The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town was established in 1910 and is the oldest in the country, and possibly in Africa. Thousands of civil engineers have graduated from the university to help build, quite literally, South Africa and many other countries. 

Examples of civil engineering – dams, canals and pyramids – date back over 5 000 years. The term itself was coined by John Smeaton in the UK in 1771 – ‘civilian engineering’ to distinguish it from ‘military engineering’. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was founded in London in 1818 with Thomas Telford, a famous road, bridge and canal designer, as the first president. As engineers became more specialised, other engineering disciplines, such as mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering, broke away.

Today, civil engineering is mainly associated with large structures such as high-rise buildings, factories, bridges, ships and aeroplanes, water management, such as dams, pipelines, treatment works, drainage systems and coastal protection, as well as transportation systems, such as roads, railways, canals, harbours and airports.

With 18 highly qualified and motivated full-time academic staff members, we are able to consistently achieve international recognition for excellent teaching and research. Our graduates are highly sought after. 

We invite you to browse through our website to learn more about what the Department has to offer you. 

Professor Mark Zuidgeest (PrEng, PhD)

​​​​​​​Head of Department

Mark Zuidgeest