When to apply

Applications should be submitted as early as possible in the applications cycle, which commences in October of each year.

Application Fees

Please see UCT fee structure for information.

Applications cannot be amended once submitted. Should you wish to change your programme of study, or any other details, you will be required to contact the UCT Admissions Office via email: admissions@uct.ac.za

Online applications

The following correspondence will be received within 48 hours:

  • an application number which should be used in all future correspondence with UCT
  • your unique log-in details to monitor your application through our self-service facilities
  • further instructions which you will be required to follow carefully.

Application forms

The following correspondence will be posted to you within 7 days:

  • an application number which should be used in all future correspondence with UCT
  • your unique log-in details to monitor your application through our self-service facilities
  • a data sheet that contains the details of your application.

You are encouraged to monitor the status of your application: check your application status online.

Registration: Master’s students

Newly entering candidates who will be taking coursework as part of their programmes must register not later than the date on which their first course begins (there is a R2000 penalty for late registration). However, there is no specific date for first registration of newly entering postgraduates who are registering for a thesis, dissertation / project – commencement is by mutual arrangement with the supervisor. 

Masters and PhD students who need to have the year of first registration counted as an academic year for their minimum period of registration must have been registered for the degree concerned by 30 April. Registration follows formal acceptance by the Faculty of an application for admission. Registration / provisional registration involves completion of 2 forms: a curriculum form and a registration form.

In the case of Master degrees, the Head of Department and supervisor must be satisfied that the student is equipped for Master degree study and has a suitable research topic before he/she is accepted and registered. Candidates should submit, via the proposed supervisor, a written proposal (as a guideline 6-10 pages) which outlines, inter alia

  • The topic to be investigated
  • Familiarity with the central literature within the broad field of study
  • Clarity on the research methods.

In terms of best practice, it is recommended that the proposal should be delivered to a departmental research seminar before the field or laboratory research process begins. Normally this would occur within 3 months after registration.

Wherever possible the supervisor should make every effort to ensure that all postgraduate students attend a formal research methods course. In the case of 120/60 credits research Masters degrees the above requirement should be covered in at least a 4-credit theory course which deals with generic research methods. This should form part of the necessary 60 theory credits.

If you are a new Master’s student in 2018 taking the 120 credits dissertation option, it is compulsory that you register for the dissertation preparation (CIV5109Z) course plus your coursework. In 2019 you will register for the 120 credit dissertation course.

Registration: PhD students

The procedure with regard to PhD students is that initially they register provisionally until their research proposals have been formally approved by the Doctoral Degrees Board.

The approval procedure requires the candidate to present a seminar, based on a written research proposal, to departmental staff, other postgraduate students and others with specialist knowledge in the field of study, which demonstrates, interalia, that: 

  • The candidate is familiar with the main literature in the field
  • There is sufficient scope in the topic for a PhD and there is a clear definition of the hypotheses proposed
  • The candidate has the ability to undertake the work
  • The potential contribution to knowledge has been identified and there is a clear definition of the key questions to be addressed in the context of the proposed hypotheses
  • The method of research is sound and achievable and there is a clear knowledge of the experimental procedures to be used and the methodology to be pursued in analysing the results.

This should be done within 6 (six) months of first registration. The Head of Department then convenes a panel to confirm or reject the candidature and to confirm that:

  • The supervisor has the knowledge to undertake the supervisory task (the unwavering rule must be that if there is not sufficient specialist knowledge within the department in that field, the candidate should not be accepted)
  • The supervisor has sufficient time to undertake the supervisory role adequately (the Head must specifically address issues of equity and balance in teaching loads at this point).

If the panel is satisfied on these issues, the Head recommends acceptance to the Faculty’s Committee of Assessors (COA) and then to the Doctoral Degrees Board (DDB) for final approval. In the event of a seminar being impossible, for logistical or other good reasons, the candidate must produce a major paper which can then be evaluated in the same way.

Upgrading to PhD

It is possible to change the status of registration during the process of study. Thus, it is possible for a Master degree to be upgraded to a PhD if the supervisor believes there is potential in the process to lead to a higher qualification. This would normally occur in the second year of the research process. It is not possible to backdate registration to the first year. However, it must occur well before the dissertation is examined: it is not possible to use the work of the Master degree towards a PhD after the examination process.

Similarly, it is possible to downgrade from a PhD to a Master degree. Again, however, this must occur before examination. It is not possible for a Master degree to result from a failed PhD. It is the responsibility of the supervisor, with the endorsement by the Head of Department, to motivate the upgrade in writing.