School of Law

Postgraduate Studies

Postgraduate Studies

In line with a University-wide decision, the School of Law is not able to admin any more postgraduate students for this year, 2020. Please apply for 2021.

Each application must contain the following information:

  1. Complete online application via
  2. The applicant’s academic record.
  3. A one-page personal statement, giving background on the applicant and his/her motivation for wanting to do the particular LLM.
  4. A curriculum vitae.
  5. An example of academic or professional writing, done within the past three years.
  6. For a research LLM, the candidate must also submit a concept note.

PhD Thesis/Masters dissertation: Research Intent (RI)

Every PG research student is required to submit a brief Research Intent/Concept Note to assist in ascertaining your research interest and assigning a suitable supervisor.

Please prepare your research intent (concept note) under the following headings and according to the guidelines in each section (not all the guidelines need necessarily apply). The length of the RI should not exceed 3 pages for a master’s dissertation and 5 pages for a doctoral thesis. You will be required to develop a more detailed Research Proposal under the guidance of your research supervisor, and which you will present at the School Higher Degrees and Research committee for approval of your study.

  1. Short descriptive title (15 words)
  • title: subtitle only where strictly necessary (e.g. case study)
  • avoid academic clichés: “analysis of/ study of/ investigation into …”
  • remember: title must direct a potential researcher to your
  1. Background and outline of the research problem
  • a little more detailed explanation of the research problem indicated in (1 above)
  • pose the research question/problem/hypothesis (state what the dissertation/thesis will deal with)
  1. Preliminary literature study (if possible), and reasons for choosing topic
  • provide a rationale for the research project and explain whether these or related questions have been asked before, and what answers have been obtained – i.e. outline, evaluate and synthesise current state of critical/ theoretical debate
  • identify limitations of past research, and explain your point of entry into the debate (identify gaps/misinterpretation/ errors/ contradictions/ particular critical or theoretical problems)
  1. Research problems and objectives: Key questions to be asked
  • these are the questions essential for consideration of the main topic
  • clarity is all-important so you need to reduce all you want to discover to a series of  specific questions
  • avoid a ‘fishing’ approach to research ie collecting material, applying a number of statistical techniques ‘to see what will come out’
  1. Principal theories upon which the research will be constructed (research design)
  • select an appropriate research design, e.g. an empirical study using primary data (survey, experiment, case study) or an empirical study using analysing existing data
  • a non-empirical study: philosophical analysis, conceptual analysis, theory building, literature review
  1. Research methodology
  • sketch the research approach; identify the appropriate population which you will sample; describe procedures to collect data
  • identify the techniques, methods, and instruments you will use for measurement
  1. Structure of dissertation/thesis
  • list the expected chapters in the thesis/dissertation
  1. References (Optional)
  • list similar or parallel work done in your discipline, in cognate disciplines in the University, other universities in South Africa, and  abroad, where relevant (unpublished masters dissertations and doctoral theses)
  • a select, not full, bibliography to demonstrate that you have done SOME  literature search for the research topic


Closing dates for LLM Coursework Applications

  • Closing dates for LLM Coursework Applications- 31 October
  • Late applications 30 November
No applications will be reviewed in the new year

Applications for the Research LLM Programme will be reviewed two times in a year.

Research Application deadline

  • Semester 1 Admissions October to Middle of January of the year of admission
  • Semester 2 Admissions End of February to Middle of April of the year of admission
 Application deadlineApplication outcome
Quarter 1 AdmissionsEnd of November the preceding yearMiddle of January of the year of admission
Quarter 2 AdmissionsEnd of February of the year of admissionMiddle of April of the year of admission
Quarter 3 AdmissionsEnd of May of the year of admissionMiddle of July of the year of admission
Quarter 4 AdmissionsEnd of August of the year of admissionMiddle of October of the year of admission

All applications must contain a concept note. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applicants are encouraged to identify and engage with prospective supervisors. This can assist applicants in identifying relevant themes, and in writing good concept notes. Note, however, that the admission process is competitive, and that having identified a supervisor is no guarantee for admission.

Decisions on applications are communicated to students via email. Please ensure you use an active email address. There is no appeal against a non-admission decision; however, unsuccessful applicants are welcome to re-apply in a subsequent quarter with a revised concept note. Re-applications are limited to one per year.


SALJ style guide

UKZN School of Law style guide

Postgraduate Application Guide

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