Programme description

The MPhil programme specialising in Theories of Justice and Inequality was launched in 2019. Housed in the Department of Sociology, it was conceptualised and initiated as an interdisciplinary programme in collaboration with the Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII). The programme proceeds from the understanding that inequalities in contemporary life take multiple forms. Income-based inequalities are built on and often go together with divisions along ethnic, racial, caste and gender lines. Struggles against these multiple divisions and interacting inequalities on the African continent and global south are at the heart of the programme.

What can we learn from collective struggles to obtain justice and equality of the distant and more recent past? How can they help us grapple with the present social and political predicaments? How might collective endeavours for a just future help us re-imagine and institute democracy, freedom, sovereignty, and a better tomorrow for all? These are some of the questions that students in the programme will be trained to answer from a range of disciplinary standpoints—from the Social Sciences and the Humanities, from Law and from Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

Interdisciplinarity and Sub-specialisations

Students in the programme will be able to tap into histories of liberation struggles, social movements, black radical tradition, human rights, into histories of art-activism, gender-based struggles, struggles for better urban spaces and environmental movements to name a few. Based on student feedback and our own assessment of the structure of the programme, we have developed three sub-specialisations. Students, with the assistance of the programme coordinator and conveners, will choose courses based on their chosen sub-specialisation. For an overview of the course offerings refer to pp138 in the Humanities Postgrad Faculty Handbook.

The sub-specialisations are as follows:

1. Justice in Action: Land, Labour and Livelihoods

2. Arts of Resistance

3. Equality and Social Thought

Who may be interested in this programme?

The programme is aimed at a new generation of scholars and/or members of the civil and political society sectors keen to generate knowledge and theories that abide by concrete realities of life in the Global South. It will appeal to especially those who are keen to bring different methodologies and disciplines together—for instance sociology and law, environmental studies and education, philosophy and arts, politics and literature, as well as film and urban studies, and so forth.

How is the degree structured and how long does it take to complete?

The MPhil degree specialising in Theories of Justice and Inequality runs over two years. In year one, students complete the coursework component with a range of compulsory core and elective courses across faculties, totalling a minimum of 90 credits. In the second year, students focus on conducting independent research and completing their minor dissertation, with a minimum of 90 credits. Depending on the student’s sub-stream, suitable affiliated academic staff based different departments and faculties will be offering supervision.

What are the requirements?

We welcome graduates with a major or specialisation within the Social Sciences and Humanities, as well as students with majors or specialisations in Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Economics, or Law. Students from other specialisations and degrees not mentioned here may be admitted at the discretion of the Conveners and the Postgraduate Committee of the programme. However, kindly note that such students may be required to take appropriate supplementary access courses.

The minimum requirement to this degree is an upper second-class pass for the four-year bachelor’s degree. Applicants to the MPhil specialising in Theories of Justice and Inequality must obtain a strong average for their honour’s coursework as well as a strong mark for the honours independent research project. Other criteria taken into consideration for admission include practical, political or policy work experience where it is relevant to the programme specialisation.

Is there funding available?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply directly to the National Research Foundation (NRF) online application portal for postgraduate funding.The UCT internal deadline varies annually, so please ensure that your application is finalised and submitted before this deadline. For assistance with this and other queries, please consult the Post Graduate Funding Office

In addition to this, applicants are also encouraged to explore other funding opportunities via the postgraduate funding office noticeboard.

How can I apply and when is the closing date?

Candidates applying to the MPhil programme specialising in Theories of Justice and Inequality are required to apply online and include the following supporting documents:

Official transcript and degree certificates

Detailed CV

Letter of motivation

Sample of academic writing

The closing date is 31 October annually.