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Faculty of Commerce
School of Economics
Director: Associate Professor Corne
van Walbeek
Departmental Profile
The School of Economics is located in two faculties, namely
the Faculty of Commerce (which is also its administrative
home) and the Faculty of Humanities. In March 2011, the
School of Economics moved into a newly-constructed
building on Middle Campus. The new infrastructure provides
a good working environment for staff and helps the School
in attracting good students and eminent academics from
around the world. The School has 64 permanent and long-
term contract staff. In 2013, Associate Professor Edwin
Muchapondwa is set to direct the School of Economics.
The School has more than 3000 undergraduate students. In
2012, the School had 188 newly registeredHonours students
(67 in Economics and 121 in Financial Management and
Portfolio Management), 56 registered master’s students,
and 62 registered PhD students.
Since 2003, the School offers two PhD programmes. In
addition to the traditional PhD by thesis programme,
the School also has a coursework-and-thesis based PhD
programme which is offered in collaboration with seven
other universities on the African continent. The four-year
collaborative PhD programme consists of 18-24 months
of core and applied coursework, followed by a standard
dissertation. Between 2003 and 2012 this programme has
attracted 72 students, nearly all from African countries.
Since inception of the collaborative programme in 2003,
a substantial number of PhD students in this programme
have been funded by the African Economic Research
Consortium (AERC). The AERC has typically funded about
11 students per year since 2011, up from 3-5 students per
year before then. Furthermore, Carnegie Corporation
provided one-year scholarships to another 12 PhD students
in 2012. The scholarships from Carnegie Corporation are
also tenable for students in the traditional PhD by thesis
programme. The growth in the PhD enrolment means that
the School can expect a sharp increase in PhD graduates
in three or four years’ time. In 2012, the School graduated
a total of 10 PhD students.
Current research activity, with an emphasis on policy related
research, is spread across a number of fields, including
development economics; international economics;
international finance; financial theory; growth theory
and empirics; labour economics; poverty and inequality;
health economics; education; environmental and resource
economics; and political economy.
The School of Economics hosts six research units which
are led by its academic staff but also recruit other research
staff. These are the Aids and Society Research Unit
(ASRU), the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU),
the Environmental-Economics Policy Research Unit (EPRU),
Policy Research on International Services andManufacturing
(PRISM), Research Unit in Behavioural Economics and
Neuroeconomics (RUBEN) and the Southern Africa Labour
and Development Research Unit (SALDRU).
Aids and Society Research Unit
ASRU is an inter-disciplinary unit that conducts quantitative
and qualitative social science research on various aspects
of AIDS policy and the socio-economic dimensions of living
with HIV. Recent research by students and researchers in
ASRU has focussed on the socio-economic determinants of
HIV infection, medical male circumcision, AIDS conspiracy
beliefs (and how they are contested), sexual behaviour,
the international AIDS response (including millennium
development goal 6), HIV and reproductive rights, HIV and
gender, the modelling of HIV in Southern Africa, the effect
of antiretroviral treatment on labour market behaviour
and household composition. ASRU continues to engage
with community organisations and NGOs outside of the
university. ASRU is directed by Professor Nicoli Nattrass.
Environmental-Economics Policy
Research Unit (EPRU)
The Environmental-Economics Policy Research Unit
(EPRU) is a research group which seeks to enhance
environmental policy-making in South Africa through
rigorous policy research and extension in order to attain
sustainable development and poverty reduction. EPRU
is funded by the Swedish International Development
Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Environment
for Development (EfD) Initiative managed by the
Environmental Economics Unit (EEU) at Goteborg
University. The EfD consists of 6 environmental
economics research centers in developing countries
(Costa Rica, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and
Tanzania), the EEU and Resources for the Future in
Washington DC, US. The EfD Initiative provides EPRU
with a rich network of highly skilled academics trained
in environmental economics to draw on.
The existing focus of EPRU’s research projects are in the
following areas: biodiversity and ecosystems management;
responses to climate risk; distributional consequences
of climate policy; poverty, service delivery and local
environmental quality; community based resource