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Wits and ISS announce a joint PhD Programme

- Wits School of Law

The University of the Witwatersrand and the International institute of Social Studies (ISS) have announced a joint PhD Programme enabling students to complete a doctorate degree awarded jointly by Wits and the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The programme will run during the inception period for three years (January 2016 - January 2019) with a possible extension.

Areas of Research

The joint programme forms part of the ISS research group on Governance, Globalization and Social Justice (GGSJ). Research performed by members of the group explores how and to what extent particular governance arrangements help or hinder the achievement of goals of social justice.

The research programme builds on the strong ISS tradition of research in the areas of politics, public administration, public policy and international law, but is committed to cutting across disciplinary boundaries.

The organizers of the joint PhD programme between Wits and ISS invite applications from prospective candidates on a range of topics in international law, society and development:

• Critical, development-oriented aspects of trade and investment
• Socioeconomic deprivation
• Human rights and humanitarian law
• Gender
• Health and the environment.

Socio-legal approaches that critique the social working of law are preferred to studies that simply examine the content and implementation of legal norms.

Admission and supervision

Those who are interested to apply for the joint programme will be asked to submit: (1) their CV, (2) a letter of motivation for the joint programme, (3) two academic references and (4) a draft research proposal. Applications for the joint programme should be sent to the joint steering committee, which includes representatives from both institutions.

The joint steering committee will then make a pre-selection.

Deadline for applications:   15 May 2016

Applicants who are invited by the steering committee to apply for the joint programme will then be required to satisfy the full admission requirements for doctoral candidates at each participating institution and will at that point receive instructions for doing so.

Upon successful admission to the joint programme, each candidate will be designated at least two academic supervisors, one based at Wits, the other at ISS. Supervision will take place through a combination of in-person and Skype meetings and other forms of digital communication.

There are two, anticipated profiles of candidates who are admissible to the joint programme. 

The first profile The second profile

Candidates who are currently enrolled in the Wits School of Law, have had their research design approved, are employed in a teaching and/or research function at Wits, and wish to extend their programme to a joint degree.

These candidates can apply for mobility fellowships to spend a period of time at ISS (up to six months), including travel, accommodation in ISS graduate student accommodation and living expenses.

The purpose of these fellowships is to allow candidates to interact with the research community at ISS and elsewhere in the Netherlands, to present their research at seminar(s) and to write-up their findings and analysis.

Entry-level PhD candidates who have applied, or who are contemplating applying to the Wits PhD programme in the School of Law, and whose design still needs to be approved by their Wits supervisor.

These candidates can apply for a scholarship, or one of the available inception fellowships for a maximum period of six months research stay in the Netherlands.

These fellowships will cover course fees, travel to and from South Africa, a room in ISS graduate student accommodation and a modest living allowance.

It is expected that most candidates will return to Wits at the end of the fellowship.

Flexible academic arrangements

The PhD programme offers more flexible academic arrangements in order to accommodate the constraints arising from the professional obligations of mid-career applicants. Well-prepared and well-supported candidates who are based in a research-oriented organisation or university elsewhere may be able to follow a tailor-made track, with shorter periods spent in The Hague.

Non-Resident PhD

The so-called '2nd window' PhD programme is especially meant for those candidates who do not need to follow the regular four year PhD programme. These candidates are well prepared in terms of research background, research skills and/or data collection. Very often the 2nd window participants do not reside in The Hague, but will visit the supervisors on a regular and beforehand agreed upon schedule.

Interested candidates are kindly requested to submit their applications to the PhD Committee. In the application it should be clearly indicated that the candidate is interested in the 2nd window option. Aided by the submitted application and documents, the PhD Committee will take a decision on a case-by-case basis.

Tuition fees

Candidates who are successfully admitted to the joint PhD programme will be waived of fees from both ISS-EUR and Wits.

Travel and visa costs

Travel costs must be born by the candidates unless covered by one or other scholarship. The programme will cover candidates’ visa costs as well as the costs of defending the the thesis in the Netherlands.

Living expenses

Living expenses in the Netherlands are approximately Euros 900/month, based on a moderate standard of living. Subsidized accommodation (approximately Euros 400/month) will be guaranteed to those who participate in ISS and/or CERES courses.


For those participating in the CERES course, the fee is Euros 2000 (2014 rate). Other course fees vary, depending on the individual candidate’s requirements.


Various scholarships may be available depending on the nationality of the candidate (see scholarship database).

In addition, individual candidates may be eligible for a scholarship through the Erasmus Mundus programmeor for one of the limited scholarships offered through the joint programme.

Involved Staff

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In addition, various individual faculty members will participate, depending on the topic.

From ISS

From Wits law

It is also possible that, depending on topic area, faculty from the Erasmus School of Law will become involved in a supervisory role.


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