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Applying for Coursework Degrees

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APPLICATION DEADLINES FOR POSTGRADUATES (Coursework Honours and Master's)

The department has its own stipulated deadlines (see the boxes below), after which we consider applications to be late and to which we apply a late application policy.

Normal start (first semester starting in mid-February)

Deadlines:
Local applicants:       31 October 
Overseas applicants: 30 September (strongly recommended, but will accept until 31 October)

Bear in mind that if you are coming from overseas you will need to factor in time to sort out accommodation, travel and visa/study permit issues, so apply as early as you can.

UCT students interested in the Honours programmes are encouraged to apply by the close of the 3rd quarter of the academic year. Cases will be decided by, among others, admitting students on a conditional basis; for example, "admitted subject to achieving satisfactory results in the 2nd semester".

Mid-year start (second semester starting in mid-July) - for Master's only

Deadline:  31 October

A mid-year start is possible for Masters students only.  You must still, however, apply by the 31 October deadline.

Applications for a mid-year start are the exception rather than the norm.  While a second semester start can be accommodated, please only elect to do this if you are unable to start in February.

In the event that your final marks are not yet available (i.e. you are still finishing off your studies in the first half of the year), then submit your current transcript - any offers will be conditional on receiving final marks when available.

Apply via the normal application process (*but see the note below).

It is important that you then notify the department postgraduate administrator via email that you have submitted an application for mid-year consideration so that we are aware of your intended start-date.

Late application policy

The department is not obliged to review applications which are submitted after our recommended submission dates.  It has the discretion to review these on a selective basis.

To be considered for review*, late candidates should have at least:

  • two programme-relevant courses (Politics, International Relations, Public Policy) above 70% in their final year of study, or
  • one senior programme-relevant course above 75% in their final year of study, or
  • a GPA above 3.6 (on a 4-point scale).

* Note: meeting these criteria is not a guarantee of acceptance, just an indicator that we might review the late application if time permits, and only if you have met the criteria.

How to request submission of a late application:

  • Check that you fulfil the criteria above.
  • Send an email to the relevant programme convenor titled: "Late application request: <add your name>".
  • State clearly for which degree you wish to be considered.
  • Attach your transcript.
  • Attach two writing samples.

If your marks fulfil the criteria stipulated, the Programme Convenor will inform Central Admissions that an application may be submitted for consideration.  This is not a guarantee of acceptance.  It is an undertaking to review your application if there is time and capacity to do so.

The department does not have the administrative capacity to guarantee responses to late applications or enter into any detailed correspondence.

In addition, the department cannot be held responsible for any logistical problems which may arise in the event that your late application is accepted (such as problems experienced in obtaining visas on time, delays in postal communication, finding accommodation, etc.).


ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS - Honours & Masters

All Programmes - general department criteria

Admission to the Department's programmes is selective and can be highly competitive. The Department admits only those candidates that it judges are likely to complete the degree programme successfully.

Criteria taken into consideration for admission include:

  • academic excellence, indicated by good performance in previous studies;

  • academic potential, indicated by improving performance into and across the final year of previous study; and

  • political, policy or work experience where it is relevant to the programme for which a candidate seeks admission.

Applicants from UCT:

For Honours applicants: Students who do not achieve a minimum of a 65% average in the third year of undergraduate studies at UCT are unlikely to be considered for admission. Conditional offers may be made subject to achieving satisfactory results in the final semester.

For Master’s applicants: UCT applicants must obtain both a strong average for their Honours coursework as well as a strong mark for the Honours independent research project.

Non-UCT applicants:

The same criteria generally apply as for UCT applicants above. The requested supporting documentation (letter of motivation, writing sample) must be supplied and is a determining factor in the assessment.

Admission to Honours degrees in general

For admission at Honours level, students should have a South African Bachelors degree (or equivalent).

Students who have obtained tertiary diplomas may or may not be eligible to study, depending on various factors.  Check your eligibility via the South African Qualifications Authority or, alternatively, your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty on formal application.  Please do not request assessment before applying, as this creates a duplicate assessment process.

International students seeking clarification on their qualifications should see the South African Qualifications Authority website.  They will, for a fee, provide an official evaluation of foreign qualifications and what their equivalencies are with respect to South African qualifications.  Alternatively, your eligibility will be assessed on formal application.  Please do not request assessment before applying, as this creates a duplicate assessment process.

See specific programme requirements below.

Admission to Master's degrees in general

For admission at Masters level students must have a BA (Hons) or BSocSc (Hons) degree or equivalent qualification.

External candidates and UCT Honours students must formally apply via Central Admissions.  For UCT students, the Postgraduate Committee decides when the results of the Honours Independent Projects have become available.

South African Bachelors degrees are three years in duration.  If you have a four-year undergraduate degree, you might be eligible for straight admission into the Masters programme, or admission to Honours with an upgrade option into Masters after a six-month review.

Students who have obtained tertiary diplomas may or may not be eligible to study, depending on various factors.  Check your eligibility via the South African Qualifications Authority or, alternatively, your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty on formal application.  Please do not request assessment before applying, as this creates a duplicate assessment process.

International students seeking clarification on their qualifications should see the South African Qualifications Authority website.  They will, for a fee, provide an official evaluation of foreign qualifications and what their equivalencies are with respect to South African qualifications.  Alternatively, your eligibility will be assessed on formal application.

See specific programme requirements below.


Specific Specialisation Requirements

Honours and Masters Specialisation in International Relations

Programme objectives:

International Relations at the University of Cape Town tries to strike a balance between International Relations as a field of study that evolved over centuries and International Relations as it is currently studied. International Relations as traditionally studied usually meant a focus on three concerns: war, diplomacy and trade. Now described respectively as conflict or security, diplomacy and negotiation and the international political economy, these remain the central subjects we want to study. Our approach also values, however, the contributions of other sub-fields of Political Studies, especially Comparative Politics, and contributions from other disciplines. In International Relations scholarly debates, African cases and issues are crucial and, for this reason, graduates of our programme are often called upon to show their expertise in African and/or Southern African material.

Admission requirements:

Specific additional entry requirements for this specialisation are a past academic history in International Relations, Political Studies/Science or a strong academic background in a related discipline.

Honours and Masters Specialisation in Politics

Programme objectives:

The Honours and Master’s Programmes in Politics are intended, broadly, to develop skills in political research, primarily in the study of national political processes. Students will learn how to use existing literature and theory to ask important research questions, identify appropriate evidence, and to apply relevant methods of analysis. The core courses focus on issues such as comparative politics, political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, democratisation, African and South African politics, and political theory.  The degree comprises coursework and a research project or minor dissertation.

Admission requirements:

Specific additional entry requirements are a major in Political Studies or a strong academic background in a related discipline (e.g. Public Administration, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Criminology, Law, History or Philosophy).

Honours and Masters Specialisation in Justice and Transformation

This interdisciplinary specialisation is offered in collaboration with departments in the Humanities Faculty, the UCT Law Faculty, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).

Specialisation objectives:

This Honours/Master’s specialisation has been designed to locate current concerns and topical interests in justice and transformation in the more general perspectives of normative theory and comparative studies. It is inspired by the new directions in writing, research and teaching generated by the South African TRC-process but not confined to these. Instead, it links these new research interests and current debates in the area of transitional justice (including human rights law, conflict-resolution and peace-building, and social justice in transformation) with the more lasting intellectual perspectives provided by a thorough grounding in relevant academic disciplines.

Admission requirements:

At Honours level: a first degree majoring with an upper 2nd or close approximation. At Master’s level: a good Honours degree or its equivalent.

Applicants should ideally have a major in, or some exposure to, Politics as an undergraduate subject. However, depending on which area of concentration the applicant is interested in, the following additional study backgrounds may be taken into account when assessing applications:

Transitional Justice

Majors in Politics, History, Philosophy, Sociology, Literature

Human Rights

Senior courses in Law, LLB

Conflict Resolution

Majors in Politics, Psychology, Social Anthropology, Sociology

Social Justice in Transformation

Majors in Politics, Sociology, Social Anthropology, Psychology, Development Studies

Prescribed curriculum:

The full specialisation comprises 4 semester courses in each of the Honours and Master’s years plus an independent research project at Honours level and a Master’s minor dissertation component allowing exit options after the first year with an Honours degree and entry options at Master’s level. The specialisation offers a choice between two core courses and a selection of electives in the areas of Transitional Justice, Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Social Justice in Transformation. 

Honours and Masters Specialisation in Public Policy and Administration

The Honours and Master’s Programmes in Public Policy and Administration (PPA) has two main objectives:

  • Firstly, the programme is designed to engender in its students the capacity to think objectively and analytically about the policy process;
  • Secondly, it aims to provide students with a theoretical and empirical understanding of comparative and South African public administration.

Furthermore, the programme aims to help students become more effective as policy makers, public servants, researchers or policy analysts. We are also interested in developing the next generation of public policy and administration scholars.

Students studying for Honours and MPhil over two years will explore, inter alia, the academic analysis of public policy, the role and limitations of professional policy analysis, changes in the character of public management and administration, and comparative public administration. In addition, students acquire skills in research methods, and develop knowledge of a specific aspect of policy making or public administration in contemporary South Africa in a chosen 'field of concentration'. After completing an Honours project that surveys academic literature and policy experience in an area, students who proceed to Master’s will have the opportunity to work on a minor dissertation in their designated field. The programme is also open at Master’s level to students with appropriate academic backgrounds.

Admission requirements

For admission at Honours level, students must have successfully completed a Bachelor’s degree. For admission to the MPhil programme, students must have successfully completed an Honours degree. Students should have a background in economics, public administration, politics, African Studies, law, gender studies, philosophy, the social sciences or related disciplines.

Please note that admission to our programme is highly competitive and not all applicants will be accepted.

Honours and Masters in Politics, Philosophy and Economics

This is a joint programme offered by the Departments of Philosophy, Political Studies and Economics. Please check with relevant departments to ensure your electives will be offered in your chosen year of study.

