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 Nico Steytler - the South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government based at DOI, Prof Jaap de Visser - Director of the DOI, and Prof Tinashe Carlton Chigwata - the Head of Multilevel Government at DOI, who also manages the programme. Dr Shehaam Jonhstone and Dr Michelle Maziwisa, who are both post-doctoral research fellows at DOI, also teach in the programme. In addition, we regularly bring in experienced local government practitioners as well as eminent local and international scholars, such as Prof Stephen Berrisford, 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: 

  • Constitutional Law and Local Government (second semester: July-August 2021): 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 2021): The roles of the three spheres of government, including the supervision of local government and intergovernmental fiscal relations.
  • Local Government (first semester: February-April 2022): Law and policy pertaining to municipal institutions, governance, administration, public participation, revenue and financial management.
  • Administrative Law and Local Government (first semester: April-June 2022): An introduction to administrative law with a special focus on procurement and planning.


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

If you do not have a first degree, you can apply for recognition of prior learning (RPL). In that case, extensive work experience (at least ten years) in governance-related work is required.

A good internet connection is a requirement.

How much does it cost?

The tuition fees for the 2021 academic year are R11 000, 00 per module, which makes it R44 000, 00 for the entire Programme. Modules fees must be paid upfront before the beginning of the relevant Module. You can get a 5% discount if you pay all four modules upfront. In addition, registration fees (R1445, 00 in 2021) 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.

If you do not have an undergraduate degree but you have extensive work experience (at least ten years) in governance-related work, and good writing abilities, you may apply to be considered on the basis of recognition of prior learning (RPL). To apply, click 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 2021 second semester intake closed on 31 May 2021. Applications for the 2022 first semester intake are open and close on 31 October 2021.


Enquiries may be directed to Ms Mandy Cupido, Project Administrator.

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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