What is Informatics?

Information Systems have become an indisputable part of our world and plays a vital role in modern organisations. In this fast moving world we have a dire need to understand and cope with the explosion of information and the turbulence of the world in which we find ourselves.

Informatics is the name given to the academic discipline concerned with looking at the design of computer driven systems and their integration with organisational and social systems.

The Department of Information Science presents several programmes, including a BA (Socio-Informatics) and BComm (Information Systems Management), relating specifically to the field of Informatics. They also present content in certain BSc programmes and courses focused on organisational theory, systems and decision making.

These courses focuses not only on a deep understanding of technology, but also adds a deep understanding of societal and organisational dynamics, and knowledge systems.

The programme BA (Socio-Informatics) is unique in the South African context as it combines hard, technical subjects with subjects from the social sciences. This balanced approach incorporates elements ranging from modelling, database design and programming to social theory, human cognition, politics and leadership.

The programme BComm (Management Sciences) with Focus Area Information Systems Management combines the bests aspects from the management sciences with informatics. Topics range from modelling, database design and programming to financial management, industrial psychology and economics.

The Honours BA Programme in Socio-Informatics is a post-graduate (NQF-level IIX) course focused on providing students with a more advanced understanding of both the technical (practical) and theoretical aspects of contemporary information systems. The programme covers a variety of topics and integrates these elements to expose students to the rich problems and opportunities facing a knowledge worker today. This is augmented with an understanding of contemporary information systems against the backdrop of the Knowledge Economy.

By considering informatics in a holistic fashion, this course enables students to understand the real-world implications of the subject matter, rather than simply indulging in an academic study.

Where does Informatics fit in the education landscape?

Informatics is one of the so-called SET (Science, Engineering, Technology) subjects, focusing specifically on technology. Because of this classification, it has been identified by the South African Government as one of the subjects in the ‘scarce skills’ group.

Modules are in CESM category 6 – “Computer and Information Science” along with subjects such as Computer Science.

How Informatics fits into the Lab

Informatics is the point of departure for a large number of diverse job opportunities and careers in the Knowledge Economy. Informatics provide students with the necessary knowledge and understanding of how technology and people interact and fittingly corresponds with the lab’s mission to participate in research on next-generation technologies that will influence the ways in which humans interact with computers, the Web and other forms of electronic media.

The Informatics approach is to consider technology within the social context in which it operates, rather than in the isolation of a laboratory. A serious focus is therefore placed on real-world interaction and environmental dynamics.

For more information on Informatics and other courses relating to Information Systems, visit the Information Science department website.