Awards & achievements

UCT Book Award

The UCT Book Award recognises outstanding books written by members of staff.

Published works in any category, including monographs, textbooks, novels, collections and popular writing, are eligible for consideration by the Book Award Committee. Members of the university community may nominate books they think bring credit to UCT.

This annual award has a R30 000 prize.


The 2019 UCT Book Award has been jointly awarded to:

A History of the Iziko South African National GalleryAnna Tietze, Senior Lecturer, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Faculty of Humanities
A History of the Iziko South African National Gallery: Reflections on Art and National Identity

This first full history of the Iziko South African National Gallery traces the gallery’s fortunes from its inception in the 1870s to the present day and considers the formative influence on the gallery of successive directors and trustees, as well as governments, showing how these have shaped its collection and exhibition policies.

Read the Daily News article.  Read the citation.

Shell Structures in Civil and Mechanical Engineering: Theory and AnalysisProfessor Alphose Zingoni, Professor of Structural Engineering and Mechanics, Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment
Shell Structures in Civil and Mechanical Engineering: Theory and Analysis

In writing this book, Zingoni, a world-recognised authority on the subject of shell structures, has employed a unique strategy that allows closed-form analytical solutions to be successfully obtained for a wide range of practical shell problems.

Read the Daily News article.  Read the citation.


Suetonius: Life of AugustusProfessor David Wardle, School of Languages & Literatures, Faculty of Humanities
Suetonius: Life of Augustus

David Wardle’s Suetonius: Life of Augustus (Oxford University Press, 2014) is a comprehensive, historical, historiographical and literary commentary in English on the biography of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, that was written in the second century AD.

Read the Daily News article.  Read the citation.


David ChidesterProfessor David Chidester of the Department of Religious Studies 
Empire of Religion: Imperialism and Comparative

David Chidester’s Empire of Religion: Imperialism and Comparative Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is part of the scholar’s ongoing efforts to decolonise his discipline, the academic study of religion.

Read the Daily News article.  Read the citation.


Litheko ModisaneDr Litheko Modisane, Centre for Film and Media Studies, Faculty of Humanities
South Africa’s Renegade Reels

The 2016 winning work by Litheko Modisane, senior lecturer at the Centre for Film and Media Studies, South Africa’s Renegade Reels: The Making and Public Lives of Black-Centred Films, inspects the circulation and reception of anti-apartheid cinema and breaks new ground for analysing films.

Read the Daily News article. Read the citation.


Sa'diyya ShaikhAssociate Professor Sa'diyya Shaikh, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities
Sufi Narratives of Intimacy

Sa'diyya Shaikh' Sufi Narratives of Intimacy explores of the ideas of a 13th century Sufi mystic, poet and scholar. Her book combines feminism and Sufism in such a unique way that critics have labelled it "ground-breaking" and "pioneering".

It represents a dialogue between the social and spiritual concerns of 21st century Muslims and the rich legacy of a compelling Muslim thinker – Muhyi al-Din ibn al-'Arabi.

Read Daily News article.

Jenni CaseProfessor Jenni Case, Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment
Researching Student Learning in Higher Education

Jenni Case’s book Researching Student Learning in Higher Education: A social realist approach tackles crucial aspects of students’ access and success in higher education and questions the role that higher education should play in post-apartheid South Africa. Case is based at UCT’s Centre for Research in Engineering and Science Education.


Nicoli NattrassProfessor Nicoli Nattrass, School of Economics, Faculty of Commerce
The AIDS Conspiracy

In The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back, Nicoli Nattrass (School of Economics) argues that AIDS conspiracy beliefs (such as HIV being deliberately created by scientists) are strongly mediated by local history and culture.

This is the second time that she has scooped this award; the first was in 2005 for her book, The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa.


Sonja LootsMs Sonja Loots, School of Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Humanities

Sonja Loots' Sirkusboere tells the story, based on fact, of a group of traumatised, maimed and penniless veterans of the South African War (1899 to 1902) who were recruited in the war's aftermath by legendary circus owner Frank Fillis to participate in a bizarre military spectacle at the 1904 World's Fair in St Louis, Missouri. Known as the Boer War Circus, it became one of the most popular events at the fair. The meticulously researched Sirkusboere is a story about trauma, diaspora, showbiz, racial discrimination, loss, displacement, roller coasters and sport, and is described as "a wild bronco ride in history's rodeo".

Read Monday Paper article.


There was no award presented in 2012.


Professor JC (Kay) de VilliersEmeritus Professor JC (Kay) de Villiers
Healers, Helpers and Hospitals

JC (Kay) de Villiers, who formerly held the Helen and Morris Mauerberger Chair of Neurosurgery at UCT, won the award for Healers, Helpers and Hospitals: A history of military medicine in the Anglo-Boer War. In this 2-volume work, the fields of history and medicine converge as it focuses on a time when war killed more people through disease than through wounds.

Read Monday Paper article.


Kit VaughanEmeritus Professor Christopher Vaughan, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences
Imagining The Elephant

Kit Vaughan, emeritus professor of biomedical engineering and director of UCT spin-off company CapeRay, won the award for Imagining the Elephant: a Biography of Allan Macleod Cormack.

Cormack, a "lowly" UCT-trained physicist, was co-winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his computer-assisted tomography (CAT) scanner. His work inspired a new generation of medical scientists, including Vaughan, who established a medical imaging research group at UCT in 2000, just 2 years after Cormack's death, in the latter's honour.

Read Monday Paper article.


The 2009 Book Award was awarded to two UCT academics.

