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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

On this page, prospective students are able to find answers to general questions relating to the programme.

Course Coordinator

Please contact the Course Coordinator if you have any other queries:

  • Mr Eric Lwanga
    Tel: +27 (12) 420 5214
    Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743
    E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A. Application and selection process

1. Who can apply?
Applications are welcome particularly from students in Africa. Citizens of African countries are the main target group for this programme. Special consideration will also be given to African students who can fund their studies. Applicants from Africa therefore qualify for sponsorship consideration if selected for the programme. Applications are also welcome from other parts of the world and a few students have been admitted from the United States of America, Spain and Finland. However, applicants who are not citizens of an African countries do not qualify for financial sponsorship and must cover all expenses to attend the programme. 

2. Can I receive application materials through the post?
There are no brochures or application paraphernalia which are sent by post. All information about the programme is available on the website of the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) - www.chr.up.ac.za

3. Are there forms to be completed and is there an application fee?
No forms are to be completed during the application process, only successful candidates are required to complete forms and this happens after they arrive in Pretoria to start the course. There is no application fee.

4. In the selection process is preferential treatment given to female candidates and other minorities?
The programme pays attention to issues of gender balance, the inclusion of LGBTI persons and persons from indigenous and minority groups. In doing so, the issue of non-discrimination is taken very seriously so that other candidates are not unfairly or unjustly treated. The overriding criterion in the selection process remains academic excellence, the need to select candidates who are able to complete the programme successfully and work in the field of human rights and democratisation.

5. How many students are admitted to the programme?
A maximum of 25 sponsored students are admitted to the programme every year. Five additional students may be admitted if they are self-sponsored. The total number cannot exceed 30 students for pedagogical reasons. Also there are limitations in terms of numbers that can be accommodated in the classrooms and the residences.

6. Is there a maximum number of students who are admitted from each country?
The aim of the programme is to admit as many nationalities to the programme as possible. Attempts are made to ensure that 25 countries are represented but this is not always possible. In instances where a country has very good applications and other countries did not apply, then generally not more than 3-4 individuals from any one country are admitted.

7. How does one apply for funding and is one assured of a scholarship?
When you submit your application you should motivate why you should be considered for financial assistance.
The 30 selected students have in the past been assured of full scholarships. However, the programme is donor-funded and the situation could change if the required amount of money is not raised.
Non-African students, i.e. students who are not citizens of African countries, do not qualify for scholarships. This is on the basis of conditions laid down by the funding institutions.

8. Can I send my documents by fax or email?
All documents must be sent by post or courier e.g. DHL. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the application documents arrive at the CHR’s offices. In view of the fact that certain documents e.g. transcripts or certificates must be certified, sending them by fax or email nullifies the certification. No document should be sent by fax or email.

9. My university does not give transcripts to former students yet I am required to submit all my documentation together, what should I do?
Submit whatever information you have and make sure that you enclose a letter explaining the fact that your former or current university cannot allow you access to your transcript. You should however make arrangements for your university to send your transcript directly to the CHR. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the transcript has reached the CHR. The CHR cannot assist applicants to retrieve their transcripts or other official documents.

10. Is it only academics who should write my recommendations?
The applicant is free to get references from anyone who can vouch for the applicant’s suitability for the programme. Ideally one of the referees should be an academic but if not possible it will not prejudice an applicant who does not submit a reference from an academic.

11. Is the selection process very strict on the length of documentation submitted in the application, e.g. letters of motivation and curriculum vitae (CV)?
In view of the large number of applications received and in order to ensure equality of arms when assessing applications, the length of documents submitted is taken seriously. Unless the documents are official and therefore the applicant has no control on their length, or unless it is a letter of recommendation, applicants must respect the limitation on length which has been stipulated in the application process.

12. After submission of my application when should I expect feedback?
After the closing date of the application, it takes approximately two months before the selection process is complete and candidates are informed. Unsuccessful candidates are also notified.

13. How many stages do applications go through during the selection process?
Applications go through four (4) stages of selections. All applications are considered at the same time. There is no provision for rolling admissions. Short-listed candidates are required to write an essay which is assessed and forms part of the selection process.

14. Can I apply for admission to the programme if I never studied law?
Only holders of a law degree that would enable them to pursue a legal profession in their country or country where they completed their studies are admitted to the programme. In extremely exceptionalinstances non-law graduates who have extensive human rights experience will be considered.

