• The Doctoral Degrees Board Office manages the examination process of all supervised doctoral degrees.
  • Notifies PhD candidates of the approval of their candidature by the Doctoral Degrees Board.

PhD Candidature refers to your formal admittance as a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town and the endorsement of your PhD study proposal.


Brief overview of the approval process:

  1. A PhD candidate presents their research in their respective department.
  2. Submits a written proposal to their supervisor and HOD.
  3. Submits the approved written proposal to the Faculty Office.
  4. This research proposal is captured and approved in a Faculty Dean’s Circular.
  5. The Faculty Office submits the Faculty Dean’s Circulars and proposals to the DDB Office. The DDB Office captures all PhD candidature in the DDB Chair’s Circular.
  6. The DDB Chair’s Circular is ratified by the Board.
  7. Once ratified, the DDB Office formally notifies the PhD candidate by email that their candidature has been approved.
  • PhD applications and registrations are processed by the faculty offices.
  • Contact the Fees Office for all fee related queries:
    fnd-feeenq@uct.ac.za / 021 650 1704.
  • Contact Student Systems Support at sss-helpdesk@uct.ac.za should you experience any technical issues with uploading your submission documents on the PeopleSoft system.
  • Contact the CILT Helpdesk for all Turnitin related queries:
    CILT Helpdesk / 021 650 5500.
  • Contact the Student Records Office for all graduation related queries: graduation@uct.ac.za.

You must be registered for a minimum of 2 consecutive years before uploading your thesis for examination.


You are permitted to submit your thesis at any time. It is recommended that you submit it at least 5 months before the upcoming graduation ceremony to allow time for the examination process to run its course. The submission guideline dates are available on our Overview webpage.


The DDB will not insist that you obtain your supervisor’s approval but it is recommended that candidates submit with the approval of their supervisors.

  • You must inform the DDB Office that you intend to submit your thesis for examination by submitting the DDB09 intention form on PeopleSoft at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to submitting your thesis.
  • This form is available under our Downloads section.

UCT requires students to submit an electronic pdf copy of your thesis on PeopleSoft. For thesis submission requirements please consider our Thesis Service Request Checklist available under our Downloads section.

  • The thesis may not exceed 80 000 words. A concession of 10% over the word limit is permitted (i.e. 88 000 words) without seeking the DDB's approval.
  • The word count is calculated from the first word of the first chapter to the last word in the last chapter, including footnotes and excluding appendices.
  • There is no minimum word limit.
  • The 40 000 minimum word limit refers to theses that incorporate creative work.
  • The DDB08 - Thesis Open Access Suppression Form.
  • This form must be submitted prior to you uploading your thesis for examination and is available under our Downloads section.
  • Examiners will be notified of the period of confidentiality and in certain cases will be required to complete the confidentiality agreement.
  • Once your doctoral degree has been conferred your thesis will not be made available on OpenUCT (UCT’s institutional repository) during the specified suppression period.
  • Turnitin is managed by the CILT team: cilt-helpdesk@uct.ac.za / 021 650 5500.
  • All registered PhD students should be able to access the faculty Turnitin Vula or Amathuba site.
  • Please access the Turnitin site directly for further information on plagiarism and how to use Turnitin.

Please consider the Guidelines for the Inclusion of Publications in a Doctoral Thesis available under our Downloads section. To request permission to include publications in your thesis, please submit a formal motivation (approved by your supervisor) outlining your contribution to the publication/s you intend including in your thesis:

  • Include a brief overview of the thesis structure (namely, a general introduction and a discussion chapter that pulls the various chapters in the thesis together).
  • Include a list of publications that you intend to include as self-standing chapters, with the authors, title and journal information, together with your contribution to each article.
  • Should you have co-authors, you must obtain their formal written consent/permission to include the publications in your thesis.

Refer to page 4 of the guidelines:
“Written letters of support should be obtained from each co-author, attesting to their agreement on the stated contributions that the candidate made to the study and the role they played as co-authors, and that permission is granted to the student to include the co-authored paper in the thesis. In certain cases, where there are a large number of co-authors, the principal investigator and supervisor can sign such support on behalf of the group.”

  • Include a declaration from any student co-author that the work won’t be used for their higher degree purposes.
  • The consolidated email confirmations of your co-authors must be appended to your motivation and submitted to the Faculty Office.

Please consider the following information:


The final library copy of your thesis is a requirement for graduation and should be uploaded by the deadline date provided by the DDB Office, prior to the graduation ceremony.


The DDB Office will send you an acknowledgement within 7 working days, if possible.


The examination process can take up to 5 months or longer from the date of submission. The duration is largely contingent on whether examiners are nominated at the time of the submission of your thesis.

Note: UCT does not undertake to reach a decision on the award of the degree by any specific date. You will be notified of the outcome once the examination process has been completed.


The DDB Office is required to maintain confidentiality during the entire examination process. During the examination process we are not permitted to disclose the names of examiners and the due dates of examiners’ reports.

  • Examiners not nominated at the time of the submission of your thesis.
  • We recommend that you contact your supervisor to confirm whether s/he has submitted the nomination of examiners to the faculty office. S/he should not disclose the names of the nominated examiners.
  • Examiners who do not submit their reports by the report deadline date (due to medical reasons or work commitments) and may request an extension of the deadline date.
  • The appointment of an assessor.
  • The appointment of an additional examiner.

Once your examination process is concluded, the DDB Office will notify you by email of the outcome of your examination.