Academic Programmes

B.Sc. Honours Degree Programme

Entry Requirements

Students that have successfully completed a B.Sc. general degree in geology, mathematics, applied mathematics, physics, engineering or computer science are eligible to apply to the B.Sc. Honours degree programme in geophysics. The number of places in the B.Sc. Honours programme is limited, and entry into the programme is competitive and based on academic excellence. Currently the total number of places available in the Geophysics honours programme is 15 per year. The School of Geosciences will make available a number of places each year to non-South African students that wish to participate in the AfricaArray programme.

To be eligible for admission into the B.Sc. Honours programme in Geophysics, students must meet certain prerequisites. It is normally expected that pre-requisite courses are passed with a mark of at least 60% in any two of the following subject areas:

Subject to the approval of the Head of School, certain topics may be replaced by topics chosen from relevant courses offered by other departments in the University of the Witwatersrand.

Students that obtained a B.Sc. or equivalent degree from a University other than Wits, and wishing to enter the AfricaArray BSc Honors programme in geophysics, will have to present their degree certificates to the Head of School, and may be required to do additional work before being allowed into the programme. If a student has no credits in Geology when registering for the Geophysics Honours programme, she/he will be admitted if she/he is registered at the same time for a first course in Geology. Special conditions for enrollment apply to non-English speakers (contact Prof. Paul Dirks for information:

Application Material

Application material can be downloaded from the University of the Witwatersrand Postgraduate website Additional information about the Geophysics B.Sc. honours programme can be obtained from the course coordinator: Dr Mike Jones; Tel +27-(0)11-717 6628; e-mail:

Curriculum Topics

The B.Sc. honours programme is structured so as to provide graduates with basic training in applied geophysics appropriate for careers in the petroleum, mining, geothermal and water resources industries. At the same time, the programme covers more fundamental aspects of geophysics, providing graduates with a broad background. Successful completion of the BSc honours programme is considered to be the minimum academic requirement for a professional geophysicist.

The topics listed below are currently included in the curriculum, although the exact content of the programme may vary somewhat from year to year.

Research Project (Honours Project)

The capstone of the B.Sc. honors progamme is a research project, which takes roughly two months to complete. It is a compulsory component of the honours programme, and it is considered to be essential in preparing the student for future independent research or project work. The subject of the research work can be drawn from a wide range of research activities, and a choice of project is normally given to the students. Research projects can be motivated by the students themselves, and can include projects developed from an industry internship or vacation employment project.

Examinations and Determination of Marks

The course is structured to include formal lectures, selected reading and practical assignments, seminars and tutorials. The year-end mark and examination marks are obtained by weighting each topic according to its duration within the context of the programme.

Examinations are held twice yearly. Topics completed by mid-year are included in an examination in June. The remaining topics are included an examination in November. To graduate, a minimum average mark of 50% is required, however each student must obtain a minimum mark of 40% in any one topic. External examiners drawn either from industry and/or other universities monitor the standard of the examinations and the marking of the exam papers.

The final mark is made up as follows: