Welcome to the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies. Our extra-mural education programme is about educational and intellectual activities that enrich the mind. The aim is to stimulate the mind in areas which traditionally is left out of adult formal education. UCT’s Summer School is precisely such a programme. It contributes to the development of an informed citizenry and a culture of democracy. Summer School is a festival of knowledge and ideas  where members of the general public experience what it means to be a student of the Universe in the broad sense of the word. In this way our work contributes directly to the university’s obligations to society, one of which is to stimulate critical debate and discussion.

But we also offer, for those who need a more skills or vocationally based course, practical courses in art, language and writing. For more information visit our short course page. Some of us are also challenged by a fast-changing digital world. We also host regular talks on new developments in technology such as Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and coding.

Upcoming Courses

Geneaology: researching South African family history

Dr Eleanor Damon


Date: Saturday 15 June

Time: 10:00–13:00

Venue: Lecture Theatre 3, Kramer Law Building, University of Cape Town


Course fee: R450; Staff and students R225


 Maximum: 25 participants


Booking is via Webtickets: 


Geneaology: researching South African family history: Dr Eleanor Damon (webtickets.co.za)


This beginners course is aimed at those with an interest in genealogy who have little or no knowledge of research in this field. The course will cover the following:

1. Definition of genealogy
2. Genealogy in context
3. Documentation methods
4. Using of resources
5. Ethics and the Popi Act
6. Use of pictures
7. Use of abbreviations and notation
8. Primary, secondary and oral resources



All the seminars below are stand-alone offerings that have grown out of workshops on the art and craft of editing book manuscripts. Their purpose is to provide more detailed accounts of how to handle specific kinds of manuscripts. Participants don't have to have completed my previous courses to participate, and can attend any or all of these seminars. Suitable for both novices and those who have experience of publishing processes.

Publishing in the 21st century: shape-shifting at speed

Worldwide, traditional publishing models are in a state of transformation (some would call it disarray). Getting specialist and niche books published can be especially daunting or confusing. But because publishers and authors tend to be a canny and resourceful bunch, a variety of hybrid publishing models have sprung up, along with alternative models of book production. This two-hour seminar will focus on what goes into making a book (both print or online version) from nose to tail, and what kinds of partnerships and enterprising arrangements authors can enter into with traditional, indie, boutique and hybrid publishers, printers and distributors. We'll also talk about when and how to make the jump to going it alone (although you'll still need a team, and to know how to work with that team).

Date: 28 May

Time: 18:00–20:00

Platform: Zoom

Course fee: R400; Staff and students R200

Booking is via Webtickets: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1546192878

How to edit commercial fiction manuscripts

Date: 12 June

Time: 18:00–20:00

Platform: Zoom

Course fee: R400; Staff and students R200

Booking is via Webtickets: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1546192627

This two-hour seminar will outline the editing approaches and techniques for working with a range of fiction genres as an editor, including how to cater to specific audiences and markets, and how to meet the requirements for a satisfying formula without being formulaic (you can see why this is quite the balancing act!). It's aimed at professional editors and others who would like to expand their technical editing know-how; authors of genre/trade/commercial fiction may also find it useful to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes when genre/commercial fiction is edited and published. 

How to work with short stories as an editor

Date: 26 June

Time: 18:00–20:00

Platform: Zoom

Course fee: R400; Staff and students R200

Booking is via Webtickets: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1546193024

This two-hour seminar will offer an introduction to that rewarding challenge: how to develop and edit short stories. The great thing about working on short stories is that they often operate as incubators for novice authors and editors to develop their skills. Short stories are less daunting (to the author, the editor and the reader) than longer forms of fiction, but they require as much attention to detail -- and so they provide an excellent opportunity to gain confidence and skills that can be transferred to other forms of fiction. We'll draw on my experience of working with the Short Story Day Africa platform to show how editing short stories can be an exciting way to nurture fresh talent and projects. 


How to edit memoir writing

 Date: 10 July

Time: 18:00–20:00

Platform: Zoom

Course fee: R400; Staff and students R200

Booking is via Webtickets: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1546193173

Fiction needs to be plausible – but in real life, anything can (and does) happen. This two-hour seminar will examine how editing memoir writing (whether in book form, essay/s or autobiographical fiction) differs – especially in emphasis – from other kinds of editing and copyediting. We’ll look at what motivates the author, ethical (and legal) issues, how to structure the messiness of lived experience into a ‘story’, and the biggest challenge of all: author support and management. This will hopefully be useful to memoir editors, those who run memoir writing workshops, and authors themselves busy with memoir writing.

Bio: Helen Moffett is an experienced editor, author, academic and poet. She has authored, co-authored, or collated over 20 books, ranging from university textbooks to poetry to historical fiction to environmental handbooks. She has worked in publishing for 30 years, and has been lucky enough to work with some of the most dazzling authors in Africa and elsewhere. In 2019, she was named one of the top ten literary editors and curators from the African continent.

