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Research degrees are by dissertation/thesis only.  We offer the following degrees by research:

Faculty rule FM3 and University General Rules apply.

Applicants must have the required academic background and submit an acceptable research proposal for which supervision is available. Research degrees are encouraged where the field of research is clearly defined, the student wishes to concentrate on a specific research topic and has demonstrated the ability to do so.

Examination is by dissertation/thesis alone.

  • A doctoral thesis should not exceed 80,000 words in length.



Fees information can be obtained from the fees office: fnd-fees@uct.ac.za

Fees webpage: www.students.uct.ac.za/students/fees-funding/fees/handbook (for handbook - see link to the right - when in the handbook, search for course code to see fees per course, or look for courses starting "POL")

Research PhD - quick guideline for calculating fees*

Please note that this is an informal guideline. All of the information provided should be verified via the official channels and information.  Check the fee handbook carefully, or with the Fees Office direct if there is anything of which you're not sure.

Factor in the following:

  1. Payment for the thesis - for the first and every subsequent year of registration (see the UCT handbook and search for POL6000W, or POL6001W for PhD)
  2. The annual International Fee (not applicable to local or SADC students) - note, this is levied every year of registration (see Section 5.5 in the UCT Fee handbook)
  3. SADC students - an annual Administrative Service (see Section 5 in the UCT Fee handbook)

The above are examples of the typical tuition costs to consider - accommodation, subsistence and sundries etc. are not included.  There may be other scenarios and circumstances which may have a bearing on the fees levied, and which are covered in the official UCT Fee booklet.


The department does not currently have dedicated departmental funding available.  Any scholarships and bursaries are available solely through, and administered by, the Postgraduate Funding Office.  For more information, on both UCT-administered and independently administered funding, contact the Postgraduate Funding Office (pgfunding@uct.ac.za) or see the www.students.uct.ac.za/students/fees-funding/postgraduate-degree-funding

The deadlines for the UCT-administered awards vary from August to the end of October and usually pre-date the deadline for application submissions, so please get your financial applications in on time if you are considering applying for a degree.

We can't guarantee a response to your study application by the closing dates of funding applications, but UCT's funding office is aware that their deadline dates are not necessarily synchronised to application deadlines. They will facilitate this and this should not deter you from applying for funding in the first place.


Registration takes place after the formal application has been processed and only if a student has been accepted - either provisionally or with full approval.

First-time registrations:

  • New Research degree students may register throughout the academic year but it must be before 1 May if that period of registration is to count as one full academic year of study.  This is pertinent for those candidates who would like to graduate within the minimum legislated time of 2 years (for PhD).
  • If new Research degree students register after 30 June, they are granted a 50% rebate of the annual course fee for that year (see section 7 in the UCT fee handbook). 

Returning candidates: must register by no later than 28 February each year.

PRESENCE ON CAMPUS - being at UCT to do your Research Degree

While it is possible to do the PhD by Research while based outside of Cape Town or South Africa, candidates should note that UCT is not a distance-learning institution.  The expectation is that students are readily available for consultation with their supervisors when required.  Time spent at UCT should also be factored in for presenting your proposal and conducting research on campus, where appropriate.


Contact Ms Kerewin Parfitt (Faculty Administrative officer) for any matters relating to registration:  Kerewin.Parfitt@uct.ac.za