Programme: MPhil

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Code Faculty Department
04250006 Faculty of Law Department: Law Dean's Office
Credits Duration NQF level
Minimum duration of study: 1 year Total credits: 200 NQF level:  09

Programme information

Closing date for applications: SA applicants and non-SA applicants: 31 May of the following year.

Also consult General Academic Regulations G30-G55 as well as the LLM/MPhil Guideline document of the Faculty of Law.

The primary purpose of an MPhil by dissertation is to educate and train researchers who can contribute to the development of knowledge at an advanced level which is predominantly interdisciplinary and focused on the interrelationship between one or more legal disciplines and at least one other non-law discipline, or prepare graduates for advanced and specialised professional employment.

The minimum duration of the programme is 1 year (2 semesters) and the maximum duration is 2 years (4 semesters). The study period may only be extended in an individual case with the approval of the Faculty Postgraduate Committee on recommendation of the relevant head of department, based on good reason shown and if the student has a reasonable prospect of completing the programme in a further year of study.

Registration and renewal of registration
If admitted, a student can register immediately for the MPhil programme. The following two or three modules must be registered for and completed within one year of registration:

1. Research methodology (RHP 802) (non-credit bearing) offered by the Faculty of Law
If the student can show sufficient evidence of competence in research skills required at postgraduate level the Postgraduate Committee of the Faculty of Law on recommendation of the supervisor, may exempt the student from this module.

2. Research proposal and oral defence of the research proposal (RHP 804) (non-credit bearing)
An oral defence of the research proposal including an assessment of the feasibility of the dissertation statement, research question or questions and argument to be developed in the MPhil dissertation is required.

The supervisor convenes an adjudicating panel which is chaired by the head of department and includes the supervisor, at least one more internal adjudicator and at least one external adjudicator. An adjudicator should hold at least a master’s degree. A draft research proposal including a bibliography that covers the main fields to be covered by the study, the dissertation statement, research question or questions and argument must be sent to the examination panel three weeks prior to the oral defence. (Such a draft research proposal must first be approved by the supervisor.)

The student must convince the adjudicating panel of the feasibility of the topic and his or her knowledge of the research subject and ability to conduct the research. Where required by the panel, the draft proposal must be further reworked in light of the comments at the oral defence and a final proposal submitted to the satisfaction of the supervisor before the student may embark on the writing of the dissertation. (No exemption can be granted from this requirement.)

A proposal may only be submitted for oral defence with the written permission of the supervisor. Should the supervisor refuse to grant permission for submission, the candidate may request permission to submit from the Faculty Postgraduate Committee. The Faculty Postgraduate Committee considers the request and may allow the proposal to be submitted for defence or may turn down the request. Should the Faculty Postgraduate Committee turn down the request, the candidate may refer the matter to the Dean, who must consider the matter based on reports from the candidate, the supervisor and the Faculty Postgraduate Committee.

A student who does not complete the abovementioned two modules within one year of registration may be excluded from the Faculty and if he/she seeks readmission to the Faculty, may submit a written request to the Dean that his/her application for readmission to the Faculty be considered in terms of the set procedure.

3. Structured research proposal preparation (RHP 806) (non-credit-bearing)
The supervisor may prescribe that a particular student must follow a structured programme to be determined by the supervisor and approved by the Postgraduate Committee. The supervisor may also set the requirements, as approved by the Postgraduate Committee, for complying with the module.

Admission requirements

  1. LLB degree or BProc degree or relevant honours degree or relevant degree on SAQA level 8 and relevant work experience in legal aspects in South Africa or Africa
  2. A cumulative weighted average of at least 65% or a cumulative weighted average of below 65%:
    • relevant work experience
    • other academic qualifications
  3. An admissions examination may be required
  4. A portfolio consisting of:
    • recent research-based essays or assignments
    • a letter of motivation

Research information

With regard to the curriculum, the relevant General Academic Regulations apply and the dissertation counts 100% for the final mark. The dissertation consists of 36 000-48 000 words – including footnotes but excluding the table of contents and the bibliography. The topic of the dissertation must be relevant to a discipline in the field of legal studies, and be approved by the Dean. The final copy of the dissertation must be accompanied by a proof of submission of an article to a journal accredited by the Department of Higher Education and Training. The article must be based on the research that the student has conducted for the dissertation and be approved by the supervisor. 

A written agreement between the student and supervisor must be signed. The document serves as the basis for the interaction between the student and the supervisor. It indicates their individual roles, responsibilities and expectations and makes it clear that they are entering into a binding undertaking with each other. The supervisor has the responsibility to ensure that the dissertation is properly prepared by the student.

Pass with distinction

For the degree to be awarded with distinction a student must obtain a minimum mark of 75% for the dissertation.

Minimum credits: 200

Core modules

The regulations and rules for the degrees published here are subject to change and may be amended after the publication of this information.

The General Academic Regulations (G Regulations) and General Student Rules apply to all faculties and registered students of the University, as well as all prospective students who have accepted an offer of a place at the University of Pretoria. On registering for a programme, the student bears the responsibility of ensuring that they familiarise themselves with the General Academic Regulations applicable to their registration, as well as the relevant faculty-specific and programme-specific regulations and information as stipulated in the relevant yearbook. Ignorance concerning these regulations will not be accepted as an excuse for any transgression, or basis for an exception to any of the aforementioned regulations.

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