Social Theory Short Course: South Africa


The Global Labour Univeristy (GLU) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg is proud to announce the call for applications to the Social Theory 2019 short course for trade unionists and labour activists living and working in South Africa. The aim of the course is to help participants develop capacity for critical thinking and to engage analytically about labour and labour-related issues. The primary goal is to assist students in their critical thinking and ability to analyse the complex world in which their unions and worker organisations operate. The certificate course addresses key debates in political economy, development, democracy, labour (and the various forms of work and workers), as well as systemic alternatives. 

On completion of the course, participants should be able to: 

  • Apply conceptual and analytical frameworks in developing union analyses and strategy
  • Lead relevant discussions, collect information, analyse problems, make judgements based on analysis, and effectively communicate them; and
  • Develop individual capacity and competence in academic reading and analysis.

The course is divided into four themed modules: 

  • Global Capitalism and African Political Economy
  • Labour, Development, and Democracy
  • Systemic Alternatives
  • Workers, Vulnerable Workers, and Labour Migration

Throughout each of these modules a focus on trade unions and their engagements on each of these themes will be highlighted. In addition, each module will integrate themes of gender, ecology, international solidarity, and trade union strategy. Each theme will highlight the strategic approaches by trade unions.

Target Group

Labour activists and trade unionists from all federations, unions, and worker organisations in South Africa are encouraged to apply.

The course is run as part of the Global Labour University programme, a network that has successfully established postgraduate academic study opportunities for labour activists from all over the world. These are offered at five universities in Africa, Asia, South and North America and Europe with the aim of strengthening the intellectual and strategic capacity of workers and their organisations and fostering stronger working relationships among trade unions. 

Modules are taught by experienced teaching staff from the University of the Witwatersrand and other guest lecturers.

Practical Considerations

Certification: Upon successful completion of the training programme, participants will receive a short-course certificate of competence. Successful completion means full attendance and participation in all module activities as set by the Module Coordinators. 

Classes: The courses will run from 1st March to 30th March 2019 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Classes run from 08h30-17h00 each day as set by the Module Coordinators. Group-work projects may also be set by Module Coordinators outside class time. Graduation is scheduled for 26th April, 2019.

Financing and Scholarships

The Social Theory course receives support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). As there are a limited number of scholarships available to course participants, not all who are admitted will be funded. 

The scholarships covers the following: 

  • Accommodation; and/or
  • Tuition fees at the University of the Witwatersrand

Day-to-day living expenses are the responsibility of the participants. All transport costs, including parking on University campuses, have to be paid for in full by the participants or an organisation on their behalf. 

Estimated Costs:

Accommodation 9300.00ZAR
Tuition Fees 7000.00ZAR

Admission requirements:

Matriculation or school leaving certificate; current employment with, or membership of a trade union, labour organisation, or labour movement; and support from employer and union. Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • you are a trade unionist (in full-time employment and/or voluntary involvement) or are otherwise active in the labour movement;
  • you are committed to employing your new skills in labour-related issues;
  • you are motivated to pass on your acquired knowledge to others;
  • you have at least a School Leaving Certificate (in exceptional circumstances we can also recognise prior learning for those who do not have school leaving certificates);
  • those with a Bachelor’s degree are also encouraged to apply;
  • you have at least three years’ labour-related work experience;
  • you are responsible or will become responsible for labour-related policies in an organisation representing workers or dealing with labour issues;
  • you have a good command of English, are able to express yourself in writing and willing to participate actively in classes; and
  • you have support from your employer to attend the course as per the times set above.

Language Requirements

The course is taught in English and participants must be fluent in English.

Application Process

To complete the application process please submit the following documents (in English):

  • CV
  • Personal Motivational letter
  • A letter of Recommendation by your Union/Organisation
  • Copies of your school-leaving or academic certificates


For enquiries, please contact Mr. Warren McGregor:

Email: GLU.SouthAfrica(at)

Telephone: 011 717 4479/4443

Facsimile: 011 717 4459

Closing Date: Friday, 30 November 2018

NO incomplete applications will be processed

Application Submission:

Please submit application documents via email to GLU.SouthAfrica(at) or via courier to: 

Mr Warren McGregor 
Global Labour University South Africa 
Robert Sobukwe Block, Room 203 
School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand
Private Bag X3 
Johannesburg, WITS 2050