1. Programme name

PhD in Law and Development

  1. Programme code

6CS R01 R901P

  1. Campus

Mahikeng and Potchefstroom

  1. Delivery mode


  1. Program leader

Dr Nelson Kekana

  1. Introduction

The PhD in Law and Development is an interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary programme designed for students with no legal background (possessing a Master of Law is not a pre-requisite for admission) interested in pursuing research that touches on law and development. Unlike the LLD where research methodology may be purely qualitative, this offering is aimed, in part, to develop the research skills of students, especially on the use of both qualitative and quantitative research design and methods. Applicants in the past have come from both academia and practice, predominantly from the various social sciences fields.

  1. Duration (minimum and maximum duration)

For full-time students, the study period is at minimum one year and the maximum duration of study is four years. For part-time students it is minimum one year and the maximum duration of study is five years. If a student has not completed the study within the maximum duration of studies allowed, the student may be terminated. The Director: Postgraduate Programmes may, however, agree to an extension after consideration of among others:

  • whether the research topic is still relevant.
  • progress already made by the student.
  • what remains to be done to complete the study.
  • what the time frame for completion is.
  • whether other students have done, are doing or wish to research the same topic; and
  • whether the supervisor is still available.
  • Admission requirements for the qualification

To gain admission to the PhD in Law and Development, a student must have obtained an LLM degree or a Masters degree with a field of specialisation in either Anthropology, Commerce, Social Sciences or Development Studies from this University or another South African university or must have the status of such Masters degree granted on request by the senate. The Director: Postgraduate Programmes may also insist that the student submit adequate proof of his/her research capabilities before permission to register is granted.

Applicants must have achieved a minimum average of 65% for the LLM degree (or relevant Masters degree with a field of specialisation in either Anthropology, Commerce, Social Sciences or Development Studies from this University or from another South African university or must have the status of such Masters degree granted on request by the senate) as well as for the dissertation (research report) to be admitted to the PhD in Law and Development programme. The Director: Postgraduate Programmes may on good grounds shown relax this requirement.

The Director: Postgraduate Programmes requires that a student furnish a four-page concept proposal submitted with the application form as proof of his/her research skills before the applicant receives permission to register.

  1. Allocation of supervisors or promoters

Students applying for a doctoral programme must consult with possible promoters simultaneously with the application process, before registration. The Faculty Board may, in exceptional circumstances, approve the appointment of a co- or assistant promoter, on the grounds of relevant technical expertise.

Where an applicant has not completed an LLM research report, the applicant must, to the satisfaction of the Director: Postgraduate Programmes, provide evidence of acceptable research skills (including but not limited to a draft (10 pages) research proposal clearly identifying the research question and problem to be researched; a comprehensive research assignment completed as part of any LLM module; or other published research).


  1. Faculty-specific requirement for a Doctor of Philosophy in Laws with Law and Development

a) If there is not sufficient capacity with regards to supervision for a programme in an academic year, the Director: Postgraduate Programmes may          decide not to offer the programme in question in that year.

b)Research doctoral degree students must (in consultation with his/her supervisor) submit the research proposals for a thesis six months after the final date of registration for doctoral degrees (31 October) in their first year of registration.

c) Students work under the supervision of a promoter approved by the Director: Postgraduate Programmes and the Faculty Board.

d) A student is required to successfully complete a research discussion six months after the approval of the research proposal. The research discussion should be in a major and two ancillary subjects prescribed in consultation with the Director: Postgraduate Programmes for the specific study, to be permitted to write a research dissertation. The evaluation of the student takes place before an appointed panel generally consisting of the executive Dean, Director: Postgraduate Programmes, Director: Research Unit (ex officio); a research professor and one internal member with expertise in the field of study, as well as two external members with expertise outside the University. The appointment of the research discussion panel and assessment procedure is conducted in accordance with the procedure approved by the Faculty Board.

e) Students are required to attend compulsory seminars of the Research Methodology programme arranged during the academic year. Permission for absence is granted only by the programme leader on good grounds.

  1. Examination

Students will be assessed according to the Academic Rules and assessment criteria prescribed by the NWU (which constitutes the summative assessment) as well as the relevant faculty rules.

The student must prepare a thesis of 100 000 to 150 000 words (including content and footnotes, excluding the bibliography) in the prescribed faculty style. Any substantial digression from this guideline is subject to the prior approval of the Director: Postgraduate Programmes before submission of the thesis for examination. The Director: Postgraduate Programmes will determine whether the length of the thesis is appropriate in the particular case.

The Turnitin or similar report which is generated must be submitted with the thesis.

The thesis must be language edited and a certificate issued by a competent language editor must be attached to the thesis.

The submission of the thesis for examination must be according to General Academic Rule 5.10.

A thesis is examined in accordance with the applicable provisions of the General Academic Rules by at least three examiners, of which at least two must be external examiners who are not attached to the University and approved by the Director: Postgraduate Programmes and the Faculty Board.

Students registered in 2019 and onwards must, before completion of their doctoral studies, prepare and submit an article for publication relating to the subject matter of his/her thesis and must provide evidence of such submission on or before closing of the graduation list. In order to qualify for the degree, the aforementioned submission must be approved by the promoter(s) and must be submitted to an accredited law journal.

The promoter submits a comprehensive report with a recommendation based on the examiners’ reports. If there is any ambiguity in an examiner’s report, or if there is a significant difference in the final result recommended by the examiners, the procedure approved by the Faculty Board will determine the final result of the student. The general provisions and guidelines in connection with the assessment of the thesis and the directions to examiners and/or arbitrators are followed in accordance with faculty guidelines

A student, who is dissatisfied with any substantive aspect of the guidance provided by a promoter, can raise such matters in writing to the Director: Postgraduate Programmes. The matter will be dealt with in accordance with the procedure as prescribed in the General Academic Rules. The director must respond in writing to the student before the thesis is submitted for examination.

A thesis may only be referred back to a candidate once, and after revision, be submitted once for re-examination within a period of one year. (Refer to Academic Rules and

  1. Qualification outcomes

On completion of this doctorate, the student should be able to

  • demonstrate expertise and critical knowledge in a specific field of Law and Development and the ability to apply the knowledge by conceptualising a research initiative to create new knowledge.
  • submit proof of thorough proficiency in the appropriate research skills by formulating a relevant and viable research topic, motivating it on the basis of a clear problem statement, developing points of departure, suppositions and hypotheses, setting a framework for the solution of the complex problem and by designing a feasible research programme.
  • display a coherent and critical understanding of the methodology applicable to the field of Law and Development to rigorously critique and evaluate current research in this field, participate in scholarly debates and research relating to theory and practice and formulate independent points of view.
  • use advanced information-retrieval and processing skills to identify, critically analyse and synthesise information relevant to issues in the area of specialisation, debating solutions from theoretical and research perspectives published in the current literature.
  • use empirical research techniques, including quantitative and/or qualitative research methods, as well as fieldwork skills in Law and Development to investigate a research problem.
  • identify, critically evaluate, address and manage emerging ethical issues and normative behaviour to advance the process of ethical decision-making as relevant to research practice and the area of Law and Development.
  • demonstrate an ability to produce substantial, independent, in-depth and publishable work which meets international standards, is considered to be original or innovative by peers, and makes a significant contribution to the field or practice of Law and Development.
  • disseminate, present, and defend research findings or strategic and policy initiatives to specialist and non-specialist audiences according to acceptable academic and professional or occupational discourse; andoperate independently and take full responsibility for own work, and where appropriate to lead, oversee and be held ultimately accountable for the final product of the research.
  1. Curricula of Doctor of Philosophy in laws with Law and Development

Qualification code

Module code



6CS R01

PHDL 971

Law and development