Masters Programmes and PhD

  • Ensure you have made an online application here how to apply. Attach all required documents.  If any of the required documents are not attached your application will be disregarded.
  •  To process your application, we require the following documents:
    1. Academic Transcript (and a SAQA certificate if your qualification is not from a South African institution)
    2. Matric Certificate
    3. ID
    4. Passport if you are a foreign student
    5. A personal motivation explaining why you wish to do a specific programme
    6. Curriculum vitae.
    7. A recent example of your writing. E.g. a research assignment, essay or report
    8. Proof of payment of the application fee
NOTE: ITEMS 5, 6 and  7 must be attached to the “Self Help Applic docs” tab in the online application – IF THESE ARE NOT ATTACHED YOUR APPLICATION WILL BE DISREGARDED. FURTHER:  Please check that you have all these documents attached to your application as once you click on “submit” you cannot go back and amend your application.
  1. UKZN existing students are exempt
  2.  South African Students R210 and
  3.  International Students R470.

Every PG research student is required to submit a brief Research Intent/Concept Note to assist in ascertaining your research interest aand 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


  • 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
  • Research Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis

All applications must contain a concept note. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
Students will be expected to draft their concept note without supervision intervention. Applicants can identify a potential prospective supervisor of their choice in their application and provide that supervisors name. Note, however, that the admission process is competitive, and that having identified a supervisor is no guarantee for admission. Also note that once a successful applicant is identified the school will still have to ascertain if we have the expertise and supervision capacity to supervise that topic.

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.

Closing dates for LLM Coursework Applications- 31 October

No applications will be reviewed in the new year



SALJ style guide

UKZN School of Law style guide

Postgraduate Application Guide

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Pietermaritzburg Campus