Home » Faculties of Science » Departments » Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering » About ACSSE

The Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering strives to develop capacity in the Information Technology field which helps to advance South Africa as a country. In the more than 45 years that the Academy has existed, it has always been instrumental in producing high-quality manpower.

The Academy provides landscaping to a diverse population of students, by cultivating a purpose that is beyond the curriculum. It is this purpose that drives students to academic excellence and prosperity in local and international industries. To ensure that students are prepared for the challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Academy embraces the development of emerging technologies driven by e.g. mobile connectivity, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, the Internet of Thing (IoT), Cyber Security, and blockchain-based solutions.

The Academy’s educational offerings are distinctive at both the undergraduate and honours level. At the undergraduate-level the unique separation between Informatics (Software Engineering) and Computer Science allows both the business-oriented, application specific and deep theoretical components of a well-rounded IT education to be fully addressed. At the honours level, the Academy offers a wide variety of self-contained modules allowing students to either sample a broad range of disciplines in the field or specialise in a well-defined competency area such as Information Security. This decision is not imposed on the students and remains at all times in their hands.

The Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering is very successful as it is supported by excellent staff and students, to establish a remarkable learning environment. Standards are set for staff and students to adhere to; giving a department that exemplifies the culture of quality expected and is also superior to that of its competitors. Contemporary teaching degrees presented by the Academy ensure that students can become sought-after professionals. A dynamic research environment covers a wide variety of disciplines in Information Technology, producing high-quality results that are published internationally.

The Subdepartments

The Subdepartment of Computer Science
Computer Science as subject investigates the fundamental building blocks of the computer – not hardware-wise, but specifically as far as software is concerned, because software really forms the heart of any computer system. Computer Science therefore concentrates more on the technical aspects related to computer use, and includes aspects such as the operating system, data structures which are part of the formal building blocks of software, computer architecture and other systems software.

Problem solving and programming are central concepts throughout the course. This subject will really give you a good understanding of the computer as a device used to solve problems.

The Subdepartment of Informatics
Informatics is much more user-orientated than Computer Science, and investigates ways in which the computer can be used to solve problems. Informatics investigates aspects related to the development of large software systems, specifically those needed in commerce and industry. Software engineering is therefore at the core of Informatics.

This subject will allow you to understand how the computer is used to really solve problems. Also in Informatics, problem solving and programming are extremely important.

The Subdepartment of Information Security
Information Security is concerned with protection of of the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data on an information system. Not only should security be considered at a computer science level, it must be included at the system design stage of software development.


The core philosophy and distinctive character of the Academy outlined above are clearly shown in the following endeavours:

Teaching and Learning

The Academy follows a “grow our own timber strategy.” This has ensured a dynamic and vibrant young department under the stable leadership of senior professors. The Academy remains one of the most stable IT departments in South Africa. Capacity building of the designated groups (previously disadvantaged) remains a priority of the Academy. Regardless of the influx and changing student profile of the first year students, the Academy maintains good throughput rates. The normal high standard has been maintained during the last 5 years. Requirements were made stricter in all undergraduate courses in terms of practical assignments. A 40% practical mark requirement for exam entrance instituted in 2012 was increased to 50% (normally 45% applied). This has yielded an improvement in the quality of students. 2012 also saw the institution of a minimum research component in honours courses, namely a full 50% of the final module mark should constitute of research-oriented deliverables. In 2016 a practical entrance exam for all honours degree qualifications was introduced and resulted in better quality students entering into the qualification.

The Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering offers 4 undergraduate degree qualifications, 4 honours degree qualifications, 4 Masters and 3 PhD degrees. All masters and doctoral degrees are research based. To achieve the above 2 majors i.e. Computer Science and Informatics are offered as well as 28 honours (level 4) modules.

Futhermore, the Academy actively supports the advancement of Teaching and Learning among their staff members. Prof Leung has won the Faculty of Science’s Teaching & Learning Award in 2016, the Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Awards: Teacher Excellence in 2017, and been accepted into the prestigious Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) 2018-2019 program. She has also been nominated as one of the University’s three representatives competing in the national Higher Education Learning & Teaching Association of South Africa/Council for Higher Education (HELTASA/CHE) Teaching Excellence Awards for 2018.

Centre for Cyber Security

The UJ Centre for Cyber Security, which has a large research emphasis, was formed under the leadership of Prof S.H. von Solms as a response to an identified capacity shortage in the area of Cyber Security in industry and government in South Africa and in Africa. This centre is also part of the National Cyber Security Awareness initiative in conjunction with UNISA and NMU. This landmark centre is the first of its kind in Africa, and its core focus is to extend Cyber Security related topics such as Critical Information Infrastructure Protection and build Cyber Security awareness. Prof S.H. von Solms has established research cooperation with Cyber Security Oxford at Oxford University and currently serves as the Associate Director of the Global Cybersecurity Capacity Centre at the University of Oxford.

See more here.


Key Research areas are Cyber Security, Agent Technology, Social and Services Computing. These have been augmented by including the research areas of interest to the emerging researchers in the Academy; these being Biologically Inspired AI, Biometrics, and Digital Forensics. On average the Academy produces in the order of 24 peer-reviewed papers in International conference proceedings and journals annually. In most cases, the presentations are done by young staff members or postgraduate students to ensure capacity building. All the Full Professors in the Academy are researchers rated by the National Research Foundation.

Prof Von Solms has a B rating from the NRF (2013 – 2018) which means he has been evaluated by his peers as amongst the top 10 – 15% of international researchers in his field. Prof Coetzee is a member of the organizing committee of the ISSA (Information Security for South Africa) conference since 2009, the premier conference for Information Security in South Africa. ISSA is supported by the IEEE SMC and IEEE South Africa section, and the proceedings are published in the IEEE digital library. Prof Coetzee and Prof Ehlers are rated as established researchers.