Postgraduate programmes

Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Medicine

Programme co-convenors: Dr Willem Stassen  and Dr Sanjeev Rambharose 

This research degree is offered by dissertation only. Candidates will be required to undertake an advanced, approved research project under the guidance of a supervisor, indicating successful training in methods of research.  The PhD degree is not regarded as a basis for registration as a specialist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, but can be registered as an additional qualification.

Please note: Admission requirements are subject to amendment based on new requirements of the Department of Education. Applicants for research degrees are required to submit a research proposal with their application. Prospective applicants are advised to contact the Division directly in order to present their research idea prior to completing an application.


It is unlikely that your application will be successful if you have not consulted with the PhD lead, Dr Willem Stassen, prior to the application.  You will also require an approved summary for your research project.  You can submit a summary for approval to the emergency medicine division research committee (EMDRC).  Progression to proposal and registration will not be supported until the summary has passed the EMDRC summary stage. In order to facilitate the development of your PhD idea and summary, a compulsory three-month, bootcamp will take place at the beginning of every year. Once this has been successfully completed, you will be eligible for registration on the PhD programme. Hereafter, you will be required to sign a memorandum of understanding with your supervisors and start working on your proposal.  The expectation is that you successfully achieve ethical approval for your study within a year.  As a research degree, it is expected that students wishing to apply for the PhD have an understanding of basic research concepts and principles.  Although this is not a requirement, prospective students may be required by the EMDRC to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the scientific method by passing a research methodology competency test.  Alternatively prospective students can enrol on either one of the following courses

  1. UCT MPhil's research methodology module (see below)
  2. The Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics online course from Coursera
  3. A notable exception is planned qualitative research which is not covered in these research methodology courses.  The Qualitative Research Methods online course from Coursera is recommended instead of the two research courses listed above

Once the EMDRC has approved your summary and the PhD coordinator has given you the go-ahead you can formally register.  Apply online using the course code for the PhD: CHM7064W

Upon completion of this degree (minimum 2 years, normally between 3 and 5 years), you are expected to function as an independent researcher. We are dedicated to capacity-building in academic emergency medicine. For this reason, PhD candidates will be encouraged to undertake a series of courses or seminars to bolster their learning throughout the PhD journey.

The PhD degree is awarded in recognition of high quality, original research and is conventionally assessed based on a dissertation. In addition to this, it is now possible to include publications on which you were the first author into your PhD. It is however not possible to obtain a PhD exclusively on the basis of published articles.

With regard to the date of submission of the dissertation, the number of copies to be submitted, as well as the further requirements with which students have to comply in order to graduate, the general provisions for doctorates will apply as stipulated by the University. For more information please consult the UCT doctoral page