The Faculty of Science offers a unique and enriching postgraduate experience, and qualifications that are respected throughout the world. As a Faculty within Africa’s top research-led university, we are home to many world-ranked researchers, and located in a geographic region that offers many unique opportunities for innovative research. 

We offer a wide range of postgraduate study programmes designed to build the intellectual and technical capacity of our students to find creative solutions for the challenges facing society or pursue interests in fundamental scientific enquiry. Conceptual and practical training prepares our graduates for leadership in research, policy, and decision-making, equipping them for a wide range of professional and academic career paths both in and beyond South Africa.

Become part of the many innovative and dynamic teams that perform cutting-edge research on:

  • African climate change and sustainable development.
  • The international SKA radio telescope project.
  • Chemical and molecular research aimed at the fight against diseases prevalent in Africa.
  • Exciting marine biology and oceanography programmes focusing on coastal waters, the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean.
  • The Large Hadron Collider’s particle physics projects, working with the international consortium at CERN.
  • Investigating the internationally famous Western Cape Floral Kingdom.
  • Computer science and ICT for development.

Degrees Offered

A summary of the postgraduate qualifications offered can be found here. For more information on individual degrees, their associated rules and admission requirements, refer to the Faculty Handbook and UCT’s General Rules and Policies.

Honours is an intensive year-long program of advanced study within a particular discipline.

A candidate entering an Honours degree must generally have a BSc degree in the appropriate discipline.


A candidate entering a Master’s degree must have a Bachelor of Science Honours degree or a four-year undergraduate equivalent (i.e. a four-year degree post-South African National Senior Certificate equivalent, which includes a research project).

Applicants have a choice between a Master of Science (MSc) or a Master of Philosophy (MPhil). Both are offered as research-based or part coursework degrees, with the majority of students completing a research-based Master’s degree.

Master of Science (MSc)

The research-based MSc requires the submission of a dissertation on a selected research topic, completed under the guidance of a supervisor.

The MSc by coursework and minor dissertation is a degree in which a candidate completes part of the requirement through coursework, and the other by way of a minor dissertation on a piece of supervised research. The dissertation is smaller in scope.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

This is either a research degree, or a degree obtained by coursework and minor dissertation, for candidates engaged in cross-faculty research dissertations or where a candidate comes from a non-science academic background.


This is a research degree that requires a candidate to be able to conduct independent research on their own initiative. Through the thesis, the candidate must be able to demonstrate that they are at the academic forefront in the topic selected, that the work is original and that it advances knowledge in the field.

Applicants for a PhD must have a Master’s degree.



The University has a dedicated Postgraduate Funding Office responsible for the management and administration of postgraduate awards, scholarships, fellowships, and bursaries. With an extensive database, it informs students of available funding opportunities, assists with applications, and lobbies for additional funding. Further information on funding for postgraduate students can be found here.

Additional funding for Master and PhD students is available via supervisor research grants, and a limited number are provided by the Science Faculty. The latter are managed via applications that are made with the support of an applicant’s intended supervisor.

Last updated 15 Jan 2024