Masters and PhD

Admission

Admission for Masters studies

The normal requirement for admission to a Masters degree at Rhodes is a four-year qualification of an acceptably high standard, i.e. usually a three-year Bachelors degree, plus a good Honours degree in a relevant subject.

Minimum requirement for admission is a Bachelor Degree with Honours in Human Kinetics and Ergonomics or any other course providing the required basic knowledge. Final admission will be based on merit, depending on number of applicants, staffing and laboratory equipment resources.

 Admission for PhD studies

Rhodes University rules stipulate that a candidate wishing to apply for admission to a PhD programme must have:

  • a recognised Masters degree, or
  • a recognised Honours, or a four-year Bachelors degree plus at least one year’s registration for an approved Masters degree, or
  • a recognised three-year Bachelors degree plus at least two years’ registration for an approved Masters degree, or
  • a recognised LLB degree or any qualification recognised by the Senate as being equivalent, or
  • in special circumstances, at the discretion of Senate, an approved Bachelors degree or qualification recognised by the Senate as equivalent.

In practice, most PhD candidates have a Masters degree. However, Senate may, on the recommendation of the Faculty concerned, convert the registration of a candidate for the Masters degree to registration for a PhD degree. Such conversions require the Head of Department and supervisor to be satisfied that the student’s completed work is of a standard normally expected of a doctoral student, that the student is capable of completing a doctoral degree and that the project is of a level and scope expected of a PhD study. Applications for conversion should normally be submitted for consideration to the Higher Degrees Committee of the appropriate Faculty between 12 to 18 months after first registration for the Masters degree. Please note: The relevant Higher Degrees Committee should be consulted for information on specific rules and criteria that may apply to upgrades in that Faculty.

Degree structure

The following information has been taken from the Rhodes University Higher Degrees Guide. For more detailed information please refer to this guide which can be found at: http://www.ru.ac.za/documents/Research/higherdegreesguide.pdf.

Honours Modules

Although Masters and PhD studies do not have a coursework component, postgraduate students are welcome to participate in Honours modules of their interest. Once they have indicated their interest in partaking in selected modules Masters and PhD students must commit to the same DP rules and regulations as the Honours students and complete all assignments and exams for that/those module(s). Candidates who pass the module requirements will receive an accreditation for that/those module(s).

Research Proposals

Candidates registered with the Faculty of Humanities are required to submit research proposals within three to six months of registration for consideration by the relevant Faculty Higher Degrees Committee which recommends acceptance or otherwise to the relevant Faculty Board. Guidelines for the structure of a research proposal can be found in the RU Higher Degrees Guide.
For candidates registering for a Masters of PhD degree in the Faculties of Science in 2013, the faculty decided to change the rules for topics and abstracts as follows: for registration the candidate submits a working title for her/his thesis. An abstract with the research program is then due after one semester. This abstract will be approved by faculty (that appoints a kind of Higher Degrees committee for evaluation).

Duration

Masters

The minimum period that a candidate may be registered for a Masters degree is as follows: a full-time Masters candidate may obtain the degree one year after being awarded an Honours degree. Part-time Masters candidates must be registered for two years before they can graduate.

If a candidate has not completed a Masters degree within three years from first registration (whether the degree is being taken full or part-time, and whether in attendance or not), the registration will be cancelled unless the Senate is satisfied that an extension is warranted.

PhD

The minimum period for which a candidate may be registered for the PhD degree is three years if the candidate holds an Honours degree, or two years if the candidate holds a Masters degree.

If a candidate has not completed a PhD within five years from first registration (whether the degree is being taken full or part-time, and whether in attendance or not), the registration will be cancelled unless the Senate is satisfied that an extension is warranted.

(Re)Registration

All higher degree candidates are required to re-register each year until the completion of the degree. Failure to re-register before 15 February in a given year will result in the cancellation of registration and such a defaulter may be required to reapply for admission as a candidate for the degree ab initio.

Supervision

The following excerpts have been taken from the Higher Degrees Guide, which can be accessed on http://oldwww.ru.ac.za/research/pdfs/hd_guide_jd_2007_for_web.pdf.

