Specialised Masters and PhD Programme in Multilevel Government and Local Government

The South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, situated in the Dullah Omar Institute (DOI), offers high quality Masters and PhD programmes in multilevel government and local government. These programmes deal with questions such as: how are multilevel states designed? how are powers divided? how are the finances allocated to provincial and local governments? how does national government supervise subnational governments? They also deal with pertinent issues relating to the rule of law and good governance. Both programmes combine legal and constitutional studies with other disciplines, such as political science, public administration and finances. Applications are open for both admission and financial support in 2021.

LL.M/M.Phil in Multilevel Government and Local Government in 2021

This one-year Masters Course equips students to understand how South African provinces and local government work, how the multilevel system of government compares to other countries on the continent and on what global theories and practices it is based. Students emerge with a thorough understanding of how multilevel states are designed, how powers are divided, how finances are allocated, how national government supervises subnational governments (provinces and municipalities) and how different levels of government work together. The Course combines legal and constitutional studies with other disciplines, such as political science and public administration. Furthermore, it combines theory with practice, including an internship in government dealing with multilevel governance and local government. Students are taught and supervised by distinguished scholars in local government, multilevel government (decentralisation, devolution, federalism, intergovernmental relations), rule of law and good governance. They include: Prof Nico Steytler - the South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Prof Jaap de Visser - Director of the Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) at UWC, Prof Yonatan Fessha - Associate Professor at UWC’s Law Faculty and Dr Tinashe Carlton Chigwata- a Senior Researcher at DOI, who also manages the programme. In addition, eminent local and international scholars regularly teach in our programme as guest lecturers. We have previously hosted Prof Henk Kummeling, Rector of Utrecht University; Prof Xavier Philippe, University Paris II (Sorbonne); Prof Jan Erk (Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, University of Pretoria); and Prof Zemelak Ayele (Addis Ababa University).

Overview of the course

The course comprises four modules and a research paper. Students may also apply for permission to do two modules and a mini-thesis or a full thesis, instead.

The modules are:

  • Multilevel Government
  • Local Government
  • Constitutional Practice (Internship)
  • Rule of Law and Good Governance
  • Constitution Design in Divided Societies (offered by the Law Faculty)


  • Seminars for each module are conducted on Fridays, for seven weeks, from 9:00 to 16:00

The seminars will be conducted in the following order:

  • Local Government from February to March
  • Multilevel Government from April to May
  • Internship from June to July
  • RLGG from August to September


  • UWC Campus (Law Faculty)


  • Performance is assessed on the basis of (1) regular writing assignments and (2) a formal examination at the end of the module.

Internship (Constitutional Practice)

As part of the Masters programme, our students are required to undertake a two months internship to expose them to the real-life working of government and governance processes. The internship is open to students selected on the basis of their performance in the modules. Interns are placed at partner institutions in or working with government such as the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Department of Local Government, Finance and Fiscal Commission, and South African Local Government Association. Our students have consistently provided excellent reports about their time spent at these institutions. Performance during the internship is examined on the basis of a portfolio produced by the student.

Research paper

Students must write a research paper (or mini-thesis) after completing the coursework (50% of overall course mark).

Career Options

Our postgraduate programmes are a gateway to influential career positions. Our former students are occupying key positions in government, the private sector and the civil society. Some of the students are now judges; clerks at the Constitutional Court; attorneys; legal advisors; senior managers in municipalities, provincial governments and national government; and renowned academics in South Africa and beyond.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • an LLB degree, or an honours degree in political science, economics, public administration or other related social science;
  • proven ability to undertake advanced research; and
  • relevant experience, where applicable.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted to Ms Valma Hendricks by email at vhendricks@uwc.ac.za.

Applications must include a current CV, a motivation letter, certified copies of academic records (degree and transcript), and a writing sample, which may include a published article, a research paper or a thesis.

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS for ADMISSION TO THE PROGRAMME: 30 September 2020. This deadline applies only for students who do NOT want to apply for an NRF masters bursary.



How to apply for bursaries

  • The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a few masters bursaries through the South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government in the 2021 academic year.
  • The NRF minimum academic requirement for postgraduate funding is 65%. Applicants for a masters degree must be 30 years of age or younger in the year of application. Successful applicants will be funded either at Full Cost Study (FCS) or Partial Cost of Study (PCS). The FCS funding will be awarded to South African citizens and permanent residents only, who are either financially needy (i.e., those whose combined household family income is less or equal to R350 000 per annum), living with a disability or exceptional academic achievers. However, the PCS funding will be awarded to 5% of international students including South African citizens and permanent residents who could not be funded under FCS but meet other minimum requirements for the NRF scholarship funding criteria.
  • An application for a bursary must also be accompanied by an application for admission to the programme, as explained above.
  • The application for a masters bursary and admission to the masters programme is directed at the Dullah Omar Institute, addressed to Ms Valma Hendricks (vhendricks@uwc.ac.za / +27 21 959 3707): Deadline 23 June 2020

Selected students will be advised by the Dullah Omar Institute soonest to apply for an NRF bursary online: Deadline 30 June 2020.

To be nominated for a masters bursary, an applicant must have an excellent academic record as well as proven research ability. Bursaries are available only for full-time students.

LLD and PhD in Multilevel Government and Local Government

The Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) hosts a Doctoral Programme, dealing with the law, policy and practice of multilevel government in South Africa, the region and beyond. PhD candidates are supervised by senior academic staff including Prof Nico Steytler, the South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government and Prof Jaap de Visser, Director of DOI. Doctoral studies have been completed on local government in South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, federalism in Ethiopia, devolution in Kenya and Zimbabwe, and professionalisation of municipal administrations (Please note that there are no PhD positions available for the 2021 academic year).