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Academic Programme

Postgraduate dissertation programme

The PARI postgraduate dissertation programme provides the basis for new research to complement the institute’s strategic development projects. It guides young graduates who have an interest in related topics.

Developing a clear research question, choosing a research methodology and writing a proposal are some of the most challenging parts of postgraduate study. Our postgraduate programme is designed to support fellows through all phases of the dissertation and thesis process.

“PARI provided a home where I could meet other postgraduate students that I could relate to and share the experience of postgraduate studies. The postgraduate dissertation programme has provided me with the theoretical lens through which I have framed my study, and informs a critical part of my research” Patricia Ndhlovu, PARI Doctoral Fellow

“Within the framework of the PARI project my ideas about how to conduct research and how to analyse recent South African history shifted a lot. While my peers were researching the failures of the post-1994 South African state, I was finding a very mixed picture of the contemporary period” Laura Phillips, former PARI Fellow – currently undertaking a PhD at New York University

“All the challenges I had been faced with when writing my article, such as specific ways of structuring the proposal and how to support my ideas through theory, were shared with the others in the postgraduate dissertation programme, and feedback I received about the proposal was reassuring. I was aware that my main ideas has been well articulated and fully expressed in my writing” Siyaduma Biniza, Former PARI Masters Research Fellow

PARI scholarships

PARI scholarships are intended to support postgraduate study in institutional and organisational studies with a focus on the public sector. PARI works in a multi-disciplinary environment and we welcome applications from students from across the social sciences, economics and other relevant disciplines. What is important is that the applicant is interested in doing empirically grounded research on the state and its institutions.

These scholarships are made possible and are generously funded by Nedbank and the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority.

Successful applicants will be supervised by committee, including academics in the relevant teaching department and in PARI. They will have an organisational base at the institute, where they will be included as PARI research fellows. Students will be part of an academic community at the institute. This will include compulsory participation in our postgraduate development programme, attending academic and research seminars at the institute, attending writing retreats and possibly being included on relevant PARI research projects (dependent, for example, on the student’s research focus).

Scholarships are available for 2016, for registration at the University of the Witwatersrand only.


Applications are welcome from students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including, for example, economics, politics, history, anthropology, sociology and law.

Existing scholarships are, for the first time, open to honours students. Candidates must have received firsts for both major subjects in their third year or, at least, a first and an upper second.

Masters applicants should have an honours (or equivalent) degree with a minimum of a 70% pass. Applicants who did not achieve a 70% pass will be considered if they are able to provide a motivation in support of their application from the head of department in which they completed their last degree.

Students who have already been awarded funding (bursary or scholarship) for the 2016 academic year of R35 000 or more should not apply for the scholarship.

Successful applicants will be awarded the relevant scholarships on condition that they are accepted by the University of the Witwatersrand for full-time postgraduate study.


Applicants must complete the online application form and provide the following in support of their application:

  • A short cover letter
  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae
  • Original academic transcript/s (or certified copies) of the applicant’s honours degree (or equivalent) and undergraduate degree
  • The applicant’s honours research report or a long essay written as part of the applicant’s last degree
  • The names and contact details of two referees, one of whom must be an academic referee from a department in which the applicant obtained a degree (see referees section in the application form)

Enquiries about the scholarships or the application process can be directed to Mbongiseni Buthelezi at

Award of scholarships

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel of academics from PARI, and the Schools of Social Sciences, Economic and Business Sciences, and Law.

Scholarships will be awarded on a competitive basis, taking into account academic merit and the resonance of the applicant’s academic or research interests with PARI’s research themes and approach, as well as the specific focus area of the scholarships. More information about PARI’s research focus and approach can be found at

NOTE: Should students with a PARI scholarship not complete their degree, the scholarship awarded will be treated as a loan. Students will be expected to pay back the value of the scholarship over a reasonable period as stipulated by PARI.