Senate appoints at least one, and occasionally more than one supervisor, for each higher degree candidate. If more than one supervisor is appointed, one of the supervisors will be designated as the principal supervisor.

Students' and supervisors' expectations and understandings of what constitutes supervision are often very different also and the one-on-one relationship of student to supervisor can compound such difficulties. The Rhodes University Higher Degrees Guide lists the following responsibilities of supervisors and students. For a complete list of responsibilities, please consult the Higher Degrees Guide.

The responsibilities of the supervisor

Before the project begins it is the responsibility of the supervisor:

  • to become familiar with the administrative regulations pertaining to Higher Degrees and with the Higher Degrees Guide and to direct the candidate accordingly;
  • to become acquainted with support services available at the University such as the library and computing services and to ensure that the candidate is aware of such services and makes use of them where appropriate;
  • to choose candidates carefully with regard to the abilities of the candidate, the facilities and expertise available in the Department, and with a realistic assessment of the time which the supervisor will be able to devote to the supervision of the project;
  • to assist the candidate where possible to obtain financial support for the research project;
  • to inform the candidate of any areas in which the supervision may be lacking in the expertise necessary for proper supervision and to recommend co-supervision where appropriate;
  • to inform the candidate, before the research begins, of any risks involved in the project, e.g. possible unavailability of data;
  • where appropriate, to clearly indicate to candidates what may be expected of them in terms of field trips, use of hazardous chemicals, etc.

During the course of the project it is the responsibility of the supervisor:

  • to negotiate with the candidate mutually acceptable arrangements regarding the sequence of tasks to be undertaken, target dates, submission of work for scrutiny and to set up a schedule of meetings between supervisor and candidate;
  • to give guidance in the formulation of the research proposal, to ensure that the candidate is conversant with the relevant research methods and techniques and, where necessary, to help the candidate to acquire the relevant research skills;
  • to ensure that the research conducted by the candidate complies with commonly accepted ethical standards for research in the discipline;
  • to be available for guidance and discussion and to be prompt and comprehensive in response to stages of work completed, in accordance with mutually agreed arrangements in terms of (a) above;
  • to motivate and encourage the candidate and to endeavour to maintain a positive attitude to the research and the candidate;
  • to alert the candidate to the academic requirements, the standard of language required, and any special conventions necessary in the presentation of a thesis;
  • to ensure at all times that the candidate is aware of inadequate or sub-standard work in order to avoid misdirection and wasted effort. This responsibility would include alerting the candidate to substandard linguistic ability;
  • to advise on the organisation and style of the thesis. The responsibility of the supervisor does not necessarily extend to the correcting of grammar, spelling and punctuation throughout the thesis;
  • to provide the opportunity for the candidate’s work to be critically assessed by others with expertise in the field of study (for example, the research proposal should be presented, in seminar form, to the candidate’s peers and interested academic staff and the supervisor should encourage the candidate to present papers at conferences and, where appropriate, to submit articles to relevant journals while their work is in progress);
  • to bring cases of conflict between the supervisor and the candidate to the attention of the Head of Department or, where the supervisor is the Head of Department, to the Dean of the Faculty;
  • to keep accurate records of the supervision process. The method of recording this process should be arrived at by mutual consent;
  • to provide the candidate with access to the record of the supervisory practice on a regular basis. This record should be signed by both candidate and supervisor;
  • to remind the candidate to submit an annual progress report and to submit a supervisor’s annual report to the Registrar;
  • to ensure, as far as the supervisor is able, that the thesis will meet the standards likely to be required by the external examiners.

