Before a formal application is made to Rhodes University, prospective candidates must first have an initial conversation with the doctoral programme coordinator, Dr Kirstin Wilmot ( In order to be considered on the programme, you will need to send the coordinator the following documents:

1.      An essay (maximum 8 pages including references) in which you outline your proposed study or topic area in more detail. This essay should show some engagement with the key literature and theory but does not need to detail the methodology.

2.     Your CV that specifies experience in Higher Education and provides details of your Masters Research and publications or conference presentations (if relevant).

3.    Name and contact details of three academic referees.

4.    A copy of your Master’s thesis.

5.    A copy of your Master’s thesis examiner reports.

On the basis of this initial conversation, you will be advised as to whether CHERTL has the capacity to supervise your study and whether you should formally apply and register for a PhD or if you will be entering the Pre-Doc Programme.


Formal registration for the PhD

If you are invited to do so, formal applications need to be submitted via the Registrar’s office at Rhodes University, and must be accompanied by the following documents:

  1. A completed application form.
  2. Full transcripts of previous degrees (unless they are Rhodes University degrees).
  3. An abbreviated CV, highlighting the areas which are of relevance to the proposed study including publications and conferences attended.
  4. A proposal concept or essay of 5-8 pages in which you provide a motivation for your proposed research drawing on relevant academic literature. This concept paper should articulate your proposed research questions, and situate these in a proposed field of study relevant to education, and should be professionally referenced. This need not contain information on the methodology of the proposed study.

Please indicate the name of the supervisor on your application as this will facilitate internal processing of the application.

Next steps after applying

If you are accepted as a doctoral student your next task will be to develop your research proposal (which can take up to a year of intense work), after which you are required to present a seminar to the Faculty on your proposed research. You will be mentored by your supervisor in preparing the proposal. The purpose of the seminar is to obtain critical feedback in preparation for your final proposal and your research programme. Your final proposal needs to be approved by the Education Faculty Higher Degrees Committee before you may proceed with your research. Ethical clearance from the Rhodes University Ethics Committee is also required before you may commence with the research.

Doctoral students are expected to attend the Faculty of Education Research Methodology course in the first year of study. This course is offered twice a year and lasts for 6 days. The course focuses on research design, and will provide support for the process of preparing a research proposal.

The Faculty of Education also offer three one-week ‘Doc Weeks’ each year, and doctoral students are encouraged to attend these, as they provide an advanced professional learning environment and provide access to a community of scholars. The doctoral study weeks cover the following areas of study, which are offered via an interactive, co-engaged approach:

  • Social Theory, Philosophy, Epistemology and Methodology
  • Advanced Educational Theory and Practice
  • Quality, Ethics, Evidence and Analysis
  • Specialist Study in the field of Higher Education Studies
  • Academic Literacies and Professionalism

Further information on postgraduate studies at Rhodes University can be found on the postgraduate gateway: The gateway provides information on programmes offered by the Centre for Postgraduate Studies, the University Supervision Policy and the Higher Degrees Guide.

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Last Modified: Thu, 09 Dec 2021 17:35:03 SAST