About the Department

Social work training at the University of Pretoria was initiated in February 1929 at the then Transvaal University College (TUK) when the Suid Afrikaanse Vrouefederasie decided to finance a child guidance clinic and at the same time appointed a lecturer in social work. Social work training became more formalised with the establishment of the Department of Sociology and Social Work in 1934. The Department of Social Work was instituted in January 1975 and provided social work training as an independent department until the end of 2004.

Criminology as a subject was introduced at the University of Pretoria in 1949. The institution of the Department of Criminology in 1960 was a significant milestone for the development of the discipline. We provided training in Criminology as an independent department until the end of 2004.

On 1 January 2005 a new era started for us when the Department of Social Work and the Department of Criminology merged into the current Department of Social Work and Criminology. We are committed to continue to be a leader in training, research and community service to produce well rounded off professionals in the disciplines of social work and criminology.

While we will continue to maintain the specific identities of the disciplines of social work and criminology, the merger is expected to strengthen our Department’s teaching, research and academic service learning capacities. It will allow us to continue to provide for the high demand for undergraduate and postgraduate learners as well as for continuous professional development of qualified professionals. Our commitment to this task is reflected in our vision and mission.

The Department of Social Work and Criminology strives to:

  • be recognised for its international competitiveness, local relevance, continuous innovative education, research and academic service learning;
  • provide an intellectual environment for the rich diversity of South African and international learners;
  • reflect a culture characterised by respect for human rights, diversity and democratic principles;
  • be acknowledged for its prominent role and social responsibilities by addressing social and welfare needs and promoting a safe, secure and empowered society; and
  • provide continuous professional development for practitioners.

The mission of the Department of Social Work and Criminology is to:

  • provide market-related education and training of learners by utilising critical, independent and innovative thinking and maintaining high academic standards;
  • engage in and facilitate accountable and relevant research;
  • be constructively involved in community development and service and contribute towards the pro- and reactive intervention of social problems and injustices;
  • provide society with professional change agents, problem solvers and facilitators of human relationships; and
  • render an effective, efficient person-centred service.



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