Masters

The MA programme offers students the opportunity to develop a structured research programme on a selected topic at a more advanced level than the Honours programme, drawing on the theoretical and methodological traditions within the disciplines of either Sociology or Social Anthropology.

The programme is an essential step along the career path of academics and researchers and will also be of benefit to social analysts, planners, developers and consultants, as well as to those working professionally in specific fields, such as government, health, development, education, the environment, social policy, gender programming and the media.

Students are expected to develop and demonstrate the conceptual and research skills necessary for the study of society and human relations at an advanced level, while deepening their knowledge of and insight into society, including from a comparative perspective. The focus is on deepening the student‟s grasp of the theoretical and methodological foundations of Sociology or Social Anthropology as well as his/her ability to apply sociological or social anthropological theory, analysis and research methodology in a selected field of study.

Programme design

Candidates obtain a MA degree in either Sociology or Social Anthropology primarily by research thesis. The programme involves a minimum of one year fulltime study, although a period of 18 months to two years is more common and students are urged to budget their time accordingly. Arrangements can be made for part-time study.

In the first semester of registration the student must define his or her research topic and develop a suitable research proposal to guide the research in consultation with a designated supervisor. A guide for the development of a Masters proposal is available from the Department.

In support of this work students attend an orientation programme and take one module (871) intended to: (1) provide a general induction to the MA programmes, staff members’ research interests, the student-supervisor relationship, the examining process, departmental progress reporting requirements, ethics approval processes, as well as the technical requirements of a research proposal and writing a MA thesis; and (2) deepen the student‟s intellectual engagement with the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of research and research design at this level.

Failure to complete this module successfully may lead to the student being asked to withdraw from the programme.

Once the module is completed and a suitable research proposal has been developed, the students are expected to begin their research, normally by the start of the second semester of their first year of registration. The final output is a research thesis of approximately 40 000 words (excluding references and appendices); technical requirements are set out in Section 5.7 of the University Calendar.

The option of undertaking a pure research thesis without taking the support module may be considered under exceptional circumstances, upon motivation to the programme coordinator.

The supervisory relationship

With both options, the student is assigned a thesis supervisor who provides individual guidance. Students are expected to initiate appointments/discussion with their supervisors, prepare inputs and written drafts of chapters, receive comments on assignments and also report on their progress orally and in written format, including via e-mail. The supervisor’s responsibilities are to give the student advice related to the conceptualisation and design of his/her research project as well as give both written and oral feedback and comments on student work that is submitted.

It is important for students and supervisors to keep in regular contact; a rule of thumb is that on average there should be a substantive meeting or set of communications between student and supervisor every 4 – 6 weeks, or more frequently by mutual arrangement. It is also important for students to appreciate that academic staff have many other commitments and to plan their programme accordingly, especially when it comes to meeting university procedures and deadlines around submitting their work for examination. A rough rule of thumb is that staff can be expected to provide feedback within three weeks of receipt of material from their students, unless otherwise negotiated.

When it comes to the final draft of the thesis, students should be prepared to present their completed draft for final review by their supervisors no later than four weeks before the official submission date to the Postgraduate Examination Office, if they wish to meet that deadline. The Department encourages the negotiation of an individual supervisory contract between supervisor and student at the start of the supervisory relationship.

Content of the research thesis

The specialisation area of a student depends on the interest of the student and the availability of lecturers to supervise the particular topic. Students are urged to familiarise themselves with the research specialisations of staff in the Department and to explore
opportunities to link their MA studies to on-going research programmes within the Department. However, the Department also welcomes well-motivated ideas and proposals from prospective students on other topics, provided that the necessary expertise is available to offer sound supervision.

Assessment

The thesis is worth 180 credits and is examined by both an internal and an external
examiner in accordance with University rules.

Progress Report

In addition to feedback to students in individual modules, the Department reviews student progress on an annual basis by means of a Progress Report that is completed by both the student and his/her supervisor. This Report affords both students and supervisors an opportunity to reflect on the academic progress of the individual student and identify any issues or problems requiring follow-up or attention, including from the side of the Department. Failure to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress may result in the Department not recommending that a student be allowed to re-register for the programme the following year.

