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MA and PhD Research Proposals

An initial research proposal must accompany your application for an MA by dissertation only or a PhD. It should give an indication of the research you wish to pursue, but the proposal itself can be further revised in consultation with your supervisor/s within three months after registration for an MA applicant, and within six months of registration for a PhD applicant.

The initial proposal might usefully begin by stating what your thesis is about; then establishing its originality and significance in terms of a literature review of relevant existing work in the field; then by a section on sources/methodology: including here perhaps major theoretical influences on your approach.

If you need further advice about your proposal you should contact the MA convenor, Associate Professor Adam Mendelsohn; or one of the PhD convenors, Associate Professor Shamil Jeppie or Dr Mandisa Mbali

What to do post-registration confirmation of MA or PhD Research Proposal

The Department requires all newly registered Research Masters and PhD candidates to present their Research Proposal in seminar form to the department. This would normally be about three months after initial registration for Masters students and six months for PhD students.

The proposal presented should follow the format below. It should incorporate any changes of focus/approach or additional ideas/directions/readings from the proposal that was part of the student’s original application to UCT that may have arisen  (e.g.in discussion with his/her supervisor/s) since registration. :

- The revised proposal should be approximately 5-7 pages long for MA students and 7-10 pages for PhD students

- Students should note that the purpose of the proposal document is to make a case for the research to be undertaken. It is not a progress report.

- The document should include:

- An explanation of the need for the research to be done

- A summary of the essential background literature

- The hypotheses / objectives of the research

- The key questions to be addressed in the research

 - The approach to be taken in doing the project, viz, methodology, sources etc

 - Envisaged chapter breakdown

It should be emphasized that the above procedures are not intended to do anything other than ensure that all concerned with the pursuit of the MA (notably the postgraduate student and supervisor) or PhD are given or provide every possible support in order to ensure the successful completion of the thesis.