The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) was established on 5 December 2013 as an independent statutory body in terms of Gazette No. 37118 vol. 582 and in accordance with Section 69 read with sections 38A, 38B, and 38C of the Higher Education Act (Act No 101 of 1997). The scope or application of the NIHSS will be to advance and co-ordinate scholarship, research and ethical practice in the fields of Humanities and the Social Sciences (HSS) within and through the existing public universities and those to be established or declared in future as public Universities. Read more

NIHSS Award Winners

NIHSS Funding

  • The African Pathways Programme is the elaboration of the Continental and Global South scope of the Institute. The aim is primarily to develop an African-centred Erasmus-type programme and, further, to facilitate national curriculum innovations. The Institute will strive to create an open and dynamic process through which African scholars cooperate, collaborate and help one another reflect on the past, present and future of this continent. This will require engagement with continental bodies like CODESRIA, various governments and their education ministries, and other African higher education institutions. The programme will be complimented by a Phd Scholarship programme for non-South Africans studying in South African institutions.

  • The Doctoral Schools are understood as a form of institutionalised provincial collaboration across co-located higher education institutions in South Africa. They are virtual in the sense that they have no physical presence. While they will bring together 25 PhD candidates in each of the Schools, they are non-degree conferring and do not have registered students or supervisors. The students and supervisors will be drawn from, and maintain their affiliation to, existing higher education institutions but will gather periodically and will access funding under the framework of the Doctoral Schools. The underlying principles – of ensuring access and equity and providing for equal and appropriate life chances in terms of throughput – remain. It is intended that 150 scholarships will be awarded annually.

    Doctoral Schools: Project Leader(s) Identified

    Western Cape School

    1. Cape Peninsula University of Technology,
    2. Stellenbosch University,
    3. University of Cape Town,
    4. University of Western Cape

    Eastern Cape School

    1. Nelson Mandel Metropolitan University,
    2. Rhodes University,
    3. University of Fort Hare,
    4. Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science

    Kwazulu-Natal School

    1. Durban University of Technology,
    2. University of KwaZulu Natal,
    3. University of Zululand

    Gauteng School

    1. Tshwane University of Technology,
    2. University of Johannesburg, 
    3. University of Pretoria,
    4. Vaal University of Technology,
    5. Witwatersrand University

    Free State School and  University of South Africa School

    1. Central University of Technology,
    2. University of Free State (University of the Northern Cape ones established),
    3. University of South Africa

    Northern Corridor School

    1. North West University,
    2. University of Limpopo,
    3. University of Vendda


  • Catalytic Research Projects and Humanities Hubs refer to a primarily research-based programme, which aims to catalyse and open up new avenues for HSS scholarship, and to assist in and promote the development of research in the HSS. This is to be undertaken through the establishment of a network of researchers across the university system in South Africa. Such networks may also include researchers and collaborations beyond the borders of South Africa.

    The aim is to sustain activities that support the following:

    • Coherent collaborative research programmes that involve a network of researchers in study areas that have been approved;
    • Research to design a coherent, collaborative research programme where there is some existing knowledge base and expertise to draw on but which needs to be tabled for approval to become as above;
    • Proposals to engage in research in largely unexplored areas; and
    • Thematic annual events aimed at broader public participation in, and promotion of, the HSS as a vital part of public culture.
    Catalytic Projects Project Leader(s) Identified Institution
    Lineages of Freedom - Academic Programme Prof. Fred Hendricks South African Humanities Dean Association
    Lineages of Freedom - Cultural Programme Prof. D Brown University of Western Cape
    Lineages of Freedom Prof Fred Hendricks Rhodes University
    Strengthening Professional Associations Prof. Tina Uys University of Johannesburg
    Pre-1652 Historiography Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza University of Cape Town
    Heritage Hubs - from Heritage Sites to Knowledge Hubs Dr Mcebisi Ndletyana Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection
    Heritage Hubs -Migrant Labour Museum and Knowledge Centre Prof Mcedisi Somniso University of Fort Hare
    Traditions of Popular Education in South Africa Prof. Shirley Walters University of Western Cape
    Traditions of Popular Education in South Africa: Workplace and Distant Education Prof. Velile Notshulwana  and Prof. Rosemary Moeketsi Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and University of South Africa
    Indigenous Languages and Humanities Concept Formation Prof. Russell Kaschula and Dr Pamela Maseko Rhodes University
    Sources of Creativity Dr Sazi Dlamini University of KwaZuluNatal
    Sources of Creativity - Design South Africa Dr K Netshiombo and Dr Elmarie  Costandius Durban University of Technology and Stellenbosch University
    Sources of Creativity - Formation of a Composers' Ensemble Prof. Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph  and Dr Cameron Harris Witwatersrand University
    Hidden Voices - Unpublished Work, 1950 - 1990 Prof. Edward Webster and Dr Irma du Plessis Chris Hani Institute and University of Pretoria
    Hidden Voices - The Art and Music Prof Premesh Lalu University of Western Cape
    Alternatives B - Socio-Economic Alternatives ThinkTank Prof. Karl von Holdt and Seeraj Mahomed Witwatersrand University
    Post-Conflict Reconstruction Prof. Pumla Gobodo Madikizela University of Free State