The John J. Gurney Postgraduate Research Scholarship

06 Oct 2023 | By Janney
John Gurney with students
06 Oct 2023 | By Janney

A competitively awarded scholarship, in honour of the late Prof. John J. Gurney, is being offered to support postgraduate research on some aspect of the geology of kimberlites, diamonds or the deep lithosphere (mantle and/or lower crust) at the University of Cape Town. The scholarship provides ZAR150 000 (South African Rand) to cover living expenses, plus an additional ZAR50 000 toward research-related expenses(this can include tuition fees, which range from ZAR30 000-40 000 per year) for a total of ZAR 200 000 per year. The maximum terms of the scholarship are two years for the MSc or three years for the PhD. Continuation of funding after the first year is contingent upon satisfactory progress. The recipient must have a primary supervisor who is a UCT academic staff member, but co-supervision by academic or industry scientists from other institutions is possible, as are joint degrees with other universities. Postgraduate study in the Department of Geological Sciences is by dissertation only, although the recipient will have the option to undertake coursework if deemed necessary. The primary supervisor need not necessarily be in the Department of Geological Sciences.

Applicants of any nationality are eligible. Candidates must provide: (1) a short CV providing the applicant’s educational and relevant professional background and list of publications (if any), (2) transcripts of undergraduate and any postgraduate coursework/degrees (electronic copies must be provided, they need not be certified at this stage), (3) names and contact details of two appropriate referees familiar with the applicant’s work and ability, and (4) a short proposal (two pages maximum) outlining the candidate’s chosen research problem, the approach s/he intends to use to address it, and the names of the supervisor(s) with whom s/he intends to work. Applicants will be ranked on the basis of academic excellence, strength of recommendation letters and the feasibility and quality of the research proposal. In the case of multiple similarly ranked top candidates, residents of SADC countries will have preference. Awardees who are non-South African residents will need to obtain a study permit from the South African Department of Home Affairs.

The University of Cape Town has a world-famous collection of upper mantle research specimens (mantle and lower crustal xenoliths, kimberlites, megacrysts, etc.), as well as a wide range of analytical instrumentation (electron microscopy and EPMA instruments, XRF, XRD, solution and laser ablation quadrupole and multicollector ICP-MS and a stable isotope laboratory with laser fluorination). Academic staff members in Geological Sciences cover a wide range of relevant fields (geophysics, sedimentology, lithospheric dynamics, isotope geochemistry, kimberlite and mantle geology, petrology and geochemistry, metamorphic petrology and mineralogy, please see the department website: It is recommended that, prior to applying, prospective applicants contact UCT academic staff member(s) with whom they would be interested in working.

Gurney Scholarship Document

The application deadline is October 31, 2023, with notification of the outcome by early December. Please send all application materials as a single PDF document to Prof. Phil Janney ( Evaluation of applications will be performed by a panel including UCT and international academics and industry scientists. The start date is flexible, but should be sometime in 2024 and no earlier than the start of the first semester at UCT in February