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Prospective postgraduate students

The ERC is South Africa’s foremost energy research institution working at the intersection of energy and the environment. We are a multi-disciplinary centre that draws from skills sets as diverse as engineering, economics, history, statistics, political studies, and physics. 


Masters Study at ERC

Thank you for your interest in the Masters degree programmes at the Energy Research Centre (ERC).

Unfortunately, the revised coursework programmes will not commence from 2019. We will inform all applicants on whether the programmes will go ahead in the future, as well as keeping the website updated.

ERC offers four degree programmes at Masters Level (NQF Level 9) for prospective students to pursue:



Coursework Credits

Dissertation Credits

I:       MSc(Eng) specialising in Sustainable Energy Engineering

          Masters by Coursework & Dissertation



II:     MPhil specialising in Energy & Development Studies

          Masters by Coursework & Dissertation



III:    MSc(Eng) specialising in Energy Studies

          Masters by Dissertation Only



IV:    MPhil specialising in Energy Studies

          Masters by Dissertation Only





Students can pursue either of the MSc(Eng) and MPhil qualifications by coursework and dissertation or by dissertation only. Students must however note that the award of qualification upon completion of their studies will be determined by the content of their dissertation, and will not depend solely on their coursework. Students should consult the UCT Engineering & Built Environment Faculty Handbook for Postgraduate students (available at for full details of the programmes available to them, and to confirm their coursework choices are possible under the degree they are registered for. Students must also ensure, in consultation with their supervisor, that the content of their dissertation is appropriate for the degree for which they are registered.


Masters by Coursework and Dissertation

The MSc(Eng) and MPhil coursework and dissertation programmes (I and II in the table above) have undergone a period of revision in 2017 and 2018. As part of the revision process, the programmes were reduced from 200 HEQF credits to 180 HEQF credits (60 credits of coursework and 120 credits dissertation), in line with the norms of UCT’s Mechanical Engineering Department (


The revised structure of the coursework and dissertation programmes are expected to be as follows:





A: MSc(Eng) specialising in Sustainable Energy Engineering

B: MPhil specialising in Energy & Development Studies

First Year

1st Course


MEC5099Z: Fundamentals of Energy Systems and Policy for Development

2nd Course


MEC5100Z: Energy Systems Analysis

MEC5101Z: Energy and Climate Policy for Sustainable Development

Second Year



MSc(Eng) Dissertation

MPhil Dissertation


All coursework and dissertation students take the 1st Course (MEC5099Z), in which they develop an understanding and demonstrate application of fundamental concepts of the multi-disciplinary energy field. Students then separate into the MEC5100Z or MEC5101Z streams, for more advanced programme-specific learning in the 2nd Course:


  • MSc(Eng) students take MEC5100Z, which is a practical introduction to techno-economic modelling and analyses of existing energy systems and future energy planning
  • MPhil students take MEC5101Z, in which social science and economic concepts and methods will be applied to analyse energy and climate problems.


The 1st Course is expected to run during UCT’s first semester (February to May), while the 2nd Courses will align with the start of UCT’s second semester (July – October). Students will begin planning for their research dissertation during the 2nd Course, which will entail identifying a research topic and a supervisor and developing the concept for their thesis. Students will be expected to present a thesis proposal to their peers and ERC staff at the end of their first year (usually in November, dates TBC), after which they will write the dissertation in their second year.


Masters by Dissertation Only

Prospective students with relevant expertise may also consider a Research Masters (i.e. by dissertation only – options III or IV above). If you are interested in pursuing a Research Masters, please consult the list of potential supervisors and their research areas. The process for application remains the same as that outlined for the Coursework programmes (see link on the left panel). Please consult the EBE Faculty Website for further information and to make a formal online application:


Doctoral Studies at ERC

The supervision capacity for doctoral students at the ERC is limited, which is why we have to assess applications on a case to case basis. 


On this website you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questionsdates and procedures for applying and fees and funding. You can also read about some of our alumni.