MPHIL in Higher Education

Development of research skills

The MPhil in Higher Education offers participants the opportunity to engage with current thinking about higher education issues, and develop their research skills in investigating such issues.


Admission requirements

Candidates should meet the following prerequisites to be admitted to the MPhil in Higher Education:

  • an applicable Honours degree, and be employed in a higher education environment for at least two years; or
  • any other academic-professional combination of studies equal to a Honours degree which the Senate deems suitable for admission to this programme, and be employed in a higher education environment; or
  • evidence that a candidate has reached a standard of competence in higher education, demonstrated through the process of evaluation of prior learning and according to the judgement of Senate, is regarded as being sufficient for submission.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

    The University of Stellenbosch has accepted a policy for the assessment and recognition of prior learning (RPL) on which the Centre currently draws to assess RPL applications, which is based on the premise of access rather than credit. Based on the information you provide if you do not meet the criteria for acceptance into the programme, we shall assess your application and let you know about the outcome as soon as possible. For more information about the RPL process, please contact Prof Peter Rule at

    Learning outcomes

    Apart from the critical/generic learning outcomes, which include self-management, problem solving, critical evaluation, effective communication and systemic thought, the programme requires of students to demonstrate research skills, reflective skills, writing skills, planning and evaluation skills, as well as the skill to integrate and apply knowledge in professional academic contexts.

    Structure and credit value of modules

    Module Topic Credits
    Year 1
    1 Perspectives in higher education 10
    2 Student learning in higher education 10
    3 Foundations of research 10
    4 Research in higher education 10
    5 Curriculum and programme design in higher education 10
    6 Teaching in higher education 10
    Year 2
    7 Assessment and evaluation in higher education 10
    8 Scholarship in higher education * 10
    9 Technology in higher education * 10
    10 Staff development in higher education * 10
    11 Leadership in higher education * 10
    12 Scholarship of Engagement * 10
    13 Research thesis** 100
      Total 220

    * A selection of two modules from 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12

    ** The main part of the thesis is usually written in the second semester of the second year.


    The following formative/continuous assessment techniques apply:

  • Assignment completed within institutional contexts for each module (1-12);
  • Group activities and tasks for each of the twelve modules during the two-week residential period at the beginning of each year;
  • Self-reflective study portfolios where applicable.
  • Final assessment includes the following:

    A thesis on a chosen topic which focuses on an issue in Higher Education, determined and completed in consultation with an appointed supervisor.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Q. Who facilitates the programme?

    Prof Liezel Frick, director of the Centre for Higher and Adult Education, co-ordinates this programme. The programme is presented together with Prof Magda Fourie-Malherbe and Prof Peter Rule of the CHAE and other guest lecturers in the different modules. All facilitators have shared experience on various aspects concerning Higher Education.
    The Centre functions under the auspices of the Department of Curriculum Studies based in the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University.

    Q. How is the programme facilitated?

    Twelve modules (seven compulsory and five electives) are presented over a period of two years. A short and compulsory residential period of two weeks, usually in February, introduces each study year. The rest of the programme is presented via electronic communication and assignments. Learning is facilitated via structured study materials, written assignments and feedback, as well as telephonic and electronic contact. Where possible and feasible site visits to students form part of the programme.

    Q. How can I obtain more information on the programme and application procedures?

    Should you require more information on the learning outcomes, programme or information on modules, or if you would like to complete an application form, please get in touch with the Centre for Higher and Adult Education at the following address:

    The Secretary and Course Administrator - Ms Rhoda van Rensburg
    Centre for Higher and Adult Education
    Faculty of Education
    University of Stellenbosch
    Private Bag X1

    Phone: + 27 (0)21 808 2277/78/94
    Fax: +27 (0)21 808 2270

    Q. Enquiries with regard to Student Fees:

    Contact Mr Deon Immelman

    Phone: + 27 (0)21 808 4527

    Q. General information for students

    Go to Prospective Postgraduate Student website for information on application procedures, academic programmes, student fees, accommodation, student activities and other useful information for students.

