Link to programme information on department website:

The PhD or Doctorate in Public and Development Management is undoubtedly an advanced and senior postgraduate qualification that leads to the generation of new knowledge.

You have made an informed decision to embark on this new academic venture and it is our pleasure to guide you through the doctoral journey by offering our expert knowledge, skills and competencies in chosen fields of study. At the SPL, our students work closely and diligently with supervisor/co-supervisors to produce pioneering scholarly research that is path breaking and innovative.

The School accepts a limited number of applications due to capacity constraints and therefore admission is based on available expertise.

This programme consists of three main phases: A proposal preparation and admission phase, a research and dissertation-writing phase and a formal examination phase.

In certain situations, where the applicant has limited work experience, the required period before enrolment for PhD after completion of Master's degree is 3 years.

In line with the Grow Your Own Timber Initiative (GOOT), applications from candidates with merit pass at Masters Qualification/Degree will also be considered. A panel appointed for this purpose will make final selection of applicants.

Eligibility criteria:

The following criteria are considered:

  • Recognised and relevant Master’s Degree (with minimum 65 percent average pass mark earned) with an ability to produce independent scholarly work.
  • Minimum work experience of at least three to five years.
  • A cogent research concept note that illustrates command of research methodology and competence in English academic writing.
Important Dates [for application in 2024]:

Applications open: 01 April 2024

Applications close: 30 September 2024

Programme start date: January 2025

Application process:

Two options are available to apply for admission to one of the faculty’s doctoral programmes:

  1. Option 1: Applications can be submitted on the SUNstudent application portal to be formally considered for admission to a doctoral programme - Once a profile has been created on SUNstudent, log in and follow the prompts to apply to the relevant PhD programme. The following documents are compulsory submissions as part of the application:
    • Comprehensive CV.
    • Evidence of written academic work.
    • Letter of motivation.
    • Research concept note (Please consult the research themes below before writing your concept note. Once you have selected a research theme, please consult the guidelines to the basic layout of a research concept note​.)
    • Summary of master’s research.
    • Certified copies of academic certificates.
    • Certified copies of academic transcripts.

    Please note that candidates that have applied formally on SUNstudent can also apply for institutional or statutory funding to qualifying options listed on the SU Postgraduate Office’s website.

  2. Option 2: Candidates can apply for a full-time doctoral scholarship from the Graduate School of Economic and Management (GEM). Successful GEM applicants are automatically granted provisional admission to the relevant PhD programme and an application on SUNstudent is therefore not required to be considered for one of the GEM scholarships. However, please note that only 2-3 of these awards are made per year.
Research themes:

Environmental Management

Public and Development Management



People management/HRM

Community Participation/Engagement

People management/HRM


Local government

Policy evaluation

Programme monitoring and evaluation

Institutionalising M&E systems

Organisational performance Management

Development Planning and Management

Developmental State and Governance

Housing and Urban Studies

Institutional Transformation

Applied Economics and Informality

Public Financial

Management Reform

Municipal Finance

Tax Policy and Administration


Values based Public Administration

Public Trust

Service Delivery

Women and Diversity

Economic approaches to environmental assessment, management and policy

Ecosystem in urban contexts

Environmental, energy and natural resource economics

Integrated ecological economic modelling

Approaches to environmental assessment, management and Policy​​