Programme co-ordinators

Social Anthropology:
Prof Steven Robins
Tel: +27 21 808 2090
E-mail: slr@sun.ac.za

Sociology:
Prof Lindy Heinecken
Tel: +27 21 808 2095
E-mail: lindy@sun.ac.za

The programme offers students the opportunity to develop a structured research thesis with a strong methodological focus on a selected topic (100% thesis of approximately 100 to 120 pages). The programme focuses on the development of critical thought as well as theoretical, conceptual and research competency in a specialised area of social science research, e.g. philosophy of science, research ethics, sociology of science and research management and/or with a strong methodological component.

The MA programme follows after the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Science Methods or an Honours Degree in Sociology or Social Anthropology or an equivalent qualification on NQFlevel 8. An average of at least 65%, with demonstrated academic ability, is required.

In combination with the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Science Methods, the programme will be of strong benefit to social researchers, methodology lecturers, market researchers, development planners in local and national government departments, NGO employees involved in social research activities, policy analysts and advisers.

Programme design

The programme involves a minimum of one year registration to complete a thesis. In the first term of registration the student must define his or her research topic and develop a suitable research proposal to guide the research in consultation with a designated supervisor. A guide for the development of a Masters proposal is available from the Department.

In support of this work students attend an orientation programme and are encouraged to join the MA programme in Sociology/Social Anthropology by taking one module (871) intended to (1) provide a general induction to the MA programmes, staff members‟ research interests, the student-supervisor relationship, the examining process, departmental progress reporting requirements, ethics approval processes, as well as technical requirements of a research proposal and MA thesis; and (2) deepen the student’s intellectual engagement with the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of research at this level.

Once the preliminaries are completed and a suitable research proposal has been developed, the students are expected to begin their research ideally no later than by the start of the second semester of their first year of registration. The final output is a research thesis of approximately 30,000 – 40,000 words (excluding references and appendices).

The supervisory relationship

The student is assigned a thesis supervisor who provides individual guidance. Students are expected to initiate appointments/discussion with their supervisors, prepare inputs and written drafts of chapters, receive comments on assignments and also report on their progress orally and in written format, including via e-mail. The supervisor‟s responsibilities are to give the student advice related to the conceptualisation and design of his/her research project as well as give both written and oral feedback and comments on student work that is submitted.

It is important for students and supervisors to keep regular contact; a rule of thumb is that on average there should be a substantive meeting or set of communications between student and supervisor every 4 – 6 weeks, or more frequently by mutual arrangement.

It is also important for students to appreciate that academic staff have many other commitments and to plan their programme accordingly, especially when it comes to meeting university procedures and deadlines around submitting their work for examination. A rough rule of thumb is that staff can be expected to provide feedback within three weeks of receipt of material from their students, unless otherwise negotiated. When it comes to the final draft of the thesis, students should be prepared to present their completed draft for final review by their supervisors no later than four weeks before the official submission date to the Postgraduate Examination Office, if they wish to meet that deadline. The Department encourages the negotiation of an individual supervisory contract between
supervisor and student at the start of the supervisory relationship.

Progress Report

The Department reviews student progress on an annual basis by means of a Progress Report that is completed by both the student and his/her supervisor. This Report affords both students and supervisors an opportunity to reflect on the academic progress of the individual student and identify any issues or problems requiring follow-up or attention, including from the side of the Department. Failure to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress may result in the Department not recommending that a student be allowed to reregister for the programme the following year.

Content of the research thesis

The specialisation area of a student depends on the interest of the student and the availability of lecturers to supervise the particular topic.

Students are urged to familiarise themselves with the research specialisations of staff in the Department and to explore opportunities to link their thesis to on-going research programmes within the Department. However, the Department also welcomes wellmotivated ideas and proposals from prospective students on other topics, provided that the necessary expertise is available to offer sound supervision.

