Postgraduate Diploma in Public Law focusing on Local Government

How should municipalities in South Africa be governed, and how are they financed? What are their powers and what are their service delivery obligations? How do national and provincial governments relate to them? How do municipalities procure goods and services and what is the legal framework for managing land use? And how does South Africa’s local government system compare with systems elsewhere in Africa?

If you are interested in the answers to these questions, apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Law, focusing on Local Government, offered by the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape.

What will you learn?

The Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) is a unique programme, aimed at practitioners. It will equip you with knowledge of the South African local government system, and with skills to apply this knowledge in practice.

In addition, you will learn basic principles of public and administrative law with an emphasis on key local government areas, such as procurement and planning. The Programme is multi-disciplinary: it focuses on local government law, but is combined with political science, economics, finance and public administration to ensure a realistic and holistic approach to all aspects of municipal governance. It also looks across South Africa’s boundaries and compares our local government system with other systems on the continent.


The Diploma is accredited by the Higher Education Department, as a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Law, at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 8.


Students are taught by distinguished scholars in local government, multilevel government (federalism, intergovernmental relations), constitutional law, and administrative law (procurement, planning law etc.). These include Prof Jaap de Visser - the South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government based at DOI, Prof Nico Steytler - Professor Emeritus at DOI, and Prof Tinashe Carlton Chigwata - the Head of Multilevel Government at DOI, Dr Johandri Wright -Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and Mr Curtly Stevens. In addition, we regularly bring in experienced local government practitioners as well as eminent local and international scholars, such as Prof Stephen Berrisford and Prof Geo Quinot, as guest lecturers.

Is this Programme for me?

The PG Dip aims primarily at local government practitioners. These could be public servants, members of the legal profession, the private sector, consultants and members of civil society organisations working in local government.

Programme Overview

The programme comprises four modules of 30 NQF credits each. The modules are taught in succession, and are the following: 

  • Local Government (first semester: February-April): Law and policy pertaining to municipal institutions, governance, administration, public participation, revenue and financial management.
  • Administrative Law and Local Government (first semester: April-June ): An introduction to administrative law with a special focus on procurement and planning.
  • Constitutional Law and Local Government (second semester: July-August): An introduction to constitutional law with a focus on structures of government, the Bill of Rights, spheres of government, the public service, and the constitutional status of municipalities.
  • Multi-level Governance (second semester: September-October): The roles of the three spheres of government, including the supervision of local government and intergovernmental fiscal relations.


Students are required to complete these four modules. Each module comprises 14 seminars of two hours, taught over seven weeks. In 2021, 2022 and 2023 and due to COVID-19, teaching and learning took place exclusively online, and in the late afternoons, in order to accommodate students who are in full-time employment. In 2024, we will use online or hybrid methods of teaching and learning. Attendance at seminars is compulsory.

Expected Outcomes

Upon completion of the programme, you will be able to:

  • understand the constitutional and legislative framework for local government in South Africa, and apply this in a practical context;
  • articulate and analyse the legal, policy and financial concepts and theories that underpin local government in South Africa;
  • locate South Africa’s local government system in an international, comparative context;
  • understand and apply public law and administrative law principles and rules, particularly as they pertain to key local government areas such as procurement and planning; and
  • apply your knowledge by writing compelling and practical texts, pertaining to local government law and policy.

How long is the Programme?

You can complete the Programme (by attaining the required 120 NQF credits for the 4 modules) in a year or over two years. We accept students twice every year, namely in January (for a start in the first semester) and in May (for a start in the second semester). The academic year of the university runs from January to December. As such, any registration between this period counts as a full year.

What can I do with this Diploma?

The PG Dip is a gateway to senior positions in municipalities, provincial and national government, the private sector and civil society. Completion of the PG Dip may also assist students to gain access to the LLM/MPhil programme in Multilevel Government offered by the DOI but this is by no means automatic. Students who have completed the PG Dip and wish to pursue the LLM/Mphil Programme may apply and admission will be subject to selection by the Institute and/or the Faculty.

What former and current students said about the programme?

"This programme is recommended for any local government practitioner seeking to enhance career opportunities or grasp legislative principles, concepts and/or interpretation matters". David Joubert, Municipal Manager, West Coast District Municipality

"The PG Dip in Public Law may focus on local government but it is useful for practitioners across the broader span of government. I found the course rigorous and engaging. Since completing the programme, I am missing my weekly local government encounters". Shuaib Denyssen, Content Advisor, Committee Section, Parliament

"As a development communicator, I have been equipped with an understanding of the systems and structures of municipalities and how these impact on service delivery and community development. I highly recommend this programme to anyone with a keen interest in tackling service delivery at the local government level". Chelsea Ndlovu, Resource & Communication Coordinator, Planact

What are the requirements for admission?

To qualify for admission, you must have an undergraduate degree, with an average of 60% in the final assessment of the exit modules in relevant courses such as law, political science, public administration, and economics, together with at least three years of relevant experience in governance-related work. A good internet connection and a reliable/alternative power supply are a requirement.

International applicants who wish to apply for admission must have their foreign qualifications evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The online application for the evaluation of foreign qualifications can be accessed HERE. The relevant Evaluation Certificate or proof of submission of the evaluation application must accompany the application.

How much does it cost?

The tuition fees for the 2024 academic year are R12570,00 per module, which makes it R50280,00 for the entire Programme. Modules fees must be paid upfront before the beginning of the relevant Module. In addition, registration fees (R1660,00 in 2024) must be paid each calendar year, to enable registration. Invoices for payments can be requested via the University’s website When requesting kindly indicate the modules: ADL711, MLG714, LGL712, CLL713. Students from African countries pay module fees applicable to South African students but must pay full programme fees upfront in every year of registration. Overseas international students (those from outside Africa) pay higher fees and must pay full programme fees upfront in every year of registration. Fees are adjusted upwards annually.

How do I apply?

If you have an undergraduate degree in fields such as law, political science, public administration, and/or economics, apply here.


A minimum of 50% is required to be attained in each module forming part of this qualification. The continuous assessments will constitute 50% of the overall mark for a module while the final examination assessment make up the remaining 50% of the overall mark.

By when must I apply?

Applications for the 2025 academic year are OPEN until 30 September 2024.


Enquiries may be directed to Ms Laura Wellen.

Multilevel Government
Dullah Omar Institute
University of the Western Cape,
Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535, RSA

Tel: +27 21 959 2950/2951

Fax: +27 21 959 2411


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