UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG

Introduction to MSc and PhD Research Degrees

The School of Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) is an interdisciplinary teaching and research centre within the School of Biology, Faculty of Science. The school's major academic thrusts are:

  • Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Genetics and Developmental Biology
  • Microbiology and Biotechnology

Excellent opportunities exist for postgraduate research towards MSc and PhD degrees. 

Candidates for the MSc/PhD degree will normally have one of the staff of the school as supervisor, though sometimes specialists outside the school will co-supervise. The nature and scope of the work depends on the degree and topic. Students are expected to carry out research on a topic suggested by (or agreed with) their supervisor. They should choose which supervisor(s) and project(s) they wish to join and are welcome to make specific enquiries to the relevant project supervisors. Enquiries may also be made to one of the following teaching programme coordinators:Dr Sylvia Fanucchi  (Biochemistry and Cell Biology),  Dr Jean Mollett (Genetics and Developmental Biology),Professor Gustav Bouwer (Microbiology and Biotechnology).

During the MSc/PhD course, research is supplemented by seminars and
workshops. Students meet as a group with academic staff regularly to present and discuss their work. There are no formal lectures - group meetings are held every week with staff members to present and discuss their work. A written progress report is to be submitted to the research supervisor at least once a year. Students are to assist with the undergraduate teaching programme as teaching assistants in practical classes and in some small group teaching. This provides valuable teaching experience and some financial rewards.



MSc entry requirements, duration, and requirements for award of degree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entry requirements for an MSc by research is normally a second class pass in a BSc Honours degree or an equivalent 4-year degree in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, microbiology, biotechnology, chemistry (or a closely-related subject). It is possible to proceed/upgrade to a PhD degree, conditional on performance, as explained below. The MSc by research extends over a period of not less than one academic year of full-time study or two academic years of part-time study. It is examined by dissertation which must show the candidate's acquaintance with the methods of research but need not involve original or publishable research, and which must be satisfactory as regards literary style and presentation. MSc dissertations are examined by appointed internal and external examiners, and, if required, the student shall present himself/herself for such examination.

PhD entry requirements, duration, and requirements for award of degree

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entry requirements for a PhD are an MSc or equivalent degree in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, microbiology, biotechnology, chemistry (or a closely-related subject). A person who has been admitted for an MSc degree may proceed to a PhD degree (a) having successfully completed the requirements for the MSc degree, pursues, for not less than one academic year, further full-time research for the PhD degree which shall be an extension of the research already completed, or, (b) on the recommendation of the supervisor and Head of MCB Graduate Studies (Prof S. T. Weiss).

The PhD extends over a period of two academic years full-time and four academic years part-time. Examination is normally by thesis which must constitute a substantial original contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the topic chosen, and which must be satisfactory as regards literary presentation and in a form suitable for publication. The thesis may include published results or publications, provided that this work was undertaken during the course of registration. In the case of joint (multiauthored) publications, the candidates contribution towards such work must be indicated.

PhD theses are examined by appointed internal and external examiners, and, if required, the student shall present himself/herself for such examination.

 

Application and registration

Application packs for postgraduate studies and information about registration are available from:

Student Enrolment Centre 
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg 2050
tel:(011) 717-1030 
fax: (011)717-1299
postgrad.senc@wits.ac.za

An application will not be considered unless it is supported by a supervisor and the Head of MCB Graduate Studies Committee (Prof. S.T. Weiss). You should first contact potential supervisors whose projects you find interesting, and enquire about availability of space in their labs and to get more information about their projects. Consult the general information for Postgraduate Applicants booklet before completing the application form. You are required to enclose your C.V., an outline of your academic background and interests, and the names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of two academic references.

Students are required to register by 31 October 2014 for January 2015, by 28 February 2015 for April 2015, 31 May 2015 for July 2015 and 29 July 2015 for September 2015. Owing to competition for places, applicants are advised to apply as early as possible.

 

Confirmation of registration

 

Once registered, students are expected to prepare and submit within six months of their initial registration a research proposal for confirmation of registration. These proposals must be approved by the supervisor(s), the Head of MCB Graduate Studies Committee (Prof S.T. Weiss) and the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee. It constitutes a substantial piece of written work consisting of the aim(s) of the topic of research, a literature review and the methods for the investigation. The proposal will form the basis of the postgraduate research, but naturally may be modified as the research proceeds.