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Applied Marine Science Masters Degree



The course-work M.Sc. is a programme in marine studies, designed from a southern African perspective, and drawing heavily on southern African examples. The course starts in mid-late January each year, administered through the Biological Sciences Dept. and convened by the Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re). The aim of the course is to provide students with the appropriate tools to tackle the many problems associated with wise utilisation and management of marine living and non-living resources and ecosystems and issues around climate change. This is achieved by exposing the students to a range of disciplines, to provide them with the requisite skills to carry out research and to use the products of research. The course also reinforces essential skills such as scientific communication, numeracy and analytical thinking, and demonstrates the ability to perform independent research through the project component.

The course lasts for just over one year, and consists of a series of course-work modules (January-August) and an independent research project (August-February). The course-work modules address topics such as: ocean circulation, marine ecology, living marine resource management, population dynamics, biological modelling (including fisheries), biostatistics, climate monitoring and change, project management, aquaculture, marine conservation, oceanographic techniques and tools, marine environmental law and decision analysis. The research project provides an opportunity for the students to integrate some of these skills while carrying out independent research. In the case of students seconded from existing positions, the research project can be conducted in the country of origin. Longer projects may also be considered for home-based researchers.

Applicants must have at least an Honours or an equivalent four-year degree. The University of Cape Town has recently decided to follow NARIC guidelines on equivalency of international degrees (see Prospective students should check whether their existing degree qualifies for entry. Additional experience, especially in the marine arena, is advantageous. We select practising marine researchers and managers who need to catch up with the many recent developments in marine studies as well as recent graduates. The resultant mix of youthful enthusiasm and mature, field-based experience makes for a balanced treatment of theoretical and practical concerns.

English Language Proficiency
The medium of instruction and examination at UCT is English. We require that students have a certain level of proficiency in English before they register. Applicants for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes must have attained one of the following levels of proficiency in English:

  • For South African applicants a pass in an examination equivalent to English (E-symbol) at the Higher Grade (First or Second Language) at the South African senior certificate level. The English requirement in Humanities is a D-symbol (HG).
  • A pass in English Language at A-level, O-level, Baccalaureate or equivalent level;
  • For international applicants for whom English is a foreign language: a pass in the TOEFL test (the Test of English as a Foreign Language - website: with a score of at least 570 on the paper-based TOEFL, or 230 on the computer-based TOEFL test; or an overall band score of 7.0 (with no individual element of the test scoring below 6.0) on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS);
  • Requirements for applicants who are permanent residents in South Africa and for whom English is a second language: either
  • a pass (60% or more) in the Placement Test in English for Educational Purposes (PTEEP) which is conducted by the University, and normally offered in July and October;
  • or a pass in the TOEFL test with a score of at least 570; or an overall band score of 7.0 (with no individual element of the test scoring below 6.0) on the IELTS.


Costs for the course in 2017 are not yet available, but to give you an idea as to what you will be looking at, the costs for 2016 are listed below and you can add on an increase of approximately 10% pa:

Costs of the programme: the fees are R45 480.00 with an additional R33 550.00 for international students. Students from outside Cape Town can expect to pay about
R30 000.00 per annum for accommodation; R32 000 per annum for subsistence and international students may have to pay up to R3 300 for visas. There is also a levy of R3275 for all international students (this might increase in 2017)

You can contact the Postgraduate Scholarships Office direct at to find out about scholarships.

Residence Accommodation can be contacted here: and the website for Off Campus Accommodation & Letting Office is

We suggest that all foreign students contact the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) as they will be able to advise on all the necessary documentation required to study in South Africa and any other related queries. Their web address is

The UCT application is an ONLINE APPLICATION:  You MUST complete this online and you will be contacted via email with an application number, please quote this number in all your correspondence – we DO NOT require a copy of the online application. ONLINE applications open in April/May of 2016 for 2017 on the UCT website. 

The MA-RE ONLINE Application form (which is a different form from the UCT application form) can be found on the MA-RE website, this form must be filled out and submitted with your application. Although completed applications will be processed on receipt, selection of applicants will only take place in September and it will only be in late September or October when applicants will be advised as to whether they have been successful or not.

The course starts in January each year and lasts for approximately 15 months (6-7 months coursework, 5-6 months project). Applications close on 31 August each year for foreign students and 30 September for South African students, but applicants from outside South Africa are encouraged to apply by June to allow them to have more time to secure funding and study visas (the latter can take up to 2 months to be issued).



It is important that all the following documents and information are submitted with your application. Please note that FULL applications must reach the MA-RE Institute by 31 August (for foreign students) or 30 September (for South African students) to be considered for the following year.

1. Letter of application and motivation outlining why you chose to apply for a place on the MSc-Course, what your long-term career aspirations are, and how you think the successful completion of the MSc-Course will benefit those aspirations.

2.  Completed MA-RE ONLINE Application Form

3. Please upload a Full Curriculum Vitae giving permanent address, email address (if available), telephone/ fax numbers, date of birth, full names, nationality, educational history up to present date, employment history (if any) up to present date, details of computer systems and software packages used to date, details of research publications up to present date.

4. Please upload your undergraduate academic transcript showing marks for each course taken in each year. Certified copies of transcripts of any subsequent postgraduate qualifications should also be included here.

5. Please upload a certified copy of the original degree certificate (and any subsequent qualifications mentioned above).

6. Please upload a certified copy of the original TOEFL or PTEEP certificate or other English qualification as mentioned above.

7. You will need to apply directly online to the UCT Admissions department and will be provided with an application number, please quote this on all correspondences.  

9.  An application fee of R100 for students from South Africa and SADC countries and R300 for all other students. (This fee might be increased when UCT finalises the fee structure for 2015.)

  • Application fees should be paid by cheque, postal order or bank draft made out to the University of Cape Town.
  • No application fee should be paid directly into a bank account of the university, and application fees can only be paid in cash if you are doing so in person. Do not send cash by post or courier.
  • Application fees should be paid in South African Rands.


NOTE: UCT Admissions Office will NOT start the application process until they have all the required documentation and you have applied ONLINE so please submit everything listed above. Although completed applications will be processed on receipt, selection of applicants will only take place in September and it will only be in late September or October when applicants will be advised as to whether they have been successful or not.