate programme leading to a B.Sc. (Honours) degree. M.Sc. and Ph.D. programmes also are offered. Additional information can be obtained from the Guidelines for Post-Graduate Students Handbook.

Undergraduate teaching in the SoG is designed around a broad-based geology curriculum, with an emphasis on hard rock and mining related geology. Specialist courses in Palaeontology, Mining Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry are offered at the B.Sc. Honours level.

Geophysics degrees are offered at the B.Sc. (honours; 4 th year)M.Sc. and Ph.D. levels. At the B.Sc. level, students interested in geophysics normally enroll in the geology B.Sc. programme and take a concentration of courses in physics and mathematics.

“Sandwich Programme”

To increase AfricaArray’s training capacity at the M.Sc. and Ph.D. levels, a “sandwich” programme has been set up whereby students will spend up to 6 months each year studying and doing research with a professor at one of the AfricaArray-affiliated Universities in the U.S. or Europe. The students will be co-supervised by staff members at Wits and at the host institutions within the U.S. or Europe, but degrees will be granted only from the University of the Witwatersrand. The sandwich programme should enable several post-graduate students to enroll each year. A list of AfricaArray faculty affiliates participating in the sandwich programme is given in the Supervisors section.

About SoG

The SoG incorporates the teaching departments of Geology, Geophysics and Palaeontology. In addition, the School houses two Research Institutes; the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research (including the Paleoanthropological Unit for Research and Exploration), and the Economic Geology Research Institute. Within the teaching departments, research is centered around specialist groups that include the Sedimentology Research Group, the Impact Cratering Research Group, the Bushveld Complex Research Group, the African Lithosphere Research Group and the Centre for Applied Mining and Exploration Geology.

The School currently employs 25 academic staff, 27 support staff, and 10 post-doctoral researchers, complemented by a host of emeritus and honorary staff involved in specialist teaching and research. Over 400 undergraduate students and 100 post-graduate students are enrolled. The faculty and student body is truly international, representing more than 20 countries worldwide and more than 10 from within Africa. The geophysics department is comprised of three full time academic staff, three part time lecturers, and eight honorary staff, covering the fields of seismology (theoretical, earthquake, mine, reflection), potential fields (gravity, magnetics, heat flow), paleomagnetism, geodynamics, and tectonics.

Research Programs

AfricaArray (AA) promotes applied and basic science relevant to the development and management of Africa’s natural resources. The scope of AA science is open ended: Projects include single investigators or collaborative teams, have a narrow focus or are broad and interdisciplinary, and have short or multi-year time frames.

AA science builds upon data from the AA observatories and from other sources. Students in the AA programme are involved as investigators, conducting the research as part of their training and academic studies.

While initial research projects have focused on understanding the structure of the Earth’s crust and mantle below southern and central Africa, the scope of AA science will change and expand as the partnership base grows and as new capabilities are added to the scientific observatories

Diversity Programs

AfricaArray is committed to enhancing the diversity of the geosciences workforce in both Africa and the U.S. by training students from formerly disadvantaged communities for careers in academic institutions, government and industry.

AfricaArray has developed programmes for students in both Africa and the U.S., and because the programme development has been somewhat different in Africa than in the U.S., we provide separate sections for African and the U.S. activities.