Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of doing a taught Masters degree at the Centre?

Obtain practical experience in environmentally related research by performing a research project and publishing it under the supervision of one of our senior staff members. This generates the required background in order to interpret the scientific literature and to assess the research of others in the environmental field (an important skill for environmental practitioners in decision-making positions). The project also prepares you conduct further research by yourself. Have the opportunity for full exposure to and interaction with the environmental industry during your training. This is achieved during training as well as during an optional internship of 8 weeks in a company or local authority involved in environmental matters. Be fully prepared to write the professional examinations of the Southern African Auditor Training and Certification Association (SAATCA), the South African representative of the International Auditor Training and Certification Association (IATCA). This is a requirement for registering as a professional internal environmental auditor. There is also an opportunity to write the examinations of the International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA). Have access to international professional collaboration with students in environmental studies at Imperial College London in Britain. Have access to experts at the national and international level who present modules within the taught courses. Have opportunity to continue your studies towards a PhD degree if you show sufficient progress during the research project.


How long do the taught Masters courses last?

Most of the courses take two years (Full time) and (Part time). For full time students, most of the coursework is completed during the first nine months, leaving the remaining time for the research project and the optional internship in industry. (Part time students spread modules over the two year period in combination with their research project)


But I can obtain a Masters degree at another university in only one year!

That is true. However, in order to become a professional environmental practitioner with decision-making abilities, you need intensive training in a diverse array of topics (ranging from environmental law to geographic information systems), research experience in order to evaluate the research results of other people, professional registration as well as practical experience in your field of specialisation. All of these cannot be achieved in a single year. What you get out of training is directly proportional to the time you are prepared to invest in training! Would you expect a Mercedes Benz for the price of a Fiat Uno?


How are the coursework degrees organised?

Within your chosen specialisation, you need to complete a number of core modules, a number of specialisation modules as well as a research project.

For most of the specialisations, the the degree constitutes a total of 182 credits, divided into the following components:

  • Core modules: For most specialisations there are two core modules comprising 30 credits. Specialisation modules: You need to complete appropriate specialisation modules worth 45 credits and an elective of choice in the CFES brochure - Research project: 90 credits

In addition, students may undertake an optional internship. This comprises a period of at least 8 weeks with a company or local government involved in the environmental industry. Internships are arranged by the Centre for Environmental Studies in order to facilitate maximum contact between students and industry. From the student's perspective it brings about practical experience often required by employers in the environmental field. From industry's perspective they become aware of promising students who could be offered work after completion of the degree. However, the Centre makes NO undertaking to find or facilitate a work for any student.

For full-time sudents, the core modules and specialisation modules are performed during the first nine months of the course. The research project and the optional internships are conducted during the remaining 15 months.


How are modules assessed?

  • Critical essays written for each module. You will need to write at least one essay that synthesises your knowledge with respect to a particular module. This will often involve a case study in which you will have to apply several aspects of your knowledge. Essays are marked by an internal examiner and moderated by an external examiner. Written examinations. Almost all modules involve a written examination, covering the material discussed for a particular module. Each examination is marked by an internal examiner and moderated by an external examiner. Research project evaluation. You are required to perform a research project in you field of specialisation under the supervision of a member of staff in the Centre. This project is assessed by an internal examiner as well as an external examiner. External examiners are required to hold a PhD and demonstrated research proficiency in the relevant environmental specialisation.

What are the admission requirements?

You need to have successfully completed a four-year university degree or equivalent (that is, level NQF8 following the National Qualifications Framework). For the MSc courses, you need a BSc Honours degree or equivalent. For the B.A. and M. Inst. Agrar. courses, the required courses have a wide range of degrees that would allow access to registration. Applicants for full time study need a minimum of 65% for their four-year degree mentioned above. Admission is done on a competitive basis with due consideration to establishing an equitable profile for each intake using criteria such as culture, gender and race and to provide sufficient intakes for the respective areas of specialisation.

There are fewer seats available for part time students than there are for full time students. Applicants for part time studies are selected based on their academic record and professional experience. Generally, applicants for part time studies are selected using more stringent requirements than those for full-time study.


How do part-time studies differ from full-time studies?

Firstly, there are differences in admission criteria. We expect part time students to be highly motivated and capable of completing the degree with less face-to-face contact than full-time students. Therefore the admission criteria for part-time students are higher than for full-time studies and they are admitted on an individual basis. Students who wish to change from full-time to part-time studies may not be able to do so due to the differences in admission criteria.

Secondly, the scheduling of academic activities for part-time students differs from that of full-time students:

Part time students have on-campus face-to-face contact during three or four block weeks of lectures during the academic year. They are expected to prepare for these block weeks ahead of time according to the schedules that have been agreed with the lecturing staff. They are also expected to take part in the chat room discussions on the Internet, provided with each course module.

Full-time students are expected to be on campus on a daily basis when they attend class discussions and discussions with lecturing staff. The full-time academic schedule is arranged to spread the academic discussions evenly across the year.


What degree of language proficiency do I need?

You need to demonstrate that you can speak and write English proficiently. This could be performed by indicating your mark in a TOEFL test (http://www.ets.org/toefl/), or by writing the language proficiency test of the University of Pretoria. You need to prove language proficiency BEFORE admission to the taught Masters courses.


What computer skills do I need?

All course administration and co-ordination is performed via the Internet, making use of the ClickUp environment through which course contents and reference material are made available. Therefore, you need proficiency in performing basic tasks on a computer, including file and folder manipulation, word processing, spreadsheet manipulations, e-mail, Internet browsing and chat rooms. Because of this you will need to write a computing proficiency test at the start of the course. If you do not pass this test, you will need to pass a computer literacy course in your own time and demonstrate proficiency within six months of starting your studies.

Part-time students must have Internet access at home or at work. Computing facilities including GIS and statistical infrastructure are available to all full-time students as well as to part-time students during on-campus block weeks.


The decicion of the panel and the Director is final and no discussion and or correspondence regarding the selection will influence decisions. Limited seating as explained above - Closing for online applications end of September every year. Submit documentation in Full (academic records, SAQA certificates and proof of TOEFL proficiency)

Last edited by Marinda Cilliers

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