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Postgraduate Degree Processes

Postgraduate students are advised to regularly monitor the postgraduate website on Vula for information such as updates, notifications, deadlines, funding and so forth.


The Honours convenor for our Division is currently Dr. J. Friedling, for Honours related queries email her.

Application process:

To apply for an Honours in Applied Anatomy or Biological Anthropology please contact the postgraduate office. An Honours application must be submitted online via the website of the University of Cape Town. The application process usually closes between July and August. Students should expect to receive feedback on their application between October and February. An Honours degree must be completed in a year and funding bodies will fund students only for this period of time.


  • NRF funding: Available through the National Research Foundation. Applications usually open in May closes in October.
  • UCT Merit and Need funding: Students are encouraged to apply for both NRF and UCT funding. Only those who have submitted an application to the NRF are permitted to apply to UCT for funding. To apply for this funding, submit Form 10A to the Postgraduate Funding Office before the closing date.
  • Harry Crossley Research Foundation Fellowship: This is awarded to student based on academic merit and financial need.

Honours Programme:

The Honours programme is jointly run across the Faculty of Health Sciences. A student who is enrolled would be registered for Bachelor of Medical Science Honours (BMedSci, Hons) within the programme. Two options that are run through our Division are to specialise in Applied Anatomy or Biological Anthropology. The Honours programme is completed over one year and consists of teaching modules followed by a research project.

Teaching Module:

The academic year begins with an intense method module, which is aimed at exposing students to basic and advanced techniques and their application to the biomedical sciences. Additionally, our students undertake a full course in gross anatomy, including full body dissection. Students are also expected to attend a science & communication module that runs throughout the academic year and exposes students to concepts of research and equips them for scientific writing and comprehension.

In addition, students need to attend four programme modules. Each module covers a specific field and generally runs over a three-week period. Students are assessed during each module and there is an examination at the end of the first semester. Three modules should be in the list of programme modules appropriate to the chosen stream (as in those offered by our Division for Applied Anatomy and Biological Anthropology) and one more module from the same stream or any of the other Honours course offered through the broader Honours Programme within the Faculty.

Research Project:

The research project begins in April and ends in October. Students choose their research topic from a variety of projects offered by researchers within the Division. During the period of the research project, students will be guided by their supervisor and should also receive necessary guidance and help from the supervisor’s research group. Normally around October students are required to write and present a research project report (Mini-thesis) and write a comprehension examination. Exact choices and descriptions of the modules, content and research projects on offer will be distributed to you at the appropriate time during the year.



Application process:

The application process is governed through the postgraduate office. However, students will be expected to have a faculty member whom has agreed to supervise.

After acceptance:

Student and supervisor will fill out an abridged MOU, declaring the project and supervisor of the student to the faculty. Our academic year runs from January to December and registration is at the beginning of the academic year. Please remain in contact with the postgraduate office.

Division requirements:

Written proposal ---------------------- Oral presentation ------------------------------ Research Approval

For a Masters degree the student needs to demonstrate they have mastered the scientific method, a research degree is 2 years, the first 6 months should be focused on preparation of the proposal and setting up the project including completing their application for ethics if required. The data collection and write up should be feasible within a year to one and half years for the student to complete the degree on time. See table below, no additional fees will be charged as long as they are submitted before the 1st day of the new academic term in Feb of year 3. In terms of size for a thesis an MSc should result in one publishable paper and at most two.

For a PhD in addition to incorporating the scientific method, the student must make a new/novel contribution to their discipline. A research PhD should be completed in 3 years, the first 6 months should be focused on preparation of the proposal and setting up the project including completing their application for ethics if required. The data collection and write up should be feasible within two or two and half years for the student to complete the degree on time. See table below, no additional fees will be charged as long as they are submitted before the 1st day of the new academic term in Feb of year 4. In terms of size for a thesis a PhD should result in two publishable papers and at most three.

Submit final draft to Supervisor/s

Submit for examination


As soon as possible



As soon as possible




Written proposal guidelines:

Written proposal should be 8-10 pages in length, 1.5 spacing, referencing according to an agreed style guide with your supervisor and it should be used consistently, commonly Harvard Style is used, 12 point times new Roman or Calibri text, with page numbers. The research should centre on a clear and concise hypothesis/aim, the objectives should serve to answer the hypothesis/aim. The proposal should demonstrate a comprehensive literature review, hypothesis/aim with an outline of materials and methods for the project. Needs to be approved by supervisor at which stage they will organise the oral presentation.

Proposal presentation:

Once the written proposal is approved by supervisor, he/she will arrange the oral project proposal with the Division. Ideally circulate written project proposal to Division Faculty 1 week before proposal oral presentation. The presentation is approximately 15-20 minutes followed by a Q&A period. Students should ensure the research is clearly presented so the project can be assessed by the Division, slides should be referenced and any feedback provided should be incorporated into the written proposal.

Proposal approval:

The supervisor will choose two academic readers for the written proposal who are required to approve the proposal. The student must incorporate feedback from oral presentation and readers of the written proposal. After proposal is approved by both readers and the supervisor. Complete the following forms available on the postgraduate Vula site (only accessible to PG students, not their supervisors): R2 – Student Ethics Application Checklist form; FHS013 – New Protocol for Human Ethical Clearance Application Form (if required); D1 – Form Approval of Study proposal; D2(a) – HSF Memorandum of Understanding between postgraduate student and supervisor; D3–Supervisor Appointment form. Submit all completed forms together with your completed protocol and synopsis to the Administrative Assistant in Room 5.14 on level 5 of Anatomy Building, who will arrange for signatures from the Chair or Deputy Chair of Departmental Research Committee and Head of Division or Head of Department. The Administrative Assistant will contact the student to collect the signed forms. The forms are to be scanned, submit originals and copy of your protocol, synopsis and application forms to: PG Health Sciences. Send scanned copy to supervisor and cc Administrative Assistant. You may now begin your research!

Division readers:

As a reader and Division Faculty it is out role to ensure the feasibility of the study and research in terms of financial requirements and time requirements. It is important to assess the scientific validity of the hypothesis/aim and that the objectives can be used to answer the outlined objective. For a PhD it is also important to assess the new contribution to the field the study will make.

Research and progress reports: Monitor postgraduate Vula site normally mid-late year.

Final Examination:

One month prior to submission, the student must submit an intention to submit (forms are available on Vula). The PG office will then contact the supervisor and provide the external examiner nominee forms. The nomination of examiners is a confidential process and students may not know who the nominees or examiners are.

The supervisor must approach nominees and once they confirm they are willing to examine complete the nomination form, which needs to be signed by HOD then be sent to the PG/doctoral office. The whole process is confidential. For an individual thesis examiners may not be from the same institution.  For an MSc two external examiners are required, one must be international and one national, the postgraduate office can request a third nominee just in case one is unavailable. For a PhD three external examiners are required, two international and one national, the doctoral office may request an additional two nominees in case one is unavailable.