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School Of Humanities And Social Sciences

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) is the largest school at the University of Papua New Guinea encompassing many specific areas of study. This is the result of amalgamating Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines under the University Restructure. The school is made up of 17 Strands and each of these strands offers courses leading to first degrees, higher degrees and diplomas.

Anthropology & Sociology

The Social Anthropology and Archaeology program recognizes the diversity of cultures, varied world views and social systems that exist throughout the world. As a developing nation, PNG has been uncritically borrowing foreign models with the hope of solving its present social and cultural problems. Such that problems not anticipated were equally introduced which unfortunately necessitated further borrowing of models and theories to seemingly counter these negative social effects. Its natural resources too were exploited without due consideration of how people are attached to and the knowledge held over these resources. The upshot of such a trend is an unfortunate perpetuity of a ‘Dependency Syndrome’. While these may be a result of cultural systems in collision, it is nonetheless long over due that guidance ought to be sought from onshore theories and knowledge.

With relevant intra-school courses available, SAA program’s contribution of specially designed courses will provide a more rounded world view of our social and physical environment for a more sustainable coexistence. Hence, a major in the strand will be useful towards careers in administration, policy and project planning, management of social conflicts and an in-depth understanding of a people’s past history, social organization and contemporary social problems. The courses offered will also provide knowledge and skills for social research, social science teaching including careers in the private sector. Research skills and knowledge acquired from such training will no doubt broaden the outlook of individuals on the contemporary social and economic problems.

Art and Design

This is a four-year integrated non-specialist degree program from a range of disciplines in Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Graphic Design, Photography, Computer Graphics, Textiles and Fashion Design. Building on the internationally recognized strengths of Papua New Guinea art and design, students are prepared for dynamic careers in commercial and educational applications of visual communication. It is the vision of the Art and Design program that knowledgeable, confident, and experienced young artists and designers will establish themselves as active and productive participants in society and contribute significantly to national development and to enhance international recognition in the field. It draws on the unique position of PNG as a strong visually vibrant and diverse culture within the framework of modern practice and theory of Art and Design. The Art and Design program seeks to prepare students for the challenges of visual expression in contemporary society. All aspects of the art and design disciplines are explored in a general context during the first three years before an individualized program of study is initiated. Students will have the opportunity to make an informed decision on the area of art and design that will comprise their central focus in research and independent study programs during the final year. The overall contents of the program include practical and commercial applications, historical and theoretical foundations, support and disciplines needed for effective self-expression.


Under the current restructured academic program of the University of PNG the Literature Program has restructured its course offerings. In the new program literary studies is developed very carefully to suit international standards and local vocational demands.

In the new Literature program most courses are designed with three broad interests in mind. This is line with the aim of the restructure on interdisciplinary studies. The first emphasis is on postcolonial literary studies, theory and criticism. Here also the emphasis is on literature of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific at large.

Second, the program emphasizes creative writing, literary techniques and methods, and studies in various genres of literature. The third focus in on cultural studies, literature and society, traditional knowledge systems, folklore and oral traditions. Various issues and studies in culture, literature, folklore and society are given significance. A major in literature will cover all three areas. Students can take up literary studies on its own or as an elective with other courses. In essence literary studies allows flexibility and an interdisciplinary focus.

Literary and Cultural Studies

A literary education is a learning with a vision and purpose. The end product of the new Literature program will be someone with a triple advantage that is marketable. The Literature graduate will be:

Able to secure a job in various sectors of the State where literature, writing, cultural research, policy, education, information, and public relations are concerned. This type of graduate should find opportunities in the Foreign Service, environment and conservation, cultural, social, historical research, various information and public relations jobs. Past Literature graduates are working in a number of the professions mentioned above.

Able to demonstrate sufficient grounding in the theoretical and critical skills as necessary methodological tools to pursue further research and studies in the field of Literature. This is the basic foundation in which postgraduate studies here or overseas require. A good number of students who have gone through the Literature program at UPNG have successfully completed postgraduate studies overseas.

Able to deploy strategically and creatively knowledge that is neither narrowly conceived nor fixed on conformity. Here again the emphasis is on a graduate who is both productive and responsible in as far as society is concerned. Literature graduates have articulated themselves and pursued responsible positions in society

Beyond that a Literature graduate is someone who can negotiate and reason without falling back on old excuses. On the other hand, student with a major other than Literature benefits immensely by his/her exposure to various discursive domains. Literary studies has become an important field of studies that is studied on its own or within an interdisciplinary scope.

