Home > Study with CfTS > The Transport Studies Programme

The Transport Studies Programme

The programme at a glance

The programme at the UCT Centre of Transport Studies offers degrees specialising in transport studies, with a specific focus on the planning and management of urban passenger transport systems.

The primary aim is to produce graduates from a range of undergraduate disciplines with the necessary knowledge and skills to engage effectively with the challenge of creating affordable, efficient, sustainable, safe, equitable and environmentally sound urban transport systems, and to contribute to the implementation of contemporary policy directives.

Curriculum content is cross-disciplinary in orientation and exposes students to a broad range of the analytical, evaluative, planning and management issues they are likely to encounter in the field.

Why transport studies

The legislative and policy environment established in the 1990s by the first democratically elected government of South Africa represented a watershed in the development of the Republic’s transport policy.

Perhaps the most notable and important policy change was an explicit prioritisation of public transportation, and the needs of those travellers dependent upon these and associated modes, particularly walking. This change necessitated the development of new, and in some instances different, competencies in the field of transport system planning and management. In particular, the transport sector needs professionals better equipped to respond to those policy directives deemed necessary to prioritise and improve public transport, e.g. the integration of land use and transport systems, road space management and mode integration.

It was this policy backdrop, and its implications for transport planning and engineering practices, that motivated the establishment of the Transport Studies Programme within the UCT Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment (EBE) in 2002.

Since then, as CfTS footprint and collaborations have expanded, the Centre has incorporated a broader geo-political space in our programme to issues and developments outside of South Africa. This is reflected in the content, discussions and presenters of our courses.

Study options

Postgraduate degrees: The Centre for Transport Studies offers a range of postgraduate qualifications, either with a focus on coursework or a focus on research.

 Degree options

Occasional studies / CPD courses: The programme's core courses are open to occasional students and practitioners.

 CPD options

Programme structure

The Transport Studies Programme is structured to enable the courses within it to be offered to the widest possible range of students, including students based at other tertiary institutions and occasional or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) students. It is designed to be accessible to people in full-time employment as well as full-time students.

Courses are structured on a ‘block release’ basis in which lectures are concentrated into one week and sandwiched between periods of self-study. 

Each course comprises four phases totalling approximately 200 hours of study:

  • a pre-contact period of five weeks, involving some 30 hours of preparatory reading and assignments;
  • a week of intensive contact time at UCT, comprising 40-50 hours of formal lectures and class assignments;
  • a two-hour course test (on the Monday following the contact week), intended to evaluate students’ understanding of selected aspects of the material they have been exposed to during the contact week, and
  • a post-contact period of seven weeks, involving an assignment or assignments requiring about 100 hours of work.

Students are expected to attend the contact period on a full-time basis, which will require them to be resident in Cape Town for its duration given that the daily timetable during this period will generally occupy the hours from 08h00 to 17h00. At other times students may, or may not, be resident in Cape Town.

The relatively short contact periods require that students are able to undertake considerable periods of self-directed study, in the form of reading and assignments. UCT's Vula portal, an open-source collaboration and learning system, is used to facilitate resource exchanges during periods of self-directed study.

Core courses are offered every year. Work on MEng and MPhil 60-credit minor dissertations follows satisfactory completion of core coursework requirements. Students can complete their elective coursework at any time during the period they are registered. Students (other than occasional or CPD students) are required to register for at least two courses (other than the minor dissertation) a year except when only one course is required to complete their degree.

The curricula of the various degree options can be completed within two years. Students are required by the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment to complete their studies within three years of the date of their initial registration