Programme co-ordinator

Jan Vorster
Tel: +27 21 808 2132
E-mail: jhv3@sun.ac.za

This new M.Phil degree programme is hosted by the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology in collaboration with the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (Division of Community Health) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The purpose of the programme is to develop students‟ capacity to investigate and think critically about a range of questions concerning health and development broadly conceived. By working across diverse perspectives that transcend disciplinary boundaries, we seek to develop new methods, concepts, and practices to address the complex linkages between health and development in contemporary South Africa.

The M.Phil programme requires a minimum of one year of study. Depending on their training, students can register for one of two options for the MPhil degree.

The M.Phil by thesis (879) requires the writing of a thesis containing the results of independent research on a research problem. Additional course work supporting the development of a research proposal is required of all candidates. Once the proposal is approved by the programme committee, students begin research, analysis, and writing.

The second option (899) requires the completion of four modules and a research assignment.

NB: Students who want to follow the programme over a period longer than a year can, in consultation with the programme coordinator, enrol for those modules they want to follow in a particular year.

879 Compulsory module

13150: Thesis (Transdisciplinary Health and Development Studies) 871(180)

899 Compulsory modules

13187: Critical social theory for transdisciplinary research in health and development 771(30)
13189: History, politics and ethics of health and development in Africa 771(30)
13147: Social science methods for health and development 871(30)
13148: Directed reading for research development 871(30)
13149: Research Assignment (Transdisciplinary health and development) 871(60)

Admission Requirements

Candidates in possession of a postgraduate diploma in Transdisciplinary Health and Development Studies, a related social science honours degree or a health sciences qualification with proven experience in social science research on NQF level 8 (with an average of at least 65% in the relevant subjects, and demonstrated academic ability) may apply for the MPhil by thesis only (879).

Students with a postgraduate diploma or honours degree on NQF level 8 in an alternate field (with an average of at least 65% in the relevant subjects, and demonstrated academic ability) or equivalent professional experience may apply for the MPhil by coursework (899). An average of at least 65%, with demonstrated academic ability, is required for both options.

All applicants are encouraged to consult the programme coordinator to work out the most appropriate course of study.

The supervisory relationship

The student is assigned a thesis supervisor most appropriate to their area of research who provides individual guidance. Students are expected to initiate appointments/discussion with their supervisors, prepare inputs and written drafts of chapters, receive comments on assignments and also report on their progress orally and in written format, including via email.

The supervisor‟s responsibilities are to give the student advice related to the conceptualisation and design of his/her research project as well as give both written and oral feedback and comments on student work that is submitted.

It is important for students and supervisors to keep regular contact; a rule of thumb is that on average there should be a substantive meeting or set of communications between student and supervisor every 4 – 6 weeks, or more frequently by mutual arrangement.

It is also important for students to appreciate that academic staff have many other commitments and to plan their programme accordingly, especially when it comes to meeting university procedures and deadlines around submitting their work for examination.

A rough rule of thumb is that staff can be expected to provide feedback within three weeks of receipt of material from their students, unless otherwise negotiated. When it comes to the final draft of the thesis, students should be prepared to present their completed draft for final review by their supervisors no later than four weeks before the official submission date to the Postgraduate Examination Office, if they wish to meet that deadline. The Department encourages the negotiation of an individual supervisory contract between supervisor and student at the start of the supervisory relationship.

Progress Report

The Department reviews student progress on an annual basis by means of a Progress Report that is completed by both the student and his/her supervisor. This Report affords both students and supervisors an opportunity to reflect on the academic progress of the individual student and identify any issues or problems requiring follow-up or attention, including from the side of the Department. Failure to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress may result in the Department not recommending that a student be allowed to reregister for the programme the following year.

Content of the research thesis

The specialisation area of a student depends on the interest of the student and the availability of lecturers to supervise the particular topic in either the Faculty of Health Sciences or the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Students are urged to familiarise themselves with the research specialisations of staff affiliated with the new programme in Transdisciplinary Health and Development Studies, and to explore opportunities to link their thesis to on-going research programmes. However, the Department also welcomes well-motivated ideas and proposals from prospective students on other topics, provided that the necessary expertise is available to offer sound supervision.

Programme co-ordinator

Dr Thomas Cousins
Tel: (021) 808 2098
Email: tcousins@sun.ac.za