15. Will I be admitted if I did not undertake my undergraduate studies in English?
Yes, you can be admitted. You will however be required to prove that you are competent in the English language. This can be proved through submission of International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test results. This is a requirement for admission at the University of Pretoria.

16. How are applications for admission assessed?
In assessing applications a number of criteria are taken into consideration. These include academic performance, human rights experience or interest, writing skills and ability to cope with the intense nature of the programme.

17. Does the programme admit only students from Africa?
Students from other parts of the world are welcome to apply and can be admitted to the programme. However, such students do not qualify for sponsorship by the CHR.

B. Nature of academic programme and opportunities upon completion

1. The programme is advertised as “intensive”, what does “intensive” mean?
The programme is extremely intensive. It is perhaps one of the most demanding Masters degree programmes in the world. Students spend eight (8) hours in class every working day of the week. They have to write numerous assignments and are assigned to clinical groups. They are trained in debating techniques, presentation techniques and research methodologies. They write exams at the end of the first and second semesters. Some of the exams are 24 hour-take-home-exams which require candidates to submit typewritten work with proper citation of authorities. The work must be of publishable quality. Only persons who are able to dedicate the entire year to the programme should apply. Individuals who are working or who are engaged in other activities that will result in divided attention cannot be admitted to the programme as chances of successfully completing the programme will be greatly reduced. The programme requires full dedication during the year in order for a candidate to succeed.

2. Who are the lecturers on the programme?
Lecturers are experts in the fields of human rights and democratisation. They are drawn from different parts of the world and usually teach on the programme for a few days. Lecturers from partner universities are also involved in teaching on the programme.

3. During the programme how are assignments, tests and examinations assessed?
Please check the student guide which gives a comprehensive explanation of how this is done.

4. What happens if I fail a course/s during the first semester, can I proceed to the second semester or repeat the course in the following year?
If a student fails during the first semester s/he is immediately discontinued from the programme. There are no arrangements for a student to repeat the course.

5. What career opportunities exist upon completion of the programme and what is the level of employment of past students?
Career opportunities include working with national, regional and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), working with governments, working as legal practitioners, teaching at academic institutions and working as consultants. The rate of employment among former students is currently at over 98%.

C. Costs of programme, sponsored and self-sponsored students

1. How much does it cost to attend the Masters programme if I am self-sponsored?

The cost to attend the programme is estimated at US$15 000. This amount covers the following:
(a) Tuition at the University of Pretoria and the partner university where the student spends his/her second semester.
(b) Monthly stipend of R1650 and during the second semester US$350.
(c) Accommodation as provided to students on the programme.
(d) Medical aid with a University approved company.
(e) Prescribed text books.
(f) Travel and related expenses during the programme, e.g. study visits and travel to and from the partner university.
(g) Photocopying of study materials as identified by lecturers.

2. Those students who are sponsored by the CHR, what do their scholarships cover?

Among others the scholarships cover the following:
(a) Tuition at the University of Pretoria and the partner university where the student spends his/her second semester.
(b) Monthly stipend of R1650 and during the second semester US$350.
(c) Accommodation as provided to students on the programme.
(d) Medical aid with a University approved company.
(e) Prescribed text books.
(f) Travel and related expenses during the programme, e.g. study visits and travel to and from the partner university.
(g) Photocopying of study materials as identified by lecturers.

D. Accommodation facilities and family assistance

1. What type of accommodation is available during the first semester in Pretoria?
Students live in University of Pretoria residences. Depending on what the University allocates these could either be flat in which case 3 students (each with their own bedroom) share an apartment. Same sex share an apartment. They share common amenities such as the kitchen, bathroom, toilet and a living area. Alternatively the University allocates the programme houses which are commonly known as communes. These are houses where everyone has their own room. The communes are reserved for the Masters programme. Students share bathrooms and toilets, the kitchen and have a common living area. Male students live in separate communes from female students. All the communes are within walking distance of each other and therefore students can easily interact. All students have access to washing machines. Both the apartment and communes are cleaned at regular intervals by cleaners who are employed by the University of Pretoria. Students are responsible for cleaning their own rooms, making their beds and ensuring that the rooms are kept neat. Each student is provided with a bed, mattress, reading table, blankets and bed sheets. Each apartment of commune is equipped with a stove and cooking utensils which are supplied by the University. Each apartment or commune has access to a computer with a printer. In terms of distance from the residences to the main campus, it takes less than 10 minutes to walk from apartment or communes to the main campus of the University of Pretoria.

