PhD in Gender Studies


Admission requirements

  1. Faculty Rules FDA1-6 and University General Rules apply (See Humanities Postgraduate Handbook)
  2. Applicants must have completed a Masters degree in the Social Sciences or Humanities. The degree should have included the successful completion of a research project. The degree should have included focus on gender analysis as a tool of social analysis within a particular area or discipline. Applicants from the University of Cape Town’s Masters Research Programme Gender Studies must have successfully completed the degree with an overall average result of not less than 70%. A preliminary research proposal must be submitted with the application, and applicants will be accepted only where an acceptable proposal for which supervision within the African Gender Institute is available. Guidelines on writing a preliminary research proposal are available on request from the African Gender Institute.

How to apply

In order to be accepted for study within UCT’s Graduate School of Humanities as a postgraduate student, you will need acceptance BOTH from the department in which you choose to undertake research AND from the Graduate School of Humanities. It is advisable to contact the department in which you would like to work first, in order to establish whether they can accept your application as a PhD candidate. Once this is established, you will need to contact the Graduate School of Humanities for information on how to register within the University of Cape Town as a PhD student.

Submission of a proposal for PhD Research

In order to be accepted into the PhD Research Programme run by the African Gender Institute, in the Graduate Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town, you will need to submit TWO portfolios:

Portfolio 1: Please submit a full curriculum vitae, and a letter outlining your interest in pursuing research at a PhD level in Gender Studies. Please also include a copy of research you have already undertaken as part of your Masters-level degree work, and/or as part of any other area of engagement (e.g. reports written for an NGO, government, etc.) You may include in this portfolio any other material you have written which supports your letter of interest and your description of your background and experience in gender studies and gender analysis. This portfolio should be accompanied by a signed statement from you that you are submitting your own work.

Portfolio 2: Please submit a proposal document of at least 8,000 words which outlines the research topic on which you plan to concentrate if you are accepted into the African Gender Institute’s PhD programme. Your proposal should cover:

  • Your disciplinary and/of professional background
  • Your interest in gender as a tool of analysis in social research – what do you think gender analysis offers to practitioners, social scientists and researchers?
  • Your intellectual background, especially your theoretical background in gender studies. This section should detail the literature and experience you have (so far) gathered which is directly relevant to the area you plan to develop.
  • The area and topic(s) you plan to explore as a researcher
  • The motivation for choosing this area, and the specific topics in which you plan new research. Extension of your literature review should occur here, giving concrete linkages between relevant theoretical debates and your proposal for new research
  • As full as possible a description of your proposed methodology
  • A description of some of the challenges you expect to encounter in doing your research

A research proposal cannot, clearly, anticipate all the questions, ideas, and issues which will emerge as you develop your project. Most PhD dissertations develop in directions un-expected by the researcher, and the negotiation of unexpected challenges and fresh concepts can be invigorating, and is part and parcel of good long-term research. Nonetheless, a research proposal must attempt to be as clear as possible about what the researcher plans to do, and as fully informed as possible about the intellectual and activist environment in which he/she plans to work.

All portfolios and enquiries should be sent to the Gender Studies Academic Programme Assistant, Wardah Daniels (wardah.daniels[at]; African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town, P.O. Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700; Phone: +27 (0) 21 6504207; Fax: +27 (0) 21 6504840

When your portfolios have been received by the African Gender Institute, your application will be considered by the PhD Committee, internal to the AGI, which is comprised of its senior faculty. You will be informed about their decision as soon as possible.

About the Research Dissertation at PhD level

The PhD degree comprises a dissertation not exceeding 80,000 words, undertaken through intensive supervision within the African Gender Institute. Supervision includes engagement with appropriate literature, methodologies, and critical feedback on process of the implementation and written analysis of the research project. For detailed information, please click here.

Useful Links

UCT Humanities Postgraduate Handbook

Faculty of Humanities website