History, Gender & Philosophy

History is an inquiry into past human experiences. It is an inquiry in which we seek to learn not merely about what happened but to consider motives, patterns and consequences. As an inquiry, historical study involves distinct skills in reading, in examining and evaluating evidence and argument. Historical study helps the development of individuals and the society in which they live because students of history learn of the variety as well as the similarity of origins, change and continuity in societies. The overall aim of the study of history is to help students acquire knowledge and understanding of events and forces which have shaped the world and our region in particular. A study of history will develop that sense of historical perspective without which the individual's education and capacity to influence society for the better would be significantly deficient. Our courses have been selected bearing in mind Papua New Guinea's position in the Pacific, South-East and East Asia as well as the past and continuing Western influence.

Information and Communication Sciences

Information is now a strategic resource in most areas of endeavour. Its successful use and presentation requires background knowledge and understanding. Information also needs to be disseminated through a variety of media. It is the purpose of this program to provide professional training for those who will become information managers, journalists and media specialists.

"Managing and disseminating information". The sequence aims to prepare people to work with information at a general facilitatory level (100 and 200); in relation to particular areas of work in the school (300) and in a professional capacity (e.g. information managers, journalists).

Political Science

Political Science and International Relations (Studies) is a well-established academic discipline. UPNG has a special responsibility to offer political science and international relations as many of our graduates will enter the public sector and/or the political arena. Given the undeveloped nature of PNG politics, the political science major has a special role to play in our political development. The courses in this major will offer students a wide range of courses to suit the needs of students and specialized courses in both political science and international relations for those who wish to pursue a more specialized pathway.

Professional Development

There is currently a significant and increasing shortfall in the number of teachers with degrees in relation to requirement of the Teaching Service and limited capacity in the tertiary system to do much about this.

Discussions with staff of the SDU at the Department of Education in relation to the Waigani Seminar 1997 indicate that a program for serving teachers in curriculum subject areas provided at UPNG would be valuable opportunity to improve on supply of graduates.

Subsequent discussion at the working group has indicated that there are a number of other professional groups who need enhanced and accelerated professional development. Areas such as police, correctional services, military, social development, media, public administration, NGOs, women and development are some examples.

There is a need for a route for upgrading valued members of the workforce who have substantial experience and some recognized qualification without sending them to the beginning of a four year program. Having a mix of adult learners on the Campus would be a useful addition to the student body and increase its depth and variety. Recognition of Prior Learning will be the mechanism for entry into this shorter program.

The Professional Development Strand This is a two year program similar in intention to the previous BEd (In-Service), introduced under the current course changes. The strand takes into account of the learning that has already been accumulated as a part of work training, experience, short courses and the like.


Man has systematically, and more often unsystematically studied behaviour throughout human civilisation. However, it was only last century that psychology, the study of behaviour, became a science in its own right. Since then, the scope of psychology has broadened greatly from its foundation of philosophy and physiology such that a whole introductory text is needed to give even a brief coverage of the major areas.

Psychology has something to say about every aspect of our lives, from the moment of conception to the moment of death. It encompasses all behaviour, whether normal or abnormal, in both humans and animals. The major areas which form the basis of study for all psychologists include learning, memory, cognition, human development, perception, physiology, consciousness, emotion, personality, behaviour disorders, therapy, experimental methodology, educational, cross-cultural and social psychology. Those who plan to become professional psychologists usually specialism in a relatively small aspect of one of the major areas.

Most research in psychology has been conducted in North America, Britain and Europe. For this reason, the experiments and examples presented in textbooks usually come from these places. In Papua New Guinea, the field of psychology is quite new and consequently little research has been conducted in this country. However, the opportunities for employment as a psychologist are expanding and many vacancies for national psychologists currently exist.

Social Work

After Independence, rapid social, economic and political changes have brought about both improvements and problems. With a combined effort, the Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Private Business sector and Churches have responded positively to improve the quality of life of the people in specific ways. The Government has responded to some of the problems at different levels. At the international level, it has made commitments to implement such resolutions as those contained in the Social Development Summit Declaration, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). At the national level, social policies such as Social Development Policy for Social Services, Women’s Policy, National Youth Policy, NGO Policy, National Special Education Plan, Health Plan, Education Policy, Population Policy and National Guidelines on Competency based Training are in place. At the local level, Local Government Councils are constituted and tasked with the responsibility to provide social services to the communities. Social indicators however, reveal problems such as, low health status, inadequate housing, not enough jobs for school-leavers, law and order problems, domestic violence, neglected children, low literacy rates, displaced people, refugees and water and sanitation problems. It is evident, that people are often excluded from meaningful participation in society and are discriminated against due to disability, gender, age, ethnicity, locality and religion. The wealth of the country is unevenly distributed and as a result the gap between the rich and poor is growing wider.