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Wits University Faculty of Humanities
Applied Ethics for Professionals This is an integrated programme designed for people in professional and leadership positions who are interested in ethical issues.
Applied Ethics for Professionals This is an integrated programme designed for people in professional and leadership positions who are interested in ethical issues.

Qualification: MA 

Faculty: Humanities

Duration: 2 years part-time

School: Social Sciences

Study mode: Part-time


The emphasis in this programme is on learning methods and techniques for thinking about ethical issues of any sort, not just those of immediate interest to this or that profession. The Programme includes exposure to the principal ethical theories, and critical examination of some well-known work in Applied Ethics, which has begun to develop into a philosophical specialty in the English-speaking world. The development of skills such as defending a point of view through clear and careful argumentation, offering “cooperative criticism”, and receiving and responding to such criticism, is an essential part of the Programme. Participants can also expect to see improvements in their argumentative writing, through careful attention to it, and extensive feedback on it, from the Programme lecturers.

No background in Philosophy is required, and we do not expect our graduates to be philosophers as such upon completion of the Programme. But successful participants will be able to think, discuss, and write much more clearly, fully, and deeply about any ethical issues they encounter as a result of their approaching such issues in both the theoretical and practical manner emphasized in this Programme.

Course work

Course work during the First Year and Term 1 of the Second Year will involve eight obligatory three-hour seminars on Saturdays each term, with extensive preparation prescribed for these seminars (approximately 10 hours each). The norm for assessment is a combination of written assignments or essays and a final examination (also on a Saturday) during the University’s exam period. These assignments and examinations will require considerable work over and above that required for normal seminar preparation.

Possible Electives

Cultural Pluralism and Ethics, Ethical Theory, Ethics and the Environment, Ethics and International Affairs, Information and Privacy, Issues in Biomedical Ethics, Morality and the Law, Morality and the Marketplace , Social Justice , The Value of Life, and Directed Study of a Further Approved Topic (by individual arrangement). 

Six of these will be offered during any two-year cycle.

Structure of the Programme

First year of study

Term 1 (February - May):

Required core course: Methods of Applied Ethics
(8 Saturday morning seminars)

Term 2 (July - October):

Two electives from an offered set of three (see below)
(4 Saturday morning seminars each, 8 in total)

Second year of study

Term 1 (February - May):

Two electives from a further offered set of three (see below)
(4 Saturday morning seminars each, 8 in total)

Term 2 (July - October):

Research methodology seminar and individual supervised work on research reports*

  • This may be continued into the following year, if necessary.

Research Report

The Research Report for the Masters degree (10 000 – 15 000 words) is normally written on an approved topic relevant to the candidate’s professional field. Students writing research reports will be required to attend two or three Saturday morning seminars during Term 2 of the second year, as well as meeting regularly with their supervisors by individual arrangement. Past students have written research reports on a wide range of topics

Masters by Coursework and Research Report:

  • A bachelors degree with honours from Wits or another university with a 65% total mark aggregate.
  • An Honours degree or a professional qualification at least equivalent to an Honours degree (e.g., MBA, BSc(Eng), CA, LLB (second degree), MBBCh
  • At least one year's experience in a management or leadership position
  • Excellent written English skills
  • Convenient access to e-mail, the Internet, and up-to-date computer software
  • Ability to attend Saturday-morning seminars (16 in the first year, 8 in the second) on the Wits campus
31 October
  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.