Doctoral studies in peacebuilding 2017


Durban University of Technology offers Doctoral degrees in peacebuilding by research only. From both practical and theoretical perspectives, we examine how conflicts can best be prevented from becoming violent and how individuals, communities and societies can best recover from violence. Our emphasis is on how to transform the conflicts which underlie violence by working to improve the relationships between the parties involved.

The degrees are offered by distance but students are required to spend one month as full-time, on-campus students in the first year (in 2017, from 9am on Monday 30th January to 5 pm on Friday 26th February), plus one week in their second year (probably in the third week of January). Students are more than welcome to stay longer if they are able.

During their time on campus , students will attend seminars and submit papers on research methods, the thesis writing process, key concepts in peacebuilding and applied peacebuilding skills. This provides them with a foundation to begin their research proposals. Upon returning home, students will complete more assignments and the final research proposal which will be due in July.

The normal length of time for completion is three years for a full-time doctoral student (i.e. around 48 weeks a year for 40 hours a week); part-time students will take much longer.

Applications must be received by Friday, 26 August 2016. Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application by email in the week commencing Monday, 5 September 2016.

We are currently not accepting Master’s students (see Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] 2).


Entry requirements

A successful applicant will normally meet all of the following requirements:

  • A Master’s degree with a research component, normally at an upper second class level (70%+) or above.
  • Strong written and spoken English.
  • Good access to email and the web.
  • Relevant life experience beyond studying at university.
  • A commitment to attend the university full-time for one month at the