Prof Pippa SkotnesProfessor Philippa Skotnes, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Faculty of Humanities
Claim To The Country

Pippa Skotnes of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts was awarded the prize for her work Claim to the Country: The Archive of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd.

The book and accompanying DVD brings together most of an archive on the San people created by philologist Wilhelm Bleek and linguist and folklorist Lucy Lloyd in the late 1800s.

Read the Monday Paper article.

Prof Nigel PennProfessor Nigel Penn, Department of Historical Studies, Faculty of Humanities
Forgotten Frontier

Nigel Penn of the Department of Historical Studies was recognised for his book Forgotten Frontier: Colonist and Khoisan on the Cape's Northern Frontier in the 19th Century.

Relying primarily on records of the Dutch East India Company, he argues that the Northern Cape played a crucial role in shaping the attitudes and institutions that contributed to the subjugation of the Khoisan people.

Read Daily News article.


Dr Peter BruynsAssociate Professor Peter Bruyns, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science

Peter Bruyns, a mathematician specialising in the theory of permutation groups, received the award for his 2-volume work, Stapeliads of Southern Africa and Madagascar.

The work is a culmination of his 25 years of research, trekking to remote parts of the globe in search of a group of fleshy-stemmed succulents known as stapeliads. These striking, pentagonal-shaped flowers belong to the family Apocynaceae are quite plentiful in the drier parts of Africa but generally considered very difficult to identify.

Read the Monday Paper article.


Prof Bill NassonEmeritus Professor William Nasson, Department of Historical Studies, Faculty of Humanities
Britannia's Empire

Bill Nasson's Britannia's Empire – Making a British World (Tempus, 2004) has been described as "packed with elegant and concise argument, original insights and what can only be described as Nassonian witticisms". This is his second such award.

Nasson, who describes himself as a writer of history, not a historian who writes, won his first UCT Book Award in 1993 for Abraham Esau's War: A black South African War in the Cape 1899-1902.

Read the Monday Paper article.


Prof Peter Knox-ShawProfessor Peter Knox-Shaw, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities
Jane Austen and the Enlightenment

Peter Knox-Shaw, an honorary research associate in the English department, was a  senior lecturer from 1975 to 1991.

His aim in writing the book was twofold. He wanted to demonstrate how responsive Jane Austen was to the deep social changes that took place during her lifetime, changes that now lie at the foundation of the modern world, and also to reassert her presence as a liberal and progressive figure in it.

Read the Monday Paper article.


Prof Nicoli NattrassProfessor Nicoli Nattrass, School of Economics, Faculty of Commerce
The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa

The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa has been widely acclaimed as it presents an interface between the moral and economic facets of AIDS in South Africa.

Nicoli Nattrass, who heads the AIDS and Society Research Unit (Faculty of Commerce) in the Centre for Social Science Research, is hopeful that the award will boost similar academic output in her resident faculty.

Read the Monday Paper article.

Other recipients

Year Author Title
2009 P Skotnes (Humanities) The Archive of Willem Bleek and Lucy Lloyd
2009 N Penn (Humanities) The Forgotten Frontier
2008 Dr P Bruyns (Science) Stapeliads of Southern Africa and Madagascar
2007 B Nasson (Humanities) Britannia's Empire - Making a British World
2006 P Knox-Shaw (Humanities) Jane Austen and the Enlightenment
2005 N Nattrass (Commerce) The Moral Economy of AIDS in South Africa
2004 MS Blackman (Law)
RD Jooste (Law)
GK Everingham (Law)
Companies Act: Commentary
2003 T D Noakes (Health Scienses) Lore of Running
2002 J Glazewski (Marine & Environmental Law) Environmental Law in South Africa
2001 NG Penn (Humanities) Rogues, Rebels and Runaways
2000 J Higgins (English Language and Literature) Raymond Williams. Literature, Marxism and Cultural Materialism
1999 M Mamdani (Humanities) Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Colonialism
1998 M S Blackman (Law) Companies (in Law of South Africa, first re-issue Vol 4, parts 1, 2 and 3)
  J V Bickford-Smith (Arts) Ethnic Pride and Racial Prejudice in Victorian Cape Town: Group Identity and Social Practice, 1985 - 1902
1997 B Warner (Science) Cataclysmic Variable Stars
1996 D Coplan (Social Science and Humanities) In the Time of the Cannibals
  P Harries (Arts) Work, Culture and Identity
  M Shain (Arts) The Roots of Anti-Semitism in South Africa
  T Rajna (Music) Harp Concerto
1994 G M Branch (Science); C L Griffiths (Science); L Beckley and M L Branch Two Oceans: A Guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa
1993 D Chidester (Social Science & Humanities) Shots in the Street
1993 W Nasson (Arts) Ebram Esau's War
1992 P Skotnes (Fine Art & Architecture); S Watson (Arts); J Parkington (Arts) and N Penn (Arts) Sound from the Thinking Strings
1991 R Mendelsohn (Arts) Sammy Marks, "The Uncrowned King of the Transvaal"
1990 J M Coetzee (Arts) Age of Iron
  K M Coleman (Arts) Book IV of the Silvae of Statius
1989 H Bradford (Arts) A Taste of Freedom
1988 R G Lass (Arts) The Shape of English: Structure and History
1987 M J Hall (Arts) The Changing Past: Farmers, Kings and Traders in Southern Africa, 200 - 1860
1986 L H Opie (Medicine) The Heart: Physiology, Metabolism, Pharmacology and Therapy
1985 G M Branch (Science) The Living Shores of South Africa
1984 J M Coetzee (Arts) Waiting for the Barbarians