At the conclusion of the project it is the responsibility of the supervisor:

  • to impress on the candidate the need to check drafts of the thesis for possible errors and instances of possible plagiarism before the thesis is copied and bound;
  • where required, to assist the Dean and Faculty in the case of Masters candidates, and the Committee of Assessors (COA) in the case of Doctoral candidates, with the nomination of examiners;
  • to submit a report if required to the Registrar on the manner in which the research was conducted;
  • in the case of Doctoral candidates, to decide whether it is necessary to make any additional statement on the project or candidate to the Committee of Assessors;

The responsibilities of the candidate

Before the project begins it is the responsibility of the candidate:

  • to be fully informed about the degree requirements and procedures at Rhodes University;
  • to prepare thoroughly for the research project;
  • to ensure that the proposed research project will not duplicate previous research;
  • to be prepared to adopt a serious approach to the task;
  • to arrange financial support for the project, where appropriate, and pay the required admission and registration fees;
  • to be satisfied that the supervisor is capable of performing the supervision at the required level;
  • to be fully informed about the University policy on plagiarism;
  • to be fully informed on the procedure for referencing websites

During the course of the project it is the responsibility of the candidate:

  • to maintain a professional attitude to, and relationship with, the supervisor(s), sponsors and any other members of the research group;
  • to negotiate with the supervisor, mutually acceptable arrangements regarding the sequence of tasks to be undertaken, target dates, submission of work for scrutiny and the schedule of meetings between supervisor and candidate;
  • to be fully prepared for supervisory meetings;
  • to take the initiative in making and maintaining contact with the supervisor and in bringing to the supervisors attention any research related problems which the candidate may be experiencing;
  • to make positive suggestions to the supervisor about the next stage of the work;
  • to become familiar with the relevant literature in the field;
  • to be aware that while the responsibility for the research rests ultimately with the candidate who must ensure that there is conformity with the University regulations, the advice of the supervisor concerning ethical issues within the research design and procedure, and the use of special apparatus and materials, should not be ignored;
  • to record and report observations honestly and to examine experimental approaches critically;
  • to acknowledge accurately all sources of information used and assistance received and to ensure that all material complies with the University policy on plagiarism;

At the conclusion of the project it is the responsibility of the candidate:

  • to follow the procedures laid down for preparation, submission and examination of the thesis;
  • to take responsibility for stylistic presentation of the thesis, including grammar, spelling and punctuation. The supervisor should not be expected to check grammar, spelling, typographical errors, corrections of references, etc;
  • to acknowledge accurately all sources of information used and information received;
  • to check the thesis with text-matching software in order to avoid possible instances of plagiarism.

Examination Criteria

Criteria for the award of a higher degree by thesis

Senate has set the following guidelines for the award of higher degrees by thesis (taken from the RU Higher Degrees Guide)

Masters

A thesis for the degree of Master must show that the candidate:

  • is sufficiently acquainted with the appropriate methods and techniques of research;
  • is sufficiently acquainted with the relevant literature;
  • has both satisfactorily understood the nature of the problem or topic and assessed the significance of the findings;
  • has satisfactorily presented the results of independent research for the award of the degree in a manner which is satisfactory as to literary style and presentation, and free from grammatical and typographical errors.

When the award of the degree with distinction is under consideration, examiners are asked to look for evidence of real methodological and conceptual skills, clarity of exposition and development of argument, sound judgement, originality of approach, and some contribution to knowledge, and require that the thesis should reflect literary skills appropriate to the subject.

PhD

A thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy must show that the candidate:

  • is sufficiently acquainted with the appropriate methods of research;
  • is sufficiently acquainted with the relevant literature;
  • has satisfactorily presented the results of independent research for the award of the degree;
  • has made a substantial and original contribution to knowledge in the discipline, the substance of which is worthy of publication in a scholarly journal or book. (A Doctoral thesis differs from a Masters thesis particularly in respect to this point). In addition, the thesis must be satisfactory as to literary style and presentation. A PhD thesis cannot be merely a collection of published papers, nor may such published papers be included as annexures or inserts.

Submission of the thesis

It is the responsibility of candidates to decide when they are ready to submit their theses (subject, of course, to the rule concerning the period of registration). In general, a candidate will be expected to submit the thesis only when their supervisor agrees to its submission, but the University will not insist on the approval of the supervisor before accepting submission of the thesis. It must be noted, however, that a thesis may be submitted for examination only once, though in certain circumstances the examiners may invite a candidate to revise and re-submit the thesis.

Intention to Submit

A thesis may be submitted at any time during the year, but candidates must indicate their intention to submit a thesis by writing to the Registrar at least two months prior to submission for Masters and for Doctoral theses.