    Graduates (2007-2017)

    Du Plessis, M (2017). Evaluating an isiXhosa clinical communication course at a health sciences faculty (cum laude). Supervisor: Prof M Fourie-Malherbe, Co-supervisor: Dr E Archer

    Boshoff, HJ (2016). The relative influence of two difference teaching strategies on the academic performance of a group of undergraduate Radiography students in anatomy studies. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Van der Merwe, C (2016). Experiences of feedback on medical students clinical skills performance in a clinical skills centre (cum laude). Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer, Co-supervisor: Ms E Archer.

    Conradie, L (2016). Die problematiek van Wiskunde en Wiskundige Geletterdheid as voorbereiding vir Bag-studie aan die Elsenburg Landbou-Opleidingsinstituut. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Ross, K (2016). Factors influencing the academic success of first-year students in Chemistry at an agricultural training institution. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Boshoff, H (2015). Potential barriers to international exchange semesters at Stellenbosch University (cum laude). Supervisor: Prof M Fourie-Malherbe

    Du Plessis, H (2015). Evaluating the effectiveness of Advanced Programme Mathematics in preparing learners for university Mathematics (cum laude). Supervisor: Prof M Ndlovu, Co-supervisor: Prof M Fourie-Malherbe

    Matlala, S (2015). The experiences of secondary school B.Ed (in-service) mathematics teachers about teaching mathematics through problem solving approach. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer, Co-supervisor: Prof D Wessels.

    Theron, E (2014). Student engagement as a way of enhancing student success at a private higher education institution. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Bester, M (2013). Embedding graduate attributes in higher education curricula: An investigation into staff conceptions and orientations. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Dunn, M (2013). Promoting social change amongst students in higher education: an evaluation of the Listening, Living and Learning senior student housing programme at Stellenbosch University (cum laude). Supervisor: Prof M Fourie-Malherbe.

    Lourens, E (2013). Understanding the experiences of educationally disadvantaged students at Stellenbosch University (cum laude). Supervisor: Dr M Ndlovu, Co-supervisor: Prof M Fourie-Malherbe

    Swart, C (2013). An analysis of the tourism curriculum at Boland College: What the tourism industry in Stellenbosch requires from entry level employees. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Vandenbergh, SJE (2013). An ontological framework for facilitating success in doctoral studies at a South African university. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer, Co-supervisor: Dr BL Frick.

    Van Zyl, A (2013). Teaching strategies of nurse educators regarding a potential theory-practice gap: An explorative study. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Coetzee, K (2012). The value of facilitation and mentoring in a Management and Leadership Fundamentals programme for Registered Nurses. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Jacobsz, J (2012). Stakeholders perceptions of an institutional quality audit: A Case Study. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Mohapili, A (2012). Exploring student teachers active learning through self-assessment, peer assessment and reflection in a Namibian College of Education. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Maart, R (2011). The alignment of assessment practices in Prosthetic Dentistry. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Chainda, A (2010). Investigating third-year students perception of the effect of the application of ICT on learning at a teachers college in Namibia. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Essa, I (2010). Exploring students reasons for non-completion in a postgraduate non-clinical nursing programme presented via interactive telematic education at Stellenbosch University. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Koen, M (2010). Exploring assessment in one South African higher education classroom. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    De Jager, E (2009). Studente se belewenis van 'n addisionele hulpgroep in 'n eerstejaarsmodule in Finansiële Rekeniningkunde. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Gugushe, T (2009). Curriculum innovation among educators in South African dental schools : attitudes, beliefs and perceptions. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.

    Archer, E (2008). Using simulation in a Clinical Skills Centre to achieve procedural competency in a Critical Care Nursing programme. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer

    Appollis, J (2008). Perceptions of staff on collegiality and accountability in promoting quality assurance at Helderberg College. Supervisor: Prof EM Bitzer.