Contact: Prof Ursula Hoadley   Download a PhD Student & Supervisor Guide    


The School of Education (SoE) aspires to have a leading doctoral programme that develops a new generation of researchers whose work is located at the intersection of context, theory, practice, reflection, and insight. The PhD is by research (i.e. thesis only), and there is no course work. While it is possible to be away from UCT at times during the PhD, we insist that students spend the first six months with us in order to develop their final research proposal. We also strongly recommend that students are in Cape Town for at least the last six months of their write-up.

PhD applications are accepted throughout the year. You may apply online

Admission requirements

  • An appropriate Masters Degree - with an average of 70%.
  • A pre-proposal -  carefully outlining a question an applicant proposes to answer including how s/he proposes to answer the question. 
  • Availability of a supervisor - a pre-proposal is used to gauge the School’s capacity to supervise the proposed research topic.

A pre-proposal serves two purposes:

  • to enable the SoE to read an independent attempt at a proposal by a prospective applicant
  • to assist the SoE in gauging it’s capacity to supervise the proposed topic.


  • When an applicant is offered a place, s/he is required to accept or reject  an offer in writing (via email) to the Faculty Office/Admissions. If the offer is accepted, the applicant then proceeds with registration. From the date of first registration, a student is expected to complete a PhD proposal, under supervision, within six (6) months, otherwise progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory and may not be allowed to continue. 

New registration

  • Although new PhD students may register at any time of the year, it is recommended that registration is done between 1 January – 30 April. 

Final year students

  • To avoid re-registration and hence payment of tuition fees, students are required to submit their thesis by 12h00 on the last day of the year (31 December) or before the start of a new academic term.

Thesis submission dates

When a thesis is nearing the point of completion, the candidate notifies the DDB of intention to submit for examination. 

Intention to submit

  • A notice of Intention to Submit a PhD Thesis is upload on PeopleSoft at least 6 weeks before you actually submit your thesis for examination. 

Thesis submission

  • A thesis is submitted online for examination at least 5 months before the upcoming graduation ceremony. This time is designed to allow for the examination process to run its course. 

NOTE: The length of a PhD thesis may not be more than 80,000 words, unless with permission of the Dean (acting in consultation with the supervisor) upon request to exceed the normal length.

Uploading for examination

  • All documents must be uploaded in PDF format with the exception of the citation and the mini citation which are submitted as Word documents: (see a Quick Reference Guide)

Note: Should you have any technical challenges with the digital submission process or PeopleSoft system, please email Student Systems Support:

Finally, a PhD in Education is awarded at the University convocation held at dates and times set by the University Council.

For enquires, please contact the PhD Programme Convenor:  Prof Ursula Hoadley (Email: