History is not a series of events and dates. Rather, it is concerned with what men and women have done in the past, why they did it, and what the consequences were. Historians stimulate us to want to know about the past, to find out about it by looking at evidence and weighing it up, to write about it, and to think and to argue about what it means for us today. History tries to get us to understand both motivation and explanation for actions, whether these are about starting a war, choosing a particular political system, taking photographs of social significance, accepting a national identity, or raising financial interest rates.
Today, the professional words of UCT History graduates can be heard in parliament, in the courts, and on radio and television, and can be read in Sunday newspapers and in leading publications. Their skills can be seen in executive corporate positions, in development agencies, universities and colleges, and many other fulfilling areas of work.
The Department of Historical Studies has more winners of UCT's Distinguished Teacher Award than any other department of the University. Postgraduate studies at honours, master's and doctoral level in history or art history systematically extend and deepen the basic research and interpretative skills that students gain as undergraduates.
Recent postgraduates from the department have found employment, for example, in universities, colleges and schools, in the heritage and tourist industry, in archives, libraries, museums and art galleries, in publishing and the book trade, in the film and fine art industries, in public relations, industrial relations and trade unions, in the diplomatic service, in print and electronic journalism and as researchers for political parties, government departments and agencies, NGOs and the private sector. What all of these careers have in common is a need for the discovery and critical processing and interrogation of information and texts (whether historical or current, whether written, oral or visual) and an ability to communicate the results of this process in a cogent, coherent and historically-aware manner - skills which are finely honed by postgraduate work in Historical Studies.