General Convener:     Dr G Hull (Philosophy)
Politics Advisor:            Dr Zwelethu Jolobe
Economics Advisor:      Professor J Burns

Programme Structure: 
The PPE programme is an interdisciplinary programme incorporating courses and research in the three disciplines of Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  Students entering the programme must identify their primary disciplinary focus in order to be placed in a home department.  While all PPE students will complete at least one course in each of the disciplines, their research (Honours project or Masters minor dissertation) will be based in their home department, with registration and supervision complying with that department’s requirements.  

General Admission requirements:
For general admission into the programme, at both Honours and Masters level, students must have successfully completed: 
•     A major, or its equivalent, in either Politics, Philosophy or Economics,
•     At least first year, defined as at least two semester courses at first year level, in each of the other two disciplines (excluding the major).

Acceptance to the programme is at the discretion of the Programme Convener and requires the recommendation of the Head of the Department in the home department selected by the applicant.

Admission requirements per home department: 
In addition to the above requirements, there are additional, specific requirements per home department. 

Minimum admission requirements for Economics as home department:
For Honours: 65% average for ECO3020F and ECO3021S, with no course less than 60%.  Acceptance is conditional on passing the pre-Maths and Stats course ECO4112F.  
For Masters: An overall average result of not less than 65% must be achieved at Honours level. 

Minimum admission requirements for Politics as home department:
For Honours: 68% average for at least two senior Politics courses. See Political Studies section in the Humanities Faculty Handbook for further details of criteria taken into consideration in admission.
For Masters: An overall average result of not less than 65% must be achieved at Honours level, plus a strong performance in the Honours research component.

Minimum admission requirements for Philosophy as a home department:
For Honours: 70% average for the Philosophy major. Students who do not quite achieve this mark may be admitted to the programme at the discretion of the Head of Department.
For Masters: An overall average result of not less than 70% must be achieved at Honours level, plus a strong performance in the Honours research component. Students who do not quite achieve this mark may be admitted to the programme at the discretion of the Head of Department.


If you have not studied Politics or related courses

An applicant who has no academic background in Politics, or the disciplines related to his/her intended programme, is unlikely to be accepted.  In order to be considered for such a disciplinary shift, applicants would need to have a demonstrably exceptional academic record. Namely, a strong distinction record or grade point average of 3.8 and above.

When in doubt about your eligibility

We request that you do not contact the department to enquire about your eligibility for the programmes.  Assessment is done via the UCT formal application, which includes supporting documentation such as a letter of motivation and writing samples (see application process).  We do not have the administrative capacity to pre-assess candidates to gauge whether they have the required background or not.  Use the information provided to make a judgement as best you can.  International students can also make use of the SAQA service (South African Qualifications Authority).  They will, for a fee, provide an official evaluation of foreign qualifications and what their equivalencies are with respect to South African qualifications.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Students who do not have the necessary tertiary qualifications may be eligible for entry on the basis of sufficient experience, maturity and/or prior learning. Information on the application process may be found on the Humanities website.


THE APPLICATION PROCESS

Applications can be done either online or via hard copy forms.  You do not need to fill in hard copy applications if you have applied online.

Online method:

See the UCT Applications page for the online application.  We encourage that you apply via this route.  You will be asked to provide supporting documentation as part of your application.

Current UCT students are required to apply online, not via paper forms (note: UCT students do not have to provide transcripts).

Forms: (for those unable to apply online)

The UCT application forms, as well as supporting information, can be found on the UCT Applications page.

We are unable to confirm in the department whether a hard copy application has arrived or not, so please contact Central Admissions if you are concerned that your application hasn't arrived.

Writing Sample

You must submit a sample of your best academic work as part of the official application.  Submit this online when applying, or include it in your application if you are submitting a hard copy.

Notes about the writing sample:

  • It must be in English.  If you need to translate it into English, this should be done by yourself.
  • It could be an assignment or research paper from a recent course, or any other appropriate piece of academic writing.
  • There is no length stipulation.
  • If your sample was graded, indicate what grade you received or scan in the graded version.
  • Make sure your name is stated on the top.

Letter of Motivation

You should also submit a letter of motivation as part of your formal application, motivating why are you choosing this particular degree and specialisation.  You could also indicate any other factors which you think might strengthen your chances of selection or which we should know about (including pressures affecting performance, relevant work experience, voluntary work, interests, etc.).  There is no length stipulation.


RESPONSE TIMES - coursework applications

Applications are assessed on a rolling basis.  The assessment period usually starts towards the end of July.  We endeavour to have all applications assessed by mid-December latest, assuming that applications are submitted by the recommended deadlines.

Applications received after the recommended deadlines will be assessed selectively and response times are dependent on staff availability and administrative capacity (see our late application policy).

All decisions will be relayed to you by the Humanities faculty or you may check your status online. The department does not convey outcomes. The department's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

All successful applicants should confirm their intention to take up their place by December 15 or as soon as possible thereafter.

To help facilitate the process, please make sure that you supply ALL documentation that is requested.

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