Human Kinetics and Ergonomics (HKE) is a multidiscplinary subject that has a focus on the interaction between humans and the environment, including in situations of daily living, sport and work. Below you will find all the general information you require about HKE, as well as frequently asked questions.
General study information
Human Kinetics and Ergonomics (HKE) is a three-year major subject which can be taken for degrees in either the Science or the Humanities Faculty. An HKE major requires three full credits i.e. HKE I, HKE II, and HKE III.
Human Kinetics investigates how and why people move and what happens to them biomechanically, physiologically and psychologically when they move. It also deals with the way in which various situations, physical demands and emotional states may affect one's movements.
In an attempt to understand the complexities of how humans respond in different situations it is necessary to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach. The following fields of study collectively contribute to a fuller comprehension of our subject matter, "humans-in-action" :
A thorough knowledge of basic anatomy (skeletal framework and musculature) is required before one can fully understand the functional anatomy and biomechanics of human movement. This latter field includes the descriptive (kinematic) and causative (kinetic) aspects of physical laws as applied to human movement.
The biology of physical activity centres on an understanding of the immediate and long-term effects of movement on the physiological systems of the body. Physiological status is a limiting factor in movement capabilities and thus we need an understanding of neuro-muscular integration, energetics, cardio-pulmonary and other aspects of normal, superior and pathological function.
Humans, as culture-transmitting beings, are the most complex of animals. All human action is meaningless outside the psycho-social context in which it occurs. The cognitive and emotive interpretation of any situation will either positively or negatively affect the individual's response. It is therefore critical to include the "human factor" in the analysis of human responses.
Specific areas of interest in this domain include perceptual motor-development and the biological basis of skill acquisition, motivation to meet the demands of varying situations, the impact of modern living and of sedentary life styles, and the social consequences of these behaviours, together with the management of stress in order to achieve superior performance.
Synthesis of all these domains, and the logical analysis of the concepts proposed, involves the philosophical domain: making sense of the interrelated facts from the cognate disciplines of anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, psychology and sociology of movement is the mark of a rounded education in the field of human kinetics.
A BSc degree comprises nine full credits of which three may be HKE credits, three are credits in a second major (which must be another science subject), plus another two credits. Admission into the BSc programme is subject to meeting the basic entrance requirements i.e. Maths at the Higher grade plus another science subject.
A BA degree comprises ten full credits. Four must be HKEE credits, three credits are taken in a second major, plus three other credits.
Post-graduate programmes are also offered by the Department, namely Honours in HK&E or an Honours specialising in Ergonomics; MA, MSc and Doctoral degrees. A thesis is required for Masters and Doctoral degrees.
Practical experience permeates the entire degree programme of this Department. Laboratory work in the form of scientific experimentation in which the students gather biomechanical, physiological and psychological data on their classmates under controlled performance situations and varying environmental conditions forms a major component of all courses. It is upon such experiences that students can draw, first-hand, in developing insights into the field of `humans-in-motion'.
The Department has its own library, and there are laboratories for biomechanics, work physiology, motor learning, sport psychology, ergonomics, and rehabilitation research.
Degree options and admission
Human Kinetics and Ergonomics is a six-semester subject which may be taken as a major subject for the degrees of
- Bachelor of Science (BSc)
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)
- Bachelor of Journalism (BJourn).
Credit in Human Kinetics and Ergonomics 1 (HKE1) is allowed for other degree/diploma curricula in the Faculty of Humanities and Science.
Please note: It is not possible to major in HKE if you are studying towards a Bachelor of Social Science (BSS) degree.
To find out more about the admision requirements for the different faculties please visit the faculty web-sites or consult the Rhodes Calendar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Prospective students frequently ask similar questions when enquiring about our Department. Responses to these questions are outlined below. Please contact us for answers to specific queries.
What is Human Kinetics (HK)?
Human Kinetics investigates how and why people move and what happens to them biomechanically, physiologically and psychologically when they move. It also deals with the way in which various situations, physical demands and emotional states may affect one's responses.
What do HKE Degrees comprise of?
First Year: HKE I plus 3 other 1st year credits
Second Year: HKE II plus 1 or 2 other credits
Third Year: HKE III plus other major
Human Kinetics and Ergonomics (HKE) is a three-year major subject which can be taken for degrees in either the Science or Arts Faculty. An HKE major requires three credits i.e. HKE I, HKE II and HKE III.
A BSc degree comprises nine full credits, of which three must be HKE credits, and three must be credits in a second major (which must be another science subject). A further two full credits complete the course load.
A BA degree comprises ten full credits. Four must be HKE credits, three credits are taken in a second major, and three other credits complete the course load.
At the completion of your three years in the department you will have developed a broad and deep understanding of human motor performance, not just in a descriptive sense, but in a causative sense which permits conceptual awareness and very rewarding practical application.
You will not have been "trained" for any specific job; but you will have been educated to the point where this knowledge can readily be applied in the career of your choice (see 'HKE Career Opportunities').
In an attempt to understand the eclectic nature of Homo sapiens it is necessary to draw on a wide array of cognate disciplines such as chemistry, physics, anatomy, mechanics, physiology, psychology, sociology and many others.
In order to use the relevant information from these different sources there is a need to focus in on our particular field of interest - HUMAN MOVEMENT. In establishing our own discipline of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics we recognise four clear domains, which will actively contribute to a full understanding of our specific subject matter, "man-in-motion".
For details on the lecture format go to 'General Information' and 'Fields of Study & Lecture Format'.
What about the facilities?
The Department has spacious teaching laboratories for Biomechanics and Anatomy, for Work-physiology, Psycho-motor development and Ergonomics. There is also a Rehabilitation Research Clinic and a Hydrostatic weighing tank. In each of these lab. areas micro-computers assist in on-line data collection in the analysis of human motor performance. Increasingly undergraduates are becoming introduced to sophisticated technology as part of their preparation for diverse careers. The Departmental branch library holds a rapidly expanding Journals section, with over forty International Journals in the diverse disciplines relevant to our field.
Practical experience permeates the entire degree programme of this Department and involves scientific experimentation in which the students gather biomechanical, physiological and psychological data on their classmates under controlled performance conditions and includes personal participation in a wide variety of laboratory activities. It is upon such experience that students can draw, first-hand, in developing insights into the field of human movement.
Details of the degree structures and requirements, and general information about the University, may be obtained from:
P.O. Box 94
Telephone: 046 - 6038214
or from the Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics:
Telephone: 046 - 6038468
Fax: 046 - 6223803