Candidates who intend to submit a thesis for examination for consideration of the award of the degree at an April graduation ceremony must submit their thesis to the Registrar not later than 15 December. If a candidate cannot meet the annual deadline for submission, the University may be unable to have the examination completed in time for the next set of graduation ceremonies, which normally takes place in April each year.

Candidates will be supplied with a “Supervisors statement” form, an examination entry form, a declaration form and thesis electronic access approval form which should accompany the thesis when it is submitted.

Declaration of Originality

A thesis must be accompanied by a declaration on the part of the candidate as to the extent to which it represents their own work. Candidates are also required to submit a statement certifying that the thesis has not been submitted for a degree at any other university. A standard form for this purpose will be issued when candidates inform the Registrar that a thesis is to be submitted for examination. This form should be completed and returned when the thesis is submitted for examination. It should not be bound into the thesis itself.

Number of copies

The number of copies required by the University for examination depends on the number of examiners appointed. For Masters theses at least two examiners are appointed and Senate requires that at least three examiners be appointed for a PhD.
Normally three copies will be required for a Masters degree and four for a PhD. The Registrar will advise the candidate of the number of copies required. These copies should be suitably bound. Ring binding is the norm.
Upon completion of the examination procedure (once the examination results have been received), one loose-leaf copy as well as an electronic copy on disk are required by the library. The electronic copy should be prepared in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). These copies should only be produced once all corrections have been made and approved by the Faculty Board or the COA. Loose leaf and electronic final copies must be accompanied by a letter signed by the principal supervisor and/or Head of Department, stating that these copies are the full and final versions of the thesis.

Length of the Thesis

The normal upper limit for Masters degree theses and the Master of Education degree by research is 50 000 words of text (approximately 150 A4 pages of one-and-a-half spaced typing excluding footnotes, illustrative material and appendices).

Examination Process

Every attempt is made to complete the examination process in as short a time as possible and in time for the next set of graduation ceremonies. However, the primary consideration is an entirely fair yet comprehensive examination of the thesis, with emphasis on the maintenance of high standards. For this reason, the most appropriate and best examiners are chosen (often from outside the country). So, while the University seeks to have the examination completed as quickly as possible, time is not an overriding consideration. The University is also unable to guarantee that the examiners will submit their reports by the recommended date.
The Registrar will contact candidates immediately the outcome of the examination process is known and it must be stressed that the University does not undertake to reach a decision on the award of a degree by any specific date. Interference in the examination process in any way could invalidate the entire examination and the award of the degree. Not even the nomination of examiners will be discussed with, or disclosed to candidates. Only when a decision has been made about the award of the degree, will the names of the examiners be made known to candidates, and then only if the outcome is a positive one and provided the examiners have given their consent. Similarly, after a decision has been made, all or part of an examiners report may be made known to candidates only if the examiner agrees to this.

Examination Process for Masters Theses

Examiners

TWO examiners, external to the University, are appointed by the Faculty Board for each candidate. Normally, at least one of the examiners should be a member of academic or research staff at a University or recognised research institute and, preferably and where appropriate, at least one should be from outside South Africa or have demonstrated an international research standing.
The nomination of examiners may NOT be discussed with or disclosed to the candidate.

Examiners’ Recommendations

The recommendations open to examiners include:

  • Acceptance of the thesis and award of the degree, with or without distinction.
  • Acceptance of the thesis once minor corrections and/or revisions have been made (to the satisfaction of the supervisor or the Head of Department).
  • Requirement of clearly specified major revisions to the thesis and reexamination of the revised thesis.
  • Rejection of the thesis.

In addition, examiners will be asked for a formal report on the thesis which should be sufficiently detailed to allow the Dean to reach an informed judgement.

Collation of Reports

Normally the Head of Department will collate the examiners’ reports and make a formal recommendation to the Dean on the result of the examination. Where the Head of Department is directly involved (as a supervisor and/or examiner), the Dean (or the Deputy Dean if the Dean is directly involved), or the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Development, or a senior member of the Department nominated by the Dean (normally in that order of selection) will perform this task, so ensuring that the responsibility does not fall to someone who has acted as supervisor or examiner. The recommendation will be forwarded to the Dean or Deputy Dean of the Faculty.

