NEW: Introduction to Python or R online courses

We are excited to announce the first official introductory programming courses that will be offered as part of the ESCALATOR programme!

In June, we will start offering introductory courses to R and Python for complete novices. Introduction to Python and Introduction to R will be offered as a four-week course with virtual meetups once weekly for one hour. The courses will be repeated in June, August, and October 2023. A maximum of five candidates will be accepted into each iteration of the Python and R courses. Potential candidates can apply to participate and will receive a certificate upon completion.

ℹ Course structure

All sessions will be offered through Zoom and are compulsory to attend. Instructors will work through software installation and the very first steps of using R or Python at the hand of open and free training resources that will be shared with participants before the start of the course.

The format will be a hands-on code-along, meaning candidates will work on their computers and follow along with the instructor as they work through the material. On alternating Wednesdays, the workshop will be followed by a non-compulsory virtual Python/R study group session where participants will have more time to practice, meet other community members, and ask questions.

The workshop will prepare participants for further self-study, enrolling for other (applied) courses in programming in the language of their choice, benefiting more from the ESCALATOR Python/R study group and more.

📌 June Workshops

Application opens: 22 May 2023

Application closes: 31 May 2023

Workshop dates: 7, 14, 21 & 28 June 2023

Workshop times: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

🏆 Completion accolades

Upon completion of the workshop, candidates will receive a certificate of completion. The minimum requirements to obtain the certificate are:

  • Attend all four workshops for the entire hour
  • Interact and participate in the workshop

✅ Eligibility

This introductory course is free and open to

  • Postgraduate students in Humanities and/or Social Sciences affiliated with a South African university or research institution;
  • Researchers and lecturers in Humanities and/or Social Sciences affiliated with a South African university or research institution; and
  • Librarians and other professional staff at South African universities or research institutions who collaborate with or support Humanities and/or Social Sciences research.

Minimum requirements

  • Must be a postgraduate student, researcher, lecturer, or professional staff member at a South African university or research institution
  • Must be in the Humanities and/or Social Sciences
  • Must be able to commit an hour every week to attend the workshop
  • Ensure you have a laptop/computer where you can code along
  • Ensure you have a stable internet connection to follow and interact during the workshop

👩‍💻 Apply to be a facilitator

As we continue to build a community of practice in Digital Humanities and Computational Social Science, we would like to invite proficient programmers in Python and R to apply to be a facilitator.

We will be thrilled to have you aboard as we share knowledge and drive change!


Four sessions of 1 hour per week on a Wednesday from 11:00 - 12:00 per the schedule set out above. We would appreciate it if you could commit to one complete course iteration, as we prefer not to change facilitators halfway through. We will work through one of the open and free online textbooks for learning R and Python (e.g. R for Data Science or Learning Python the Hard Way but open to suggestions).


As a facilitator, you will receive a certificate of facilitation. We will list you on the ESCALATOR website as a Python/R facilitator and identify additional non-monetary opportunities to reward you for your time.

❗Study group

ESCALATOR has been hosting a bi-weekly virtual Python/R study group for colleagues in Humanities and Social Sciences affiliated with South African universities since 2021. The study group offers an informal environment where students and researchers with a range of programming experience (novice, intermediate and expert) set aside time to learn how to code or work on their programming projects. This is a place where colleagues come to share knowledge and resources, assist each other if help is needed, or work quietly in a break-out room, knowing help is just a “chat message or unmute of the microphone” away.

Study group times will change from 7 June 2023 to accommodate the introductory course sessions.

Study group times:

  • June: 7, 21 June @ 12:00 - 13:00
  • July: 5, 19 July @ 12:00 - 13:00
  • August: 2, 16, 30 August @ 12:00 - 13:00

More dates will be announced in July.