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Postgraduate Degrees


The Department of Computer Science offers research-based MSc and PhD degrees, and now also a Masters in IT (MIT) degree by coursework and dissertation.

Masters in IT

The focus of the MIT (Stream C: Big Data Science) degree is to provide educational opportunities on a post-graduate level for researchers and practitioners in Big Data Science cognizant of the needs on the South African landscape. Graduate professionals from industry can leverage this degree to re-skill themselves in the foundational building blocks of Big Data Science whilst researchers can excel in Big Data and Data Science as research disciplines. The curriculum contains 180 credits, half of which are required courses and the other half is a research-based mini-dissertation. For more information see

MSc and PhD degrees

In both research-based MSc and PhD degrees, a student works under the guidance of a supervisor and is expected to identify and pursue a research project. Research results are to be fully reported in an MSc dissertation or PhD thesis respectively.

The department thus follows the system of MSc's and PhD's by research only, i.e. these degrees are not module-driven, as is sometimes the case elsewhere. In particular, the Department does not offer an MSc degree that has the flavour of a conversion degree from some other discipline into computer science.

Since a pure Computer Science research-oriented student does not have daily commitments (classes, etc.) it is not absolutely necessary to do these degrees on a fulltime basis. However, it is highly desirable to do so, even if only for a limited period in order to get the research process going. Whatever mode of study the student chooses (full- or part-time), regular discussions and interaction with the supervisor are important. While this can sometimes take place electronically, it is also important to hold regular across-the-table discussions. Thus, staff will not normally enter into a supervisory relationship with a student who is not physically resident within reasonably proximity of the university.

The minimum registration period for an MSc is one year, and for a PhD it is two years.In practice, almost all part-time students will take at least double this minimum time. Many full-time students, for one or other reason, also take a few months more than the minimum time.

The outcome of an MSc is a dissertation that demonstrates to an examination panel that that the student has the ability to plan, initiate, carry out and report on a scientific investigation. An article should have been submitted to an ISI journal on completion of the dissertation

The outcome of a PhD is a thesis that demonstrates to an examination panel that the student has the ability to independently plan, initiate, carry out and report on a scientific investigation. The research work done should be a significant and original contribution to the body of knowledge in the area of specialisation. Two articles should have been submitted to ISI journals before the end of the research period.

A PhD thus differs from an MSc in terms of scope, depth, degree of independent work expected of the student, originality in the research results, etc.


Please view the University of Pretoria Postgraduate Fees page for the latest information on fees.In 2016, the annual tuition fee was R14 000 for MSc and R15 000 for PhD, of which R7500 is payable on registration.

Funding and assistantships

For information on postgraduate funding, navigate from the UP webpage
Postgraduate Students -> Fees and Funding -> Postgraduate Funding

The department also has available a limited number of teaching and research assistantships that may be filled by South African citizens, or international citizens with valid work permits. Details can be obtained from Ms Elmarie Willemse.

Application closing date

Prospective students may apply at any stage, but applications for 2016 will be considered until 29 February 2016.

You are welcome to contact Hein Venter for further guidance about postgraduate studies if and only if you have thoroughly read all the information on this page.

Relevant External Information

  • EBIT Faculty Website: More information about our faculty, the faculty of Engineering, Built-environment and IT.
  • Administrative Information: The on-line Client Services Center website manages information about tuition fees, financing and accomodation.
  • On-line Application: Apply on-line to study at the University of Pretoria

Admission criteria


The entry requirement for an MSc degree is a four-year BSc(Hons) degree in Computer Science, with a 65% average (or demonstrably equivalent qualifications). Note that even though many foreign degrees may use the nomenclature BSs(Hons), may take four years to complete, and may even be assessed by SAQA (see below) to be the equivalent of a South African BSc(Hons) degree, the degrees are in fact not quite of the same standard. Students who do not qualify directly may find it advantageous to complete the CS Honours degree before attempting an MSc. Students who formally qualify, but do not have the necessary background or experience may be required by the supervisor to take some undergraduate or honours modules. Full-time study is strongly encouraged, even if only for part of the study period.


The prospective student should have passed an MSc degree in computer science (or equivalent) from an accredited university and should have obtained a mark of 70%.

N.B. Students from outside South Africa who apply for either PhD or MSc admission need to have their highest university qualification certified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). This will indicate SAQA's estimate of the qualification's level, relative to similar South African qualifications. This certificate should be included in the documentation that is to accompany your application. Note, however, that in the light of the department's high standards, SAQA's assessment is not regarded as binding. The department reserves the right to make a more thorough assessment of the applicant's academic transcript and to form an independent view of the applicant's suitability for postgraduate studies, should this be deemed necessary.

Admission procedure

If you want to do an MSc or PhD degree in this department, and if you meet the criteria for admission, then your immediate task is to identify a research area and potential supervisor. If you do not have a specific area that interests you, then you should spend time browsing through academic journals, the web, etc, until you identify some general area of interest. You might even identify some specific research project that you particularly want to undertake.

Once you have identified your chosen research area(s) and/or project, you should look for a potential supervisor who has appropriate interests and expertise. You should get in touch with that person and investigate the possibility of doing post graduate studies under his/her supervision. Some supervisors are in a position to propose specific research projects within their domain of expertise, while others might expect you to come up with a proposal for a research project on your own.

The relationship between student and supervisor is usually a reasonably close one, and it is important that the parties involved should get along. Because of this, there is a fairly widely accepted international protocol about how that relationship should proceed:

  • A potential supervisor has a perfect right to turn down your request for supervision without being obligated to give reasons for doing so. These reasons may be work-load related; the supervisor may simply not feel comfortable with you as a person, or may not feel at ease with your proposed project. Whatever the case, most academics will not easily reject the opportunity of supervising post graduate studies, so be assured that you will not be rejected for trivial reasons.
  • However, if your request is accepted, then the supervisor will continue to serve you in that capacity unless you withdraw and seek out someone else. Again, a student has a perfect right to withdraw in the early phases of a research project, perhaps moving on to some other supervisor. However, the student does not have the right to migrate work that might relate to a larger research project of one supervisor over to some other supervisor, unless there is general agreement amongst all parties about the matter. Thus, changing your supervisor may also mean starting over with a new research project.

Once you have found a supervisor, then and only then, should you start the more formal university application and registration processes.

  • You first have to go through the process of applying for admission.
  • Once your admission is formally approved by the department, then you will be able to register, and study fees will have to be paid.
  • You can go through these processes online, or you can visit the Engineering, Built Environment and IT faculty administration offices in the Engineering Building 1, floor 6.
  • Whatever formal route you choose for your application / registration, kindly inform the postgraduate coordinator of the fact that you will be applying, and indicate which person has agreed to be your supervisor. Applications received by the department that are not specifically linked to a supervisor in this way, will not be approved.
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