Rhodes>Ichthyology>Studying>Prospective Students>Application process for MSc & PhD Candidates

The DIFS MSc/PhD application process 


We are pleased that you are considering either an MSc or PhD degree with us in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS) at Rhodes University. Please work your way through the following steps, as they will guide you through the application process. The process applies to all MSc/PhD applicants to the DIFS: 

BEFORE YOU START the application process please consider the following:


(1) Do you have time to read for this degree? 

Our post-graduate program is based on full-time attendance in nearly all cases, unless you are a full time employee AND your employee is prepared to allow you substantial time dedicated to studies, in which case you are invited to motivate to register part time. Would you be able to dedicate two years (for MSc) and three years (for PhD) to this study on a full-time basis?


(2) Do have the prerequisites to read for an MSc or PhD degree?

Your proposed supervisor will review your academic career and assess you (just as you would be assessed in a job interview) and part of this assessment will be to make sure that you qualify to read for the degree. This is your responsibility too; please familiarise yourself with the prerequisites in the  Higher Degree Guide (link below).

South African legislation requires that: to read for an MSc you must have obtained a BSc Honours or a four year BSc that is equivalent to NQF level 8 (determined by the South African Qualifications Authority, SAQA); and to read for a PhD you must have obtained an MSc degree (NQF level 9).

If your highest qualification was completed at a university outside of South Africa then you may be required to confirm the NQF level of that qualification to ensure that you meet the admission requirements for the degree that you are applying for. This can be done at www.saqa.org.za


(3) Do you have a project topic and a DIFS, DIFS Associate or SAIAB supervisor? 

Note that we only offer an MSc and PhD by thesis; we do not offer these degrees by course work. That means that you need a research project and a project supervisor. So, the next step will be to familiarise yourself with our research staff at the DIFS and SAIAB or with any of our Research Associates as these academics may supervise DIFS MSc and PhD students (see links below). 

It is strongly recommended that you make contact with them directly and introduce yourself and secure a project with one of them and that you secure a place in their research program. This stage will include settling on a project title and putting a short one/two page project proposal/research concept note together, which your proposed supervisor will help you with.

If you need help in making contact with any of our staff, please contact our front office at DIFS-PGapplications@ru.ac.za and the office will try to put you in contact with a member of staff most suited to your area of interest.

Note that co-supervisors from other departments or from other institutions are allowed; however, the primary supervisor must be a member of the Rhodes University Science Faculty.


(4) Do you have funding to: (a) support you for the period of the degree; (b) cover your university fees; and (c) to cover the costs of your proposed research?

You must make sure you have secured funding to sustain you and your studies and research. That is, successful applicants are expected to make their own arrangements with regards to funding in respect of academic fees, accommodation, subsistence and travel and to cover your research costs. Note that the research cost may (not always) be covered by your supervisor’s research grant; you will need to negotiate this with your project supervisor.

FINALLY - Once you have considered all of the above, and you are confident that you qualify and all the points mentioned in the list above are adequately addressed, then you should start the application process.


The DIFS online application process:


Step I -  initial online application:

You need to completed the initial ROSS registration online at https://ross.ru.ac.za/ following the ROSS Registration Guide.

Note that the above online application link will request initial information form you, after which it will direct you back to this page, at which point you continue to Step II.


Step II – getting a project supervisor and topic:

You need to make contact with a member of our full time Academic staff or an Honorary Associate staff member of the DIFS (https://www.ru.ac.za/ichthyology/people/) and find a project and a project supervisor. Please see Section-3 above for detail on how to do this.

If you are unable to find a supervisor and project, we will attempt to help with this process; you are encouraged, however, to make contact with the supervisors your self.


Step III – preparing an application research proposal:

With assistance from your project supervisor (Step-II above), you must settle on a topic of research and you must prepare a short concept note for your project proposal. This concept note will form part of the application process that follows.

The title at the start of the research proposal concept note should include:

  • the application number provided to you in Step-1 above.
  • your name;
  • your email address;
  • your primary supervisor’s name;
  • your primary supervisor’s email address;
  • name and email address of any co-supervisors, if applicable; and
  • title of the proposed research project.

The content of your proposal need not be more than one or two pages in length (it can be longer), and must include:

  • reference to relevant literature that motivates the aims and objective of the work, and that demonstrates the academic merit of the proposed research;
  • preliminary aim and objectives;
  • a brief account of the experimental design and methods/materials that will be used; and
  • a reference list.


Step IV – signed approval from your primary project supervisor:

Once step 3 is complete, please complete the DIFS Supervisor Form and ask your supervisor to sign it.


Step V – Email relevant application documents to the DIFS:

Write an email addressed to DIFS-PGapplications@ru.ac.za (and it should be cc-ed to the applicant/supervisor if applicable).

The email subject line must include:

  • Degree for with you are applying, i.e. MSc or PhD;
  • applicant surname;
  • the reference number generated in Step-I above.

State in the body of the email:

  • if you HAVE or have NOT been able to secure a supervisor;
  • if you HAVE or have NOT got access to a bursary or personal funding; provide detail; and
  • if your research HAS funding or HAS NOT got access to funding to run the proposed research; provide detail.
  • Registration: Full time or Part time?
  • Research Type: e.g Thesis?
  • In attendance or Not in attendance?

This single email should include the following attachments (please do not send these in multiple emails – one email with everything attached please):

The following are mandatory and the application will not be processed without them:

  • A copy of the applicant’s full curriculum vitae (CV)
  • A letter of motivation written by the applicant
  • Official and stamped academic transcript showing full results of previous university degrees
  • A copy of the applicants Identity Document (if South African) or passport (if not South African)

The following are not mandatory but can/should be included if necessary:

  • If necessary, recognition/confirmation of the previous degrees provided by SAQA (Section-2 above; this might be necessary for some foreign applicants only)
  • Reference letters (not obligatory)

The following are mandatory to complete the application; but you may apply without the following if you do not have a project and project supervisor; however, these documents will become mandatory before the application process can be completed:

  • The proposal generated in Step-III (if you have a supervisor, it must be read and edited by your prospective supervisor)
  • Signed supervisor acceptance form - Step-IV (only if you have a supervisor)
  • Documentation confirming how the applicant’s participation in the degree will be funded (address all parts of Section-4 above) – this can be signed note by the applicant/supervisor, or a bursary acceptance form or contract or email, for example.

Note: If any of the mandatory supporting documentation listed above is missing we will not be able to process your application. Please makes sure that all attachments are included.


Step VI – complete the online application process

We will confirm receipt of your application (Step-V) as soon as possible after it has been submitted; please email DIFS-PGapplications@ru.ac.za if you have not heard from us within two weeks of applying.

Your application will be evaluated, and this process will take two to four two weeks.  If your application meets our departmental criteria then the University’s central application system will send you an email asking you to complete the rest of the application online, which includes providing information such as whether you require accommodation in a university residence, and details of the person responsible for fee payment.

If your application is not accepted, you will receive an email confirming this.


More information

In the meantime here are a few useful links so that you can familiarise yourself with the DIFS and Rhodes University: 


Kind regards


Last Modified: Mon, 27 Feb 2023 13:41:19 SAST