She has been training African writers and academics in writing, editing and self-editing skills since 2000, and for four years, she headed the Short Story Day Africa Editing Mentoring programme, an initiative to identify talent and provide training and support to younger editors working for African publishers and on literary platforms. She continues to mentor authors via this platform, and also runs the Salon Hecate project at Noordhoek Art Point Gallery. These events provides cross-over spaces and opportunities for local poets, authors and creative projects. Visit https://noordhoekartpoint.co.za/salon-hecate/ for information.

For more details of Helen's authors and books, and to read her blog, visit https://www.helenmoffett.com/




Write a family story that people will want to read

Sally Cranswick

Dates: 30 July–27 August (Tuesdays)

Time: 18:00–20:00

Platform: Zoom

Course fee: R2 000; Staff and students R1 000

 Maximum: 20 participants

Booking is via Webtickets: Write a family story that people will want to read - Sally Cranswick (webtickets.co.za)

As I embark on my PhD to write a family story, let’s have some fun together by exploring why we write family stories, who benefits from them, and how we can make them engaging enough for people to want to read.

This five-week course will focus on these main questions, together with examples of wonderfully written family stories. We will look at how to structure the family story that you want to tell, how to create a memorable cast of characters, and we will look at creative ways to use research to fill in the missing gaps.

We will do lots of writing and creative exercises and there will be plenty of opportunity to share your work and to get feedback from me throughout the workshop series. As always, our aim is to come together as a creative community and have fun whilst working towards our highest writing goals.


Week 1            Why write your family story and what is it really about?

Week 2            Create a memorable cast of characters

Week 3            Find the best structure for your story

Week 4            Fun research topics that will help to authenticate the ‘truth gaps’

Week 5            How to keep yourself motivated and what to do with your finished story

Recommended reading

Durrell, Gerald. My Family and Other Animals

Fuller, Alexandra. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Sedaris, David. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Bio: Sally Cranswick is a writer, story coach and workshop facilitator with a special interest in memoir and life writing. She is a creative writing lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Department for Extra-Mural Studies and has written many stories, features and columns for magazines and newspapers. Her collection of short stories, Women out of Water (Modjaji Books), was shortlisted for the SALA Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award in 2022 and her novel, Of All Things We Need Hope, is due for release in 2024. She is currently studying for her PhD in Creative Writing through University of the Western Cape, has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town and a BA in Creative & Media Writing from Middlesex University, London. Before settling in Cape Town, Sally was a singer and lived in many countries around the world.


Heritage Law and Its Administration

Monday mornings, 29 April to 27 May 2024, Exam date: to be announced


This five-morning ‘remote’ course is aimed at improving the knowledge of professionals (lawyers, heritage practitioners, town planners, architects, both heritage and land-use officials, and decision-makers) who are already experienced in the submission, scrutiny and decision-making regarding development applications required under the heritage laws (the National Heritage Resources Act and municipal planning by-laws). It is designed to deepen the knowledge of course participants of the applicable and associated laws and to explore the administration and operation of these laws in South Africa by exploring current practice and decision-making in the Western Cape and in the courts.

On completion of the course participants will be able to:

•           Understand the provisions of the laws in play

•           Understand the details and effects of a number of court cases which have determined certain interpretations of the laws

▪           Understand the roles and influence of the various actors/role-players in heritage-related applications

•           Understand the relationship between ideas about conservation, the processes of identifying heritage resources and assessing their significance, and the current administration by the authorities

▪           Adopt these interpretations and understandings in practice through a critical understanding of the necessary components of applications and how they should be presented and argued

Course Content

The contents of the course will include:

•    a review of the administrative processes/procedures adopted by the provincial heritage resources authority, Heritage Western Cape, in the administration of applications emphasising the most often troublesome interpretations

•      a review of the public and I&AP consultation processes ordinarily required

•       a detailed discussion and analysis of several decisions of both the MEC’s Tribunal and of the High and Supreme Court of Appeal

•           a detailed review of the factors (and rights) to be taken into account in assessment and consequential decision-making

Course Convenor and Lecturers

The course convenor, Dr Stephen Townsend, graduated in architecture in Cape Town, completed a diploma in conservation studies at the University of Rome (equivalent to a Masters degree) and a PhD at UCT. He has worked as an architect; as an administrator of land use- and of heritage-related regulations at the Cape Town City Council; and as the CEO of Heritage Western Cape; and he was appointed to the Heritage Western Cape Council in 2010 for a three-year term and chaired its Impact Assessment Committee, and served on its Built Environment and Landscape Committee (BEL Comm) and its Inventories and Grading Committee. He also established the MPhil in Conservation of the Built Environment degree at UCT (from 2009) and ran it for ten years. He now consults and has served on MEC’s Tribunals.

The lectures/seminars will be presented by specialists in the field (lawyers and heritage specialists; see the attached programme), all of whom have represented parties to applications to, in particular, Heritage Western Cape’s Appeals Committee, to the MEC’s Tribunals, and in the courts.

Course Information

Who should attend?

