The General Rules for Doctors' degrees shall apply.
Refer also the relevant pages of the General Prospectus.

Admission requirements

  • A cognate master’s degree by research only, passed with at least 60% or an equivalent grade that reflects a relevant standard of knowledge in a particular field as well as research competence


  • A cognate master’s degree by course work and research, with the treatise or mini-dissertation passed with at least 60% or an equivalent grade. In addition, a pass of at least 60% or an equivalent grade should have been attained for each of the course work modules.
  • Candidates who have completed their master’s degree by course work and treatise or mini-dissertation may be required to do and pass an approved research methodology module, at the appropriate level, with at least a 60% or an equivalent grade, should such a module not have been included in their learning programme.
  • Candidates who have not met all of the criteria as outlined above, may apply for provisional registration for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and will be required to register for and pass, with at least 60% or an equivalent grade, a module or modules as recommended by the HOD for approval by the RTI Committee of the relevant School within the Faculty;

Conditions that apply

  1. Timeous application is required to allow for a thorough adjudication of applications.
  2. Applicants, as part of their application, need to present a preliminary proposal outlining the focus and nature of the intended research and their full CV.
  3. Upon application, candidates, who have not previously studied at Nelson Mandela University, will be required to submit an official, verified transcript of their academic record that, where applicable, includes the syllabus of each module passed in their preceding degree programme together with a copy of the research project, mini-dissertation or treatise.
  4. The acceptance of an application is subject to the availability of the implied supervisory capacity, both in terms of time and expertise.


International students who have completed previous qualifications in a language other than English must submit proof of English language proficiency reflecting minimum adequate scores as follows:

v  IELTS:6.5 minimum overall score with minimums of 6 in each                     section;


  • Paper-based (PBT) – 580 minimum overall score with minimums of 53 in listening, 52  in reading and 59  in structure/written;
  • Computer-based (CBT): 237 minimum overall score with minimums of 19 in listening, 19 in reading and 25 in structure/written;
  • Internet-based (IBT): 92 minimum overall score with minimums of 18 in listening, 17 in reading, 22 in writing and 22 in speaking.



The programme of study shall extend over a minimum period of two years and a maximum period of six years (General Rule G4.2 applies).


The research thesis is a substantial research piece of at least 100,000 words in the body of the dissertation, based on primary research conducted by the student with promoter provided. The research must make a significant contribution to the development studies discourse.

Learning Outcomes

Identify, design and conduct research in a relevant Development Studies area resulting in a research thesis. The knowledge you create should have relevance beyond a single case and contribute to a wider discourse, theory or debate in the field of Development Studies.  One peer-reviewed journal article. 

Core Content

  • Identifying Research Problem/s
  • Research Proposal approved by RTI
  • Research Design and Methodology
  • This knowledge must be generated through rigorous scientific methods
  • Research thesis 


Formal Examination of the Thesis by promoter/s and a minimum of two external examiners and one interal examiner (not the supervisor). 



Pre-Requisites for this Module

No pre-requisite module required however the student must have proven prior research experience.

Co-Requisites for This Module


Please refer to the Application Procedure page and the link below for application details

Contact information
Dr Amanda van den Berg
Tel: 27 41 504 4275