2. What type of accommodation is available during the second semester?
The accommodation at the partner universities differs:
(a) Addis Ababa University – students live in a house where each has a room and they share facilities.
(b) Eduardo Mondlane – students live in apartments where each has a room and they share common facilities.
(c) University of Mauritius – students live in shared accommodation, usually an apartment.
(d) Makerere University – students live in shared accommodation. The femal students live at the Human Rights and Peace Centre’s guest house while male students live in apartments.
(e) University of the Western Cape – students live in university residences.
(f) University of Ghana – students live in the International Hostels on campus.
(g) Catholic University of Central Africa – students live in university residences on the main campus.

3. I have a family, can I move with them to Pretoria and if so can I be assisted in re-locating them?
Unfortunately the facilities at the University of Pretoria and the partner universities cannot accommodate anyone else besides the Masters candidate. Neither the CHR nor the partner universities can assist or make any undertakings concerning anyone else besides the Masters candidate.

E. Medical aid, state of health

1. What company provides medical aid?
While at the University of Pretoria medical aid is taken out for each student with a company called Ingwe Momentum. This is a requirement of both the University of Pretoria and the South African Ministry of Home Affairs. During the second semester those students who go to the University of the Western Cape will remain on Ingwe Momentum medical aid. Students who go to other partner universities are placed on medical aid schemes in the countries where they will be based. In instances where host countries do not have well organised medical aid schemes students will have access to the medical facilities which are used by students and staff at the host institution. However, much effort is made to ensure that every student is on some medical aid or scheme during the programme.

2. What does the medical aid cover?
The medical aid during the first semester is meant to cover emergencies only. In the event of hospitalisation the student would be admitted to a private hospital. In terms of other cover it covers urgent dental attention but cosmetic dentistry or expensive procedures eg root canal treatment are excluded. Pre-existing conditions (ie conditions which a person comes with when enrolled to the programme) are also excluded from coverage. The medical aid covers accidents and visits to the general practitioner for ordinary ailments that might afflict a student during the course of the year.

3. Can I attend the programme if I will need constant medical attention?
The programme is extremely intensive and is not suitable for anyone who would need constant medical attention. Students are required to work for long hours. They are also required to travel during the course of the programme and the medical aid cover is limited. If you need constant medical attention and if you will be hospitalised from time to time, this programme would be highly unsuitable and it might not be possible to complete the programme successfully.

4. Are there facilities to accommodate students with physical disabilities?
The programme welcomes persons with disabilities and would be able to accommodate a student/s with disabilities. Access to most facilities will be possible.

Should you be admitted and you have a disability you should notify the CHR as soon as possible so that necessary arrangements are put in place to cater for you specific needs. The partner institution where the student would spend the second semester would also need to be informed to ensure that adequate preparations are made in this regard.

F. Second semester selection process

1. Can a student return to a country near his/her country during the second semester?
Students cannot be posted to countries in the region where they come from. The idea of the programme is to expose students to new experiences and new environments.

2. Who decides where I spend the second semester?
All students on the programme are asked to select and motivate the institution where they would like to spend the second semester. The CHR and partner universities make the final decision on where students will spend the second semester. In view of the fact that certain institutions can only host a limited number of students, there will be instances when a student cannot get their first, second or third choice. The decision of the CHR in placing students at the institutions where they spend the second semester is final and binding.

3. Is there an indication of how many students are placed with the different partner institutions for the second semester?

In 2015 the placements were as set out below. Please note that these are not binding for future years:

 UniversityApproximate number of students to attend this university
Université d’Abomey Calavi (Benin)0
University of Alexandria (Egypt)0
Åbo Akademi (Finland)0*
Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia)3
Catholic University of Central Africa (Cameroon)0
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique)4
Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis (Senegal)2
University of Ghana (Ghana)2
University of Lagos (Nigeria)2
Makerere University (Uganda)4
University of Mauritius (Mauritius)3
University of Nairobi (Kenya)2
University of Venda (South Africa)3
University of the Western Cape (South Africa)4

*Åbo Akademi participates under an a special exchange programme and does not receive students every year.

4. During the course can I travel to attend short courses in other countries?
Due to the intense nature of the course, students are required to dedicate themselves fully to the Masters programme. Students are not expected to travel unless such travel is related to the programme or undertaken during holidays.

5. What is the procedure of deciding where students go for the field trips?
Students are asked to motivate their choices for study visit destinations. The CHR takes the final decision while taking into consideration criteria such as their motivations, gender balance, maximum number of students that can be sent to each destination (in view of costs).

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