Prospective postgraduate students
Below you will find the application procedures for Honours as well as MSc and PhD students.
1. Earth Sciences Honours Programme
The Honours year is an intense and exciting journey through a multitude of subjects and your research project.
Important information and announcements:
- Note that the Honours course is taught in English.
- The Honours Course 2024 begins Monday 22 January 2024.
- All Honours students must attend the Programme from the very first day onwards. You cannot join the programme later!
- On that note: the Programme runs from January to November and does not adhere to the undergaduate semester structure. There is no recess in our Honours Programme (no, not even in June/July).
Important resources for further information:
1.1. Honours application for students currently enrolled in the BSc programme in Earth Sciences:
If you wish to apply for the Applied Geology or Environmental Geochemistry Honours courses offered within the Department of Earth Sciences and you are a current SU student, you have to
- apply with the Department of Earth Sciences using this internal application form: Internal Application Honours 2024 (Deadline: 13 October 2023)
This deadline is independent of the SU application deadline (below).
Plan your Honours research project:
It is essential to contact potential supervisors before your internal application. There are different approaches to finding your Honours project.
2. Have a look at our department's research profile [link] and individual lecturers' research profiles [link]. When you found an interesting topic or project that you would like to work with, contact the respective supervisor. Do not just assume this is "your" project or that you will become part of a group without discussing it with the respective supervisor.
3. Contact the lecturers directly. In this department we have an open office policy, come speak to us in the office.
Be proactive with regard to bursaries e.g. check out our website [link], and take note of emails that we typically send to 3rd yr students regarding deadlines, but search also for other opportunities.
Admission process and timeline:
Provide us with an email address that we can contact in December/January as you may miss the deadline for acceptance otherwise. We will contact you via email only. We will not make use of any other form of correspondance. It is therefore very important that you check your email account regularly in December/January or provide us with an alternative email of a person of your trust who does check regularly. Successful candidates will receive further information regarding registration once they accepted the place. We expect all successful candidates to have registered with the university before the first day of class.
1.2. Honours application for external students
If you are an external student interested in applying for Honours with the Department of Earth Sciences at SU, you have to apply via the university first. The faculty will forward the list of external applicants and we may contact some candidates to request additional information regarding their academic record.
Admission information for external students: https://www.sun.ac.za/english/pgstudies
Be proactive with regard to bursaries e.g. check out our website, but search also for other opportunities.
2. MSc and PhD application
Interested in the Department's research? All our higher degrees (MSc and PhD) are by research only, which means that you will work on a specific research topic and finalize this with a thesis and an oral defence.
You need to apply with the Department and with the University. For application with the University see point #4 (below) on How to Apply via the SUNStudent portal. However, do not apply 'blindly' online with the university for an MSc or PhD in Earth Sciences! We will not consider MSc and PhD applications that have not completed the Departmental Application (below). Students interested in doing a research project at Stellenbosch Earth Sciences are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the research fields offered by the Department and respective academic members of staff. Search the list of academic staff and their research interests, or directly approach your preferred researcher to discuss if they would accept you as a research student under their supervision. When you contact an academic staff member in our department, always state your academic background (e.g. field of BSc/Hons studies), your research interests and why you decided to apply for MSc or PhD at the Earth Sciences Department in Stellenbosch. You may also provide your academic record and a brief CV.
For the Departmental application to the Research Student Committee (RSC) the proposal must include the following information:
departmental application form (word file - please use SU login if you are a current student. If you are an external student and can not access the form please contact your supervisor)
- a short CV of the student (maximum one A4 page)
- a description of the study area or field of research
- a projected timeframe for completion of the project
- details of the logistics of the research project
- details of the budget and financing required to complete the research project
Only after the Research Student Committee approves the proposal it can recommend the student for registration with the Science Faculty. The student may then register for the chosen degree with the Faculty of Science.
Further information on our M and D application process:
For general enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that, if you are an international student applying from another country, your initial application (after discussions with the potential supervisor, but prior to departmental approval) must go through the university's Postgraduate and International Office. The Postgraduate Office will determine your eligibility to apply at different degree levels. Please see the following URL for details:
If you still have time, visit us during the Open Day held every year. Find info here: SU Maties - Events
4. How to apply via SUNStudent (all postgraduate levels)
Access the portal HERE: https://student.sun.ac.za/
Step 1: Log into the applications page via the Applicant icon, and select the Create a profile link.
Step 2: Select the button Current/Previous Student or Staff.
Step 3: Type your student number and date of birth in the following format: <Student number>yyyymmdd> (example: 1234567820020612 and click Fetch Details.
Step 4: Update the Create Profile page.
NOTE: Information marked in grey can only be updated via a formal email to email@example.com to request such changes. You may use the email address provided on the profile page or you may replace it with a new email address for communication with you.
Step 5: Create a new password for your application for 2023.
Step 6: Once you have completed the Create Your Profile page and have clicked on the Create button, a successful message will appear. You can then select the link to continue with your application, or return to the application page. Here you will be required to enter the same email address and password details you provided on your Create Profile page in step 4.
Step 7: On the application portal page, click on Programme Selection and then Add to select the programme you would like to apply for. Select the Faculty, Programme Type and Programme, Year of studies and click Save.
Step 8: Click Personal Information and complete the outstanding details. Click Save.
Step 9: Click Payment and agreement. Select “I accept the Application Terms and Conditions" and click Submit Application.
Step 10: Students who are currently registered at Stellenbosch University and students who were registered in 2022, but discontinued their studies, are not required to pay an application fee. On the Payment and Agreement page you must click on Will pay later option to enable us to waive the application fee when you submit your application.