The course will benefit those professionals already involved in and experienced in the submission and administration of applications. This includes lawyers, architects, town planners, heritage practitioners of all disciplines, and officials/heritage managers/administrators and decision-makers. The course is focussed on the law and the administration of conservation practice and heritage resource management.


The course will comprise five four-hour sessions, one each week.  Most of the sessions will comprise two double lectures with time for discussion of issues raised in the lectures and/or in the readings.


The fee for the 20-hour CPD course and exam will be R10 000.

Discounts for staff and students of UCT and students of other tertiary education institutes are available under certain circumstances; and companies/institutions with three and more participants will receive a discount of 20% for every participant.


A certificate of attendance will be given to all course members who attend a minimum of four of the five sessions. A certificate of successful course completion will be issued to those participants who attend the course and obtain at least 60% in the optional examination.


MS Teams

Date and time

Weekly on Mondays: 9h00–13h00

29 April–27 May 2024

Exam: Date to be announced

Registrations and cancellations

Registration forms are available from the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies; ems@uct.ac.za. In order to ensure a place on the course applicants must complete and return a signed registration form to the course administrator: Medee Rall, medee.rall@uct.ac.za. Confirmation of acceptance will be sent on receipt of a registration form.

Registrations close one week before the start of a course.

Cancellations must be received one week before the start of a course, or the full course fee will be charged.

Lecture Programme and Course Content

Monday, 29 April: Session 1: The NHRA, Troublesome Provisions

Two double lectures, discussions. 

Lecturers: Steve Townsend (architect conservationist); Ashley Lillie (heritage specialist)

  • Welcome and house-keeping
  • Outline and introduction to some troublesome provisions in the NHRA and in the MPB-Ls
  • Intersections of the administration of provincial heritage resources authorities (ito the NHRA) and the local planning authorities (ito the MPB-Ls), analysing the process leading to the ‘Monster Building’ judgments

Monday, 6 May: Session 2: Frequent Difficulties in the Administration of Applications

Two double lectures, discussions. 

Lecturers: Steve Townsend (architect conservationist); Richard Summers (attorney)

  • Detailed discussion of one of the ‘troublesome’ provisions, s.34, analysing the process leading to the Qualidental and Gees judgments
  • The rights and roles of I&Aps

Monday, 13 May: Session 3: A Case Study in Administration: The River Club

Two double lectures, discussions. 

Lecturers: Nick Smith (attorney); Steve Townsend (architect conservationist)

  • Detailed account of the applications made ito NEMA, NHRA, MPB-L and their administration
  • Detailed account of court actions and analysis of certain issues including public participation

Monday, 20 May: Session 4: MEC’s Tribunals and Their Decisions

Two double lectures, discussions. 

Lecturers:  Ashley Lillie (heritage specialist): Antony Arvan (attorney)

  • Analysis of the Tribunal processes and their decisions
  • Detailed critique of some cases

Monday, 27 May: Session 5: Assembling Good Applications, Making Good Decisions

Two double lectures, discussions. 

Lecturers: Steve Townsend (architect conservationist); Claire Abrahamse (architect urban designer heritage specialist)

  • Detailed description of the necessary components of successful applications
  • Rational (Constitutionally-Sound) Decision-Making and the Limits of Takings

Examination: Date to be announced

The examination is optional.  Details will be confirmed in due course.

NB: This course is credited by the South African Institute of Architects for 2 Category One CPD points for attendance and 2.2 for  completion of the course.


2024 Courses in April and May

Rock Painting


A unique weekend excursion with Professor John Parkington to the Cederberg looking at rock art in situ, allowing participants a unique insight into the lives of the San by tracing their footsteps and analysing their art and artifacts.
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Sally Cranswick is a writer, editor, ghost writer, story coach and workshop facilitator with a special interest in life writing and memoir


In a genre of its own, the memoir essay is a wonderful form which allows the writer to explore the beauty of an encapsulated memory or feeling without committing to a whole novel.
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Selfpublishing image


A practical guide to the possibilities and pitfalls of bringing your book to life, from first draft to finished product. This course is designed to help authors navigate the complex and empowering world of self-publishing.
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Highlights from the 2024 Summer School

Robert and Clara Schuman

Robert and Clara Schumann: Very Private Lives

On Wednesday, 24 January, The Baxter Theatre presented an evening of songs and chamber music of Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, and their contemporaries, giving a glimpse into the private lives of this extraordinary couple.
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Dr Ramphele

‘Humanity is at a crossroads’

“Humanity is at a crossroads, globally. Our own country is at a crossroads.” This was the crux of former University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s Summer School lecture, held on 27 January
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Topics covered in Upcoming Summer School

Recent public lectures

Summer School 2023 Highlights

Helen Moffett is an author of a wide repertoire of books – from poetry to children’s books and matters of the environment.

A peek into why we read

There are many reasons why human beings read, and as authors Helen Moffett and Bongani Kona note, the answers can be shared among several people.
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EMS outreach: 100UP Saturday Summer School