Study Geology in South Africa

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Geology Studies in South Africa

The study of geology can open up a whole world of professional opportunities.  Today people pursuing one of the many degree options in geology can earn a portion of their academic credits while studying and living for a time in a foreign country, including many programs now being offered in the beautiful nation of South Africa.
The Republic of South Africa is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent.  To its west and south, the country has a coastline measuring 1,739 miles (2,798 km), stretching along both the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  South Africa shares land borders with the countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north; Mozambique and Swaziland to the east; and within the country lies the enclave of Lesotho, which is completely surrounded by South African territory.  South Africa is the world’s 25th largest country in the world by area; and the 25th largest country in the world by population, with roughly 54 million inhabitants.
A multiethnic and multicultural country, South Africa encompasses a wide variety of customs, languages, traditions and religions.  Its diverse makeup is reflected in the constitution’s recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world.  Two of these languages are of European origin:  English and Afrikaans, the latter deriving from the Dutch and serving as the first language of most white and colored South Africans.  English is commonly used in government, education and commercial life, though it is only the fourth most-spoken first language.
South Africa is one of the most influential countries on the African continent.  The nation is ranked as an upper-middle economy by the World Bank, and is considered to be a newly industrialized country.  Its economy is the most developed and largest in Africa, and the 28th largest in the world.  Much of this success can be attributed to the country’s excellent system of higher education, which consistently outranks the systems present in other African countries.
Geology Education in South Africa
South Africa is home to several high-performing universities; both public and private institutions offering a wide range of programs and degree options, including undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field of geology, which roughly translates to the “study of the physical earth.” 
Undergraduate programs in geology, which typically lead to a Bachelor of Science degree, span roughly four years in duration for full-time students, while graduate degree offerings in the discipline, usually leading to a Master of Science degree, generally take two additional years to complete.  A few universities also offer doctoral programs in geology, intended for exceptional students who wish to continue their education and research.  The length of such programs varies depending on the type of program and the university.
The coursework involved in a geology degree program includes both core and elective courses.  Some of the classes students will be required to pass en route to their degree include:
  • Physical Geology
  • Mineralogy
  • Paleobiolog y
  • Petrography
  • Geologic Field Methods
  • Stratigraphy
  • Igneous/M etamorphic Petrogenesis
  • Structural Geology
  • Sedimentary Petrogenesis
  • Introduction to Geophysics
  • Field Camp
Most programs also require students to demonstrate proficiency in subjects such as Advanced Calculus, Physics and Chemistry.

In addition to the required coursework, students pursuing a Master’s Degree in Geology will also be responsible for developing an original thesis revolving around a specific geologic specialty and present and defend that thesis in front of a panel of university faculty and researchers.

Why Study Abroad in South Africa

In addition to boasting some of the finest universities on the African Continent, South Africa is also a land of great natural beauty, featuring miles of pristine coastline, picturesque savannahs and a stunning array of wildlife.  International students are welcomed with open arms into this friendly and fascinating country, and the various sites and attractions on display ensure that students will never be bored for a minute during the course of their study abroad adventure.  Below are just a few of the exciting places to visit should you elect to study and live for a time in South Africa.

Meerkat Adventures

Those who have visited South Africa highly recommend Meerkat Adventures as a fun and exciting tourist destination.  This unique wildlife encounter, known as the “sunrise experience,” is operated by the passionate conservationist Devey Glinister on his De Zeekoe Farm, located just 9 kilometers west of the town of Oudtshoorn. His passion for the endearing animals comes shining through in his unique meerkat experience, where visitors can get up close and personal with a variety of native African wildlife species.

Genadendal Mission Station

Situated roughly 5 kilometers west of the city of Greyton, Genadendal Mission Station is the oldest mission station in South Africa.  The station was founded in 1738, and was, for a brief time, the largest settlement in the colony after Cape Town. Today Genadendal Mission Station has a population of about 3,500, but what it lacks in population it more than makes up for in history and architecture.  To arrive at the station, simply take Route 406 and head straight down Main Road until you arrive at the cluster of national monuments around the Church Square

Apartheid Museum

For those interested in the history of Apartheid, the Apartheid Museum is definitely a must-see attraction when visiting South Africa.  Illustrating the rise and fall of South Africa’s era of segregation and oppression, the museum evokes bitter-sweet memories of a misguided institution and the people who vigorously opposed it, including the recently-passed Nelson Mandela.  The Apartheid Museum uses film, text, audio and live accounts to provide a chilling insight into the architecture and implementation of the apartheid system, as well as inspiring accounts of the struggle towards democracy.

Dias Museum Complex

Offering an excellent and enlightening experience, the Dias Museum Complex features a number of unique and very educational exhibits.  Some of the things people can see when visiting the complex include the spring where Dias watered the postal tree; the 1786 Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; VOC) granary; a shell museum, featuring some truly interesting aquarium tanks; and a local history museum.  The highlight of the Dias Museum Complex is the replica of the caravel that the explorer Dias used on his 1488 voyage of discovery.

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