PhD Scenario Planning & Systems Thinking

PhD in Futures Studies

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
  • Application fee: The application fee must accompany the application. The application 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.

[/vc_column_inner]
  • 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.

Related programmes

Blended

Perform your duties as a professional fu...

Blended

Understand the forces and trends that sh...


PhD in Business Management and Administration

PhD in Business Management
and Administration

Find solutions to real-world business problems through in-depth research

  • Research
  • Course
  • Fees
  • Structure & Content
  • Learning Philosophy
  • Admission Requirements
Course Overview
Course starts Dependent on application
Application closes Rolling intake

USB’s internationally accredited PhD in Business Management and Administration is aimed at those who want to undertake supervised research to become an expert in their field. This requires a contribution to new knowledge through rigorous research. With USB’s PhD in Business Management, you will help to find solutions to pressing business problems in the real world. USB emphasises the creation of knowledge that is particularly relevant to African organisations.

This degree will stand you in good stead if you want to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field, and if you want to work in industries focused on research and innovation, or at an academic institution.

Multi-year programme

At least 2 years of registration

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 Quote
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 R58 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)

SHL selection test fee

R850

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

USB’s PhD in Business Management and Administration is awarded solely on the successful completion of a research-based dissertation. This dissertation must contribute to and enrich the academic knowledge and understanding of theory and professional practice. The minimum period of registration for the PhD is two years.

The thesis may be written as a single whole, or may be by publication, where a number of articles and/or chapters are presented together with an introduction and conclusion that draws the parts into the whole.

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 dissertation pre-proposal will also help USB to determine whether you have thought through your interest in and commitment to the programme, and whether you are suitable for admission to the USB PhD programme.

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.

The PhD in Business Management and Administration is a combination of scientific rigour and managerial relevance. To develop applicable knowledge underpinned by theory and practice, PhD students need to conduct research on real-world problems, and develop personal and transferable skills which can be used in a range of applied situations. ​USB emphasises the creation of knowledge that is relevant to South African organisations, and from there to beyond our borders. This forms part of our social responsibility to strengthen our country to the benefit of all those involved.

  • Academic requirements: A relevant master’s degree in an appropriate management-related area, with an average of 65%. The major part of the master’s degree (weight within degree) must consist of a written thesis, of which a grade of at least 65% should be obtained.
  • Minimum period of registration: Two years
  • Selection test: SHL test (see below).

Note: International students require a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) evaluation certificate to evaluate their degrees according to South African standards. USB’s International Affairs Office will handle the credential evaluations of international students free of charge. You therefore need to complete the online application, and upload all certificates to your application. The International Office will, as part of the application process, conduct an in-house credential evaluation after you have submitted your application.

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/phdbma (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
Dr Lara Skelly

Dr Lara Skelly’s career at USB began as a research manager in 2015, and the role of the head of USB’s PhD in Business Management and Administration was added in June 2017. She has a special interest in how to increase the impact of research.

Programme Ambassadors

These programme ambassadors are current students and alumni who support prospective students in their new stage of life and share their personal experience about studying at USB.


In our process, we encourage prospective PhD students to provide some original and independent thinking in the pre-proposal. Prior contact with a potential supervisor may make it difficult to distinguish the applicant’s thinking from the supervisor’s guidance.

You can find information about funding on our website. Additionally, please feel free to explore the funding opportunities available via the Stellenbosch University Postgraduate Office (http://www.sun.ac.za/english/research-innovation/Research-Development/postgraduate-funding-support)

  1. Contribution: What makes a PhD different to any other degree is that it must contribute to knowledge. At USB, we understand this contribution to be a theoretical one. (Read more about contribution here, and the definition of theory here). Try and avoid submitting a pre-proposal that reads more like a consulting report focusing on a specific context.
  2. Writing: PhD students should be able to write in alignment with the standard academic conventions, which includes full referencing. Pre-proposals are submitted to a text-matching programme to check for potential text recycling.
  3. Fit with USB’s interests: We strongly prefer projects in the private and non-profit sectors, as opposed to those in the public sector.

As mentioned, we encourage original thinking in the pre-proposal, and sharing such examples will make it difficult to distinguish your thinking from third-party ideas.

Unfortunately our minimum requirements are fixed, and currently we do not offer any supplementary modules that will help you make up the minimum.

The allocation of appropriate supervisors is the responsibility of USB. While we do work with external supervisors regularly, the appointment of an external supervisor is motivated by the internal supervisor, and an existing relationship between supervisors have been found to be most beneficial to the success of the student’s project.

Related programmes

Modular Blended

The MBA stream in Health Care Leadership...

Modular Blended

The Postgraduate Diploma in Business Man...

Modular Blended

The MBA stream in Health Care Leadership...

Modular Blended

The MBA stream in Health Care Leadership...

Modular Blended

USB’s MBA degree has been designed to ...