The Registrar shall advise the examiners of the outcome and, where the Vice-Chancellor decides this should be done, the reasons for the decision.

If there is unanimity amongst the examiners and no reason to refer the thesis back to the candidate for revision, the Dean (or Deputy Dean if the Dean is the supervisor) of the Faculty may accept the recommendations and approve the award of the degree, with or without distinction, on behalf of the Faculty Board.

The thesis may also be returned to the candidate for minor or major revisions. In the latter case the thesis may have to be re-submitted for examination.

Examination Process for PhD Theses

Examiners

The Registrar will call for the nomination of at least THREE examiners, external to the University. In all cases the most appropriate examiners should be chosen, and with particular care when the thesis is multidisciplinary, or has some local applicability. Normally two of the examiners should be members of academic or research staff at a University or recognised research institute and, preferably and where appropriate, at least two should be from outside South Africa or have demonstrated an international research standing.

The nomination of examiners should not be discussed with or disclosed to the candidate.

Examiners’ Recommendations

Examiners will be asked for a recommendation on the thesis by indicating one of the following:

  • that the candidate be awarded the degree and no corrections need be made to the thesis;
  • that the candidate should be awarded the degree after minor corrections and/or specified changes have been made to the satisfaction of the supervisor and/or Head of Department;
  • although the thesis does not meet the required standard, the candidate should be invited to do further work if necessary, revise and resubmit the thesis for reexamination by the examiners;
  • the degree should not be awarded to the candidate.

In addition, examiners will be asked for a formal report on the thesis which should be sufficiently detailed to allow the Committee of Assessors (COA).

Collation of Reports

When all the examiners' reports have been received, the Registrar will collate and send them to the relevant Dean or Dean’s nominee who shall summarize these and forward the reports and summary to the COA for their recommendation. The COA consists of the relevant dean, 2-3 permanent core group members, the HoD, the supervisors, and, if required, 1-2 members with experience in the subject areas of the thesis. A formal meeting of the COA must be constituted if there is any major disagreement by the members of the COA in terms of these recommendations.

The COA should report to the Registrar and Vice-Chancellor within two weeks of receipt of the examiners' reports. The report must list one of the following recommendations:

  • the degree be awarded;
  • the degree be awarded but that minor corrections be made to the thesis. Those corrections should not delay the award of the degree;
  • the candidate should be awarded the degree subject to completing any specified changes to the thesis, to the satisfaction of the relevant supervisor and/or Head of Department with the final approval by the Chair of the COA;
  • although the thesis does not meet the required standard, the candidate should be invited to do further work if necessary, revise and resubmit for re-examination by the examiners; (it must be pointed out to the candidate that this may be done only once);
  • the degree should not be awarded to the candidate.

The report, together with the examiners' reports must be submitted by the Registrar to the Vice-Chancellor for approval on behalf of Senate or put to a meeting of Senate for its consideration.
The thesis may also be returned to the candidate for minor or major revisions. In the latter case the thesis may have to be re-submitted for examination.

Publications

The University encourages the publication of work done for higher degrees (for both Masters and PhD with the supervisor as joint author, where appropriate). There is little point in doing non-classified research unless the findings of the research are communicated to other workers in the field for their information and assessment. Every attempt should thus be made to publish as much of the thesis material as possible.

Some theses may be suitable for publication in full as books. More often, papers will have to be prepared from suitably edited sections of the thesis. Where papers are submitted for publication in journals, every attempt should be made to have the papers published in recognized and accredited journals. These are journals which are recognized by the Government’s Department of Education for subsidy purposes. They nearly always use peer review as the criterion for publication. A list of these journals may be obtained from the Research Office.

 

Contact:

For those interested in a Masters or PhD in Human Kinetics and Ergonomics please contact the Post-Graduate class co-ordinator: Andrew Todd (a.todd@ru.ac.za)

Last Modified: Mon, 05 Jun 2017 11:00:47 SAST