Master's Programmes



The Department of Sociology offers three Master’s degree programmes. These are:

  • MSocSci (Industrial Sociology and Labour Studies)
  • MSocSci (Sociology)
  • MSocSci (Gender Studies)

These programmes are offered in two formats:

  1. a taught coursework programme (one year of coursework and proposal development and six months for finalising a mini-dissertation), or 
  2. by dissertation (one year for proposal development and two more years for finalising the dissertation).

Applicants have to choose both a specialisation (i.e. Gender Studies; Sociology; Industrial Sociology and Labour Studies) as well as the model (i.e. coursework or dissertation).


Coursework master’s programme: 

Our three MSocSci coursework programmes in Gender Studies OR Sociology Or Industrial Sociology and Labour Studies comprise of compulsory modules and optional modules from a preselected list as well as a mini-dissertation.

MSocSci Industrial Sociology and Labour Studies​

MSocSci (Sociology) 

MSocSci (Gender Studies)

The mini-dissertation constitutes the research component of all coursework master's degrees and is based on independent research undertaken by the student, under the guidance of a supervisor, on an approved topic.The mini-dissertation constitutes half of the degree and follows on from the coursework which constitutes the other half.


Admission requirements:

An average of at least 70% in your honours studies is required. See more details via the programme links above.     


Master’s by dissertation programme:

Students have to register for an MSocSci by dissertation degree in one of the three specialisations:

A full research dissertation, based on independent research done by the student on an approved topic in the discipline, is written under the guidance of a supervisor. 


  • The duration of the coursework master’s programme is 18 months, but we do allow students to submit the mini-dissertation no later than at the end of 24 months.
  • The duration of the master’s by dissertation programme is a maximum of 36 months.

Selection: ​

  • As we have a limited number of placements on offer every year, prospective students who meet the minimum criteria stated above are interviewed by the Postgraduate Committee. (In some cases, a telephonic interview will be arranged).
  • Where students have not yet completed their honours degrees, they will be invited for interviews if they have achieved the required average for modules in the first semester. If successful, such applicants will be granted provisional acceptance, pending their final results.
  • The Department of Sociology conducts postgraduate interviews in the last week of October, and November and January.
  • Students may be admitted to the programme on condition that they take additional modules to prepare them adequately for their specialisation.
  • Students may be required to submit a qualifying essay or sit for an examination.
  • If you want to check that your application has been received by the Student Client Services, please contact: +27 (0)12 420 4111 or [email protected].
  • If you want to track the progress of your application in the Sociology department, please contact Prof Debby Bonnin on +2712 420 2624 or at [email protected].

Closing date:

  • We accept applications until 30 November. However, we have a limited number of placements on offer each year, so early applicants have a better chance of securing a place.
  • Applications for international students close on 31 October. Students should endeavour to apply early in order to acquire the required visa documentation in time for the start of the next academic year, as it is a requirement that students attend courses from the outset.

Application procedure:

  • Follow this link to apply:
  • Attach the following to your application: 
    • A full academic transcript of all years of tertiary study at all institutions attended.
    • A two-page outline of your research topic (only students interested in the master’s by dissertation option)
    • A copy of your honours research paper (only students interested in the master’s by dissertation option)
    • SAQA accreditation (only applicable to International Students)
    • (Please note, we do not require copies of your degree certificates at this point)
  • Submit this set of documents either directly to the Client Services Centre on campus or by mail.
    • Physical address: Client Services Centre, University of Pretoria, Corner Lynnwood and Roper Street, Hatfield, Pretoria. 
    • Postal address: Client Services Centre, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield, 0028, South Africa.
  • Once we receive your application, your application will serve before the departmental postgraduate committee for consideration. If you meet the minimum requirements and you have submitted all the required documents, you will be invited for an interview.  (In some cases, we may be able to arrange a telephonic interview).
  • The Department of Sociology conducts postgraduate interviews in the last week of September, October, November.
  • If you want to check that your application has been received by the Client Services Centre, please contact: +27 (0)12 420 4111 or [email protected]
  • If you want to track the progress of your application in the  Sociology department, please contact Prof Debby Bonnin on +2712 420 2624 or at [email protected].

More information:

Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions below.
If you need additional information contact .Prof Debby Bonnin on +2712 420 2624 or at [email protected].


I am unsure as to whether I should enrol for the master’s by coursework or by dissertation. What is the difference?

Most of the leading international universities offer master’s programmes by coursework because these allow students access to high calibre teaching from experts in the field coupled with a structured programme, thereby ensuring that students establish strong foundations in the field in which they are specialising. In general, the master’s by coursework is intense and fast-paced, but it has the advantage that you leave with a solid qualification in 18 months, and that you have the experience of independent research together with exposure to current theoretical debates in the field. In addition, the master’s by coursework programme is designed around the experience of intimate learning in small groups, where there is a considerable amount of peer support.

The master’s by dissertation, on the other hand, is a programme particularly suited to people who feel that they already have a strong foundation in the field in which they plan to specialise, and who have a clear idea of the research problem they want to explore in their study. In addition, this programme suits those who prefer to produce their own structure rather than to adapt to the structure of a taught programme. Students on a master’s by dissertation programme generally receive input only from their supervisor and need to be able to work independently in order to ensure completion. We do have evidence that students take long to complete the master’s by dissertation and that some students do not complete.  The master’s by dissertation programme does, however, allow for more in-depth research on a specific topic. Of course, this programme is the only option for students who are unable to attend classes.

In terms of status, there is no difference between the two degrees. Both lead on to the doctorate for students who have performed well, and both degrees are suitable for academic and non-academic career trajectories. In some cases, there is more funding available for master’s by dissertation programmes, because these are purely research-based degrees.

I can only start the master’s programme mid-year. Is that allowed?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept students mid-year. If you are interested in pursuing master’s studies, we encourage students to use the time before the start of the next academic year to read up in their field of interest, and to submit their application for studies for the following year between September and November.

I do not meet the minimum requirement of 70% for my honours. What should I do?

If you fall below a 70% average, we strongly recommend that you consider redoing your honours in Sociology, Industrial Sociology or Gender Studies or a cognate field. A mark range below 70% indicates that you are not adequately prepared for the demands of the master’s study.

I am an international student. I have been told that I need a SAQA certificate. Why do I need this and how do I go about acquiring it?

A SAQA certificate is issued by the South African Qualifications Authority. Such a certificate certifies each of the thousands of international qualifications that exist and interprets these in relation to the South African qualifications framework. It is, therefore, necessary to obtain such a certificate to ensure that applicants are given access to the correct level of study. SAQA certification can be obtained online or by hard copy submission. Details can be found on the South African Qualification Authority’s web site:

I am interested in doing a master’s in Gender studies, but I already have a master’s degree in another discipline. Can I do another master’s degree?

Yes, you can. But bear in mind that if you did well enough in your master’s (i.e. achieved at least 70% in your core modules), and if your master’s is in a field that is broadly aligned with the social sciences or humanities, we may consider admitting you to a D Phil in Sociology with specialisation in Gender Studies, provided that you take one or two taught modules at the master’s level in addition.  In that case, simply indicate on your application for that the D Phil (Sociology with specialisation in Gender Studies) is your 1st choice and the MSocSci (Gender Studies) your 2nd choice.

I am nervous about the interview. What can I expect to be asked and how should I prepare?

Interviews are generally quite informal. Expect to meet between three and four staff members. We use the interview as an opportunity to get to know you better. What we would like to know from you, in particular, is what makes you interested in pursuing postgraduate studies in your chosen field. We would also like to get a sense of your undergraduate and honours training. What did you learn; which of the courses you did you enjoy most; why is that? Because the master’s programme requires of students to do independent research, we would like to talk to you about your interests and whether there are particular topics or themes that you are interested in doing research on.  Finally, the interview provides you with the opportunity to get to know the department and some of the teaching staff. It is also a good place to find out if what the programme offers matches your expectations.

I need a bursary. Can you assist?

 For more details:

What are the possibilities for a tutorship appointment or part-time work in the department?

We do have a tutor programme in our department and we welcome applications. The availability of position depends on funding, though. Once you have received confirmation that you have been accepted into the programme, please indicate to us that you are interested in a tutorship, student assistant work or general part-time work. 

I have been unsuccessful in my application. What should I do if I still want to pursue postgraduate studies with UP Sociology?

If you have not been successful, you may consider applying for master’s programmes both inside the university and at other universities where different entry requirements apply. Should you do well in such a master’s degree, you can re-apply to UP Sociology for a D Phil or a second master’s degree. Alternatively, you can consider enrolling for an honours in sociology again, both at UP or at another institution. If you achieve a 70% average, you can re-apply for the master’s. (Prospective Gender Studies students who do not meet the entry requirements can consider redoing their honours in a related field – but it is best to do so in consultation with us, so that we can indicate which fields will be most helpful in preparing you for a master’s programme in Gender Studies. Please contact Prof Debby Bonnin on +2712 420 2624 or at [email protected].


For further queries about Master’s programmes, contact Prof Debby Bonnin on +2712 420 2624 or at [email protected]. 

- Author Mariana Pietersen

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