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Research Examination

 Masters by Dissertation (LLM/MPhil)

  • The University of Cape Town (UCT) requires LLM/MPhil  candidates to submit electronic versions of dissertations online via the PeopleSoft Student Administration Self-service functionality.
  • This will mean that hard copies of intention to submit forms and dissertations are no longer physically deposited. You, as the candidate, submit your work for examination from any digitally-connected destination.
  • At the conclusion of your research, you will be able to complete and upload your intention to submit form on PeopleSoft using this process
  • All communication from UCT regarding the examination process will occur via e-mail. Please make sure that you have your username and password and are able to access the PeopleSoft Student Administration Self Service.
  • The minor dissertation/research paper must be no longer than 40,000 words for the LLM or MPhil Degree.
  • The instructions for the uploading the dissertation can be found here.  Please ensure that you follow the process outlined correctly.  All incomplete submissions will be rejected.  This will cause delays in the examination process.
  • The dissertation should be accompanied by the declaration form, a Plagiarism Declaration form and the final abstract.
  • Returning students should bear in mind that the final date for submission of dissertations is: the first day of term in the new academic year  if they do not wish to reregister in 2021.
  • Students who submit their dissertations for examination before the start of the academic year, do not need to re-register and pay associated fees for an additional year.
  • Returning students who wish to reregister for only their minor dissertation in 2021 need to consult the 2021 fees handbook for submission deadlines. Please also consult the fees handbook for the cost of Registration for the dissertation only under the degree programme.
  • Students are required to re-register in February of each year whilst completing their dissertations.
  • Where a student is required to revise and resubmit a dissertation the academic fee will be charged per quarter (i.e. if the candidate must work for up to one quarter he/she will pay 25% of the full fee; for up to two quarter, he/she will pay 25% of the full fee; for up to two quarters, he/she will pay 50% of the full fee and so on).
  • For more information about 2020/2021 timelines for dissertations examinations from submission for examination to graduation click here
  • Once the examination process is concluded and you are asked to upload your library copy,  please follow the Library Upload instructions.

Doctoral Theses
PhD students are required to refer to the DDB website for guidelines and deadlines on the examination process and to download the Intention to submit form from the DDB website.  

In the front of your thesis, a signed and dated declaration in the following format must be included.

Incorporation of already published work

Candidates are expected to write their theses while under supervision at UCT. In this way, the university can satisfy itself that works, which in due course will appear as public documents, carry its stamp of approval. Hence, if candidates intend to include in their doctorates work published before registering for the degree, they must apply for the written permission of the DDB prior to submission. If the work was published during the process of writing the theses, they must obtain the permission of both the DDB and the Faculty's HDC.

For a work to be considered 'already published', it may be 'in press' i.e. accepted for publication.

If permission is to be granted, the published work must not be of such a volume and nature that the thesis becomes no more than a compilation of existing publications. The thesis must still be thematically coherent, composite discourse, with all the elements needed to make it a PhD in the accepted sense. In other words, even though publications were included, '˜the thesis must show acceptable academic style, scholarly content and coherence as a connected account with a satisfactory introduction, statement of thesis and conclusion'™ [Rule 6.7(i)] In particular, candidates must maintain a consistent referencing style throughout the thesis (other than in the pre-published works, where different journals may require different house styles).

In the application for approval, the candidate must indicate the reason for including the published work, and how it advances the argument in the thesis as a whole. When the work in question is a significant component, it will be advisable to provide a synopsis of its contents.

If the already published work was co-authored, the PhD candidate must specify to what extent and at what levels s/he was involved in the research and publication. This statement must be verified by the supervisor in order to certify that student concerned showed sufficient intellectual initiative and input to qualify for the PhD, notwithstanding the contribution of a co-author (0r co-authors). In addition, candidates must submit written support from each co-author, indicating what role that they and the candidates played in the publication, together with their agreement that the work may be included in the final thesis. (If the co-authors themselves are PhD students, they should verify that they will not be including this publication in their own PhD thesis.)

In order to avoid any potential copyright problems, candidates are advised to inform the publishing journals of their use of the work concerned in a PhD degree at UCT.

The Examination Procedure

Masters Theses

Two examiners are appointed by the Faculty's Higher Degrees Committee. Their names are confidential. Supervisors assist in nominating examiners, but they may not discuss the matter with a supervisor (or obviously the candidate) nor may they disclose the examiners' names.

A candidate may be required to undergo a written or oral examination on the subject matter of the thesis.

Examiners may make one of the following five recommendations:

  • the degree be awarded with distinction
  • the degree be awarded, without the need to make any corrections except for minor, typographical errors
  • the degree be awarded, subject to specified changes being made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Higher Degrees Committee
  • although the thesis does not meet the required standard, the candidate should be invited to do further work, to revise the thesis and then submit it for re-examination
  • the degree should not be awarded.

As soon as examiners' reports are received, they are considered by the Faculty HDC, which is required to recommend to the Faculty Board whether the degree should be awarded. If examiners consider that the thesis needs to be corrected, the HDC may require the candidate to make the recommended amendments. The candidate's supervisor must then ensure that library copies of the dissertation are changed accordingly. When alterations have duly been made, the HDC must be notified in writing.

Doctoral theses

When a thesis has been received, the Faculty HDC nominates a Committee of Assessors (COA). This body recommends to the Doctoral Degrees Board (DDB) the appointment of examiners, and, when the examiners' reports are received, it considers them.

The COA consists of two or three core members of the Faculty (with proven experience as supervisors), the Dean or a nominee (as chair), the Head of Department, the supervisor (as a non-voting member), and, if need be, one or two others with experience in the area. The appointment of the COA must be approved by the DDB.

The COA must nominate at least three examiners, whose names may not be disclosed to the candidate. The DDB then formally appoints these individuals as examiners to read the thesis.

The supervisor must submit a brief report on the subject matter of the thesis to assist potential examiners in deciding whether to accept appointment. The supervisor may also provide a separate report (for the information of the COA and DDB only) on factors, other than personal ones, which may have affected the writing of the thesis.

When all the examiners' reports have been received, the COA considers them and recommends a final decision to the DDB. (Special procedures are available for situations where the examiners disagree.) Normally, the names of examiners and the contents of their reports are made available to the candidate when the examination has been completed. This practice may, however, be varied.

Examiners may make one of the following four recommendations:

  • the degree be awarded, without the need to make any corrections except for minor, typographical errors
  • the degree be awarded, subject to specified changes being made to the satisfaction of the DDB
  • although the thesis does not meet the required standard, the candidate should be invited to do further work, to revise the thesis and then submit it for re-examination
  • the degree should not be awarded.