PhD in Public Health

The SOPH offers an academically oriented doctorate by thesis, which implies a very large research project written up in a full thesis. This work should contribute new and original knowledge to your chosen field. It usually takes between three and five years to complete your thesis, depending on the time you are able to commit to your research and writing. There is no course work or structured programme attached to the thesis. Our programme is small, because we have a limited number of staff who can supervise PhD students. We assess every request on merit, based on the person's CV and research experience, and if his or her project matches our areas of expertise.

Our main areas of expertise are public health nutrition, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, health information systems, human resource development, health policy and systems research and pharmaceutical public health. Apart from having completed your Master qualification, you should also have additional research experience and a couple of research publications which you have authored or co-authored.

Due to our limited capacity in future we will only consider students for the PhD programme who have confirmed a SOPH supervisor prior to application. This means that you would have to liaise in advance with a potential supervisor.
Prospective PhD students are encouraged to send your CV and 3-4 page outline of your thesis proposal to the PhD Co-ordinator, Prof Brian van Wyk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and to the Student Administrator, Ms Corinne Carolissen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


(Note that the information below is a guide only – please consult official UWC and CHS Faculty Rule Book)



Unless Senate decides otherwise, candidates will be required to meet the following criteria to be enrolled for the programme: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A student shall have obtained a Master’s degree or equivalent qualification in the subject (s)he wishes to study and submit proof thereof, and

Satisfied Senate as to his/her proficiency in the subject


As only a limited number of students can be admitted to the programme, applicants will be subject to a selection procedure.


Unless Senate decides otherwise, the duration of the degree is subject to rule A.4.5 in the University Calendar Part 1.


The PhD programme is offered in the following specialisation areas:

  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Social Work
  • Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science
  • Child and Family Studies


Assessment is governed by Rule A.5 as stipulated in the University Calendar: General Information Part 1


Registration for the following year of study will be recommended by the supervisor if in his/her opinion adequate progress has been made during the current year.


The renewal of registration will be governed by the Rule A.4, as stipulated in the University Calendar: General Information Part 1.


Students must meet with their supervisors according to the memorandum of understanding dually signed by both parties.

Students are expected to present to the department regularly for supervision/guidance and to attend the recommended additional courses, skills development and seminars as relevant to the students’ needs, or determined by the department. Candidates will be required to present their proposals on a prescribed date determined by the department before handing in the final proposals to the Higher Degrees and Senate Higher Degrees Committees.

An oral examination may be required

Additional or related modules in the subject area may be required.

[Source: Yearbook 2017. Faculty of Community and Health Sciences]

School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
Robert Sobukwe Road, Bellville 7535, Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27-21 - 959 2809 | Fax: +27- 21 - 959 2872 | Email: