PhD in Futures Studies

Become a specialist in strategic foresight through doctoral research

  • Research
  • Course
  • Fees
  • Structure & Content
  • Learning Philosophy
  • Admission Requirements
Course Overview
Course starts Dependent on application
Application closes 31 March and 30 September each year

USB’s internationally accredited PhD in Futures Studies will enable you to become a specialist in the field of strategic foresight. This expertise – typically in fields such as the new world of business, social capital, security, sustainability, technology and innovation, and decision-making – will enable you to work in government, public and private corporations, financial institutions, and academic institutions.

The degree is awarded on the successful completion of a research-based dissertation. This is the only PhD degree of its kind in Africa.

  • Duration: Minimum 2 years
  • Format: Supervised research

 

These are the fees for 2021. The fees for 2022 will be added once they have been finalised.

 Programme tuition fees for 2021 2021 (1st year) 2022 (2nd year) Total Provisional Quotes
Students from South Africa R50 365 R50 365 R100 730 Download
Students from Southern African Development Community
(SADC) countries
R54 865 R54 865 R109 730 Download
International students from the rest of Africa (non-SADC countries) R59 895 R59 895 R119 790 Download
​International students from the rest of the world R59 895 R59 895 R119 790 Download
​​​​​​​Deposit payable on acceptance of admission​ for 2021
​​​​Students from South Africa R12 335
​​​​Students from Southern African Development Community
(SADC) countries
R27 433
International students from the rest of Africa
(non-SADC countries)
R29 948
​International students from the rest of the world R29 948
​​​​​​​Application fee​ for 2021/2022
Application fee (non-refundable; applicable to all students) R850
SHL selection test fee R2 950
  • Application and SHL fee: The application and SHL fee must accompany the application. The application and SHL fee is not refundable.
  • Travelling, accommodation and meals are for students’ own accounts.
  • USB reserves the right to change the fees at any time.

Overview

The programme consists of supervised research in Futures Studies, culminating in a doctoral dissertation. The minimum registration period is two years.

The preparation of your pre-proposal

Every application must include a pre-proposal, written in scientific language, on your intended research. The pre-proposal serves to demonstrate whether you have a mature approach to high-level research. It also helps us evaluate whether the topic is viable and whether we can provide appropriate supervision and resources. The world count of the pre-proposal is approximately 4 000 words (excluding references). This is what the pre-proposal must cover:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Research methodology
  • Potential contribution of the research
  • References

The preparation of your comprehensive research proposal

Once your pre-proposal has been approved, you need to submit a comprehensive research proposal. Your provisional supervisor will guide you in the preparation of your proposal. Your comprehensive research proposal will serve as your road map for the completion of your PhD. You will be formally registered for your PhD once your comprehensive research proposal has been accepted.

The actual research process and its deliverables

Through their research, PhD registrants must demonstrate the following:

  • Expertise, knowledge and reflection of theories and methods at the forefront of a field or discipline
  • The ability to apply theories, acquire new knowledge and generate new insights to confront practical and theoretical problems with the aim of proposing relevant and ethical solutions
  • The ability to communicate your work to an audience of researchers
  • The ability to take part as a researcher in the international research community

Your final dissertation will be evaluated by three examiners. This will be followed by a public oral defence of the dissertation – the viva voce.

This PhD will provide you with a transformative learning experience to find your way forward – particularly if you see your future self as a strategist, long-range decision maker, manager or leader.

This degree allows you to become an expert in Futures Studies. Your dissertation must therefore:

  • Represent an original and significant contribution to the enrichment and advancement of knowledge in your chosen field of research
  • Demonstrate originality of thought, a theoretical underpinning, relevance to the discipline and rigour in execution
  • Create intellectual capital, which is the cornerstone of the knowledge society of the 21st century.

Academic requirements

  • The MPhil in Futures Studies or a relevant master’s degree which included a substantial component related to futures studies.
  • minimum period of registration of two years.
  • The SHL selection test (see below)

SHL selection test

You need to complete the SHL abilities selection test as part of your application process. The test consists of a verbal critical reasoning assessment, numerical critical reasoning assessment, inductive reasoning test, and Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) on behavioural preferences, which are used for selection and for the identification of your development areas.

  • Duration: Approximately 3 hours.
  • Preparation: No preparation is required. However, you are encouraged to perform a practice test to familiarise yourself with the test format. See shl.com/shldirect/en-us/practice-tests/
  • About the test: The SHL test is done online. (Random verification might be requested.) You will be provided with a link to the SHL test once you have paid your PGDip BMA application fee and SHL selection test fee, and after you have submitted your application form and have received your provisional student number. (You need to use this provisional student number when writing the SHL.)
  • Cost: For fees, please see usb.ac.za/phdfutures (click on Fees tab). See bank details under How to apply and use your provisional student number as reference. The application fee and SHL selection test fee can be paid online.
  • Link to the SHL selection test: You do not have to arrange with USB to write the SHL test. You will receive a link to the test once the relevant payments have been received and you have submitted your application form. USB will receive your results directly from SHL and will upload it to your application form on your behalf.
  • Additional information: shl.com/en/assessments/cognitive-ability/
  • Important: The SHL selection test is valid for 18 months. If your SHL selection test results are older than this, you should ideally rewrite the test as people grow and develop and assessments need to take this into account. USB does not consider SHL tests from other institutions as you may have written a different type or level of test, or you may have been compared to a different comparison group. If you have completed the SHL with USB during the past 18 months, you do not have to rewrite the test.
PROGRAMME HEAD
Professor André Roux

Professor André Roux is the programme head of USB’s Futures Studies programmes. His areas of expertise are Management Economics and Futures Studies. He holds a PhD from Stellenbosch University. He lectures on Economics and Futures Thinking at USB, in other African countries and in Europe. In 2016 and 2017, he won the Best Lecturer Award in Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

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  • Who should enrol?
  • What will you gain?

This PhD is aimed at professional futurists, decision makers and strategic planners who would like to distinguish themselves through in-depth research aimed at helping people to bring about a more desirable future – a future that supports the growth agendas of South Africa and Africa.

This will prepare you for senior-level positions in government, public and private corporations, policy-making institutions, financial institutions, and sub-regional, regional and international organisations. It could also enable candidates to become lecturers at academic institutions.

  1. Expertise in strategic foresight and long-range decision-making: This expertise – typically in fields such as the new world of business, social capital, security, sustainability, technology and innovation, and decision-making – will enable you to work in government, public and private corporations, financial institutions, and academic institutions.
  2. The ability to help contain risks and sense opportunities: The input of futurists in organisations can lead to better decision-making and better outcomes because their knowledge of how different futures can play out helps to mitigate risks and to leverage opportunities. This can be translated into a significant competitive advantage.
  3. The ability to deal with rapid and complex changes: The ability to make strategic long-term decisions will help you to deal with rapid and complex changes both locally and internationally. It will also equip you with techniques and methods to react meaningfully to the growing complexity in the organisational environment and world affairs, especially from an African perspective.
  4. Authority as a futurist: The depth brought about by doctoral studies will strengthen your authority as a professional futurist. It will also strengthen your consultation and facilitation capabilities, as well as your stakeholder analysis, environmental scanning, systems simulation and strategic planning skills.

Testimonials from our alumni

‘The PhD study enhanced my career as analyst and consultant tremendously. Previously, I tended to have a narrow approach as an analyst of global geo-strategic dynamics. The PhD (Futures Studies) changed all that and ingrained a holistic approach based on open-mindedness to see things more clearly from multiple perspectives.’

Jan Naude, Futurist, Institute for Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch,

‘The road of exploring the philosophy and methodologies of Futures Studies was indeed bumpy but also extremely rewarding. Although many academic disciplines do pursue elements of forward-looking perspectives, only Future Studies provides a multi-, trans- and inter-disciplinary approach.’

Rianne van Vuuren , Advisor at Aquilo Forecasting ,

FAQs

A PhD in Futures Studies will enable you to become a specialist in the field of strategic foresight. This expertise – typically in fields such as the new world of business, social capital, security, sustainability, technology and innovation, and decision-making – will enable you to work in government, policy-making institutions, public and private corporations, financial institutions, and academic institutions.

The input of futurists in organisations can lead to better decision-making and better outcomes because their knowledge of how different futures can play out helps to mitigate risks and to leverage opportunities. The ability to make strategic long-term decisions will help to deal with rapid and complex changes, locally and internationally. This can be translated into a significant competitive advantage.

Lastly, the depth brought about by doctoral studies will strengthen your authority as a professional futurist. It will enhance your stakeholder analysis, environmental scanning, systems simulation and strategic planning skills. It will also benefit you in consultation and facilitation roles.

A minimum registration period of two years is required.

Academic assistance is offered via a web-based learning environment, various software and database resources, small-group teams (dedicated study groups), and informal learning groups.

It is unfortunately so that many students embark on a PhD but never complete their studies. One way to help prevent this, is to attend a doctoral training programme and/or doctoral school to prepare themselves for doctoral studies.

This includes the 5-day Doctoral Research Training Programme at USB, and the doctoral schools presented by Stellenbosch University’s African Doctoral Academy.

This will provide you with an understanding of the research process, and help you to narrow down and clearly formulate your research problem and research questions. In the long run, it will save you time and provide a structured approach to your research.

Stellenbosch University’s library services can also help with books on how to prepare for doctoral studies and how to write a proposal.

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