Doctoral candidates


Application for the study of the PhD Degree is made through the relevant Faculty office.

Approval of research proposal and candidature approval starts in the Faculty Office where students register. The guidelines are not rigid rules, nor are they a requirement that the thesis be fully researched before registration. However, candidates must demonstrate an understanding of how to set about a research proposal.

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The Doctoral Degrees Board approves PhD candidature and administers the examination of PhD theses.

Procedure for examination

At the conclusion of research, the candidate shall submit a thesis for examination. This will occur after receiving an indication from the supervisor that the thesis is acceptable for submission.

A PhD Candidate can submit at any time subject to being registered for 2 years. While the DDB will not insist on the supervisor’s approval before accepting a PhD thesis, it is recommended that candidates submit with the approval of their supervisors. The candidate must inform the Doctoral Degrees Board Officer in writing of his/her intention.

The PhD Students’ examination Guide is available here.

Format of thesis

The University of Cape Town (UCT) now requires PhD candidates to submit electronic versions of dissertations/theses online via the PeopleSoft Student Administration Self-service functionality.

This will mean that hard copies of intention to submit forms and dissertations/theses 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, followed by the upload of your dissertation/ thesis. 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.

Deadline dates

PhD candidates must upload their notice of intention to submit theses for examination on PeopleSoft:

  •     At least 6 – 8 weeks before submission of their theses for examination.

PhD candidates must upload their theses for examination on PeopleSoft:

  •     At least 5 months before the upcoming graduation ceremony to allow time for the examination process to run its course.

To avoid re-registration and fee liability, PhD candidates must upload their theses:

  •     By 12pm on the first day of the new academic year, namely 19 February 2018.


The examination is confidential, students will only be informed once a decision has been made. The University does not however undertake to reach a decision on the award of the degree by any specific date.

The thesis is examined by three external examiners, at least two of whom are commonly international. The selection of examiners is an important part of the examination process. Appointment of examiners of PhD theses are subject to the approval of the Doctoral Degrees Board.

It is imperative that candidates have no knowledge of the identity of examiners until the examiners give permission for their identities to be known after the examination process.


Depending on the outcome of the examination process and the date that the examination process is concluded, a PhD candidate may be eligible to graduate at the upcoming graduation ceremonies.

Graduation ceremonies are managed by the Student Records Office and information relating to graduation is available on their Graduation webpage.

The DDB Office notifies PhD candidates of the outcome of their examination by email. All correspondence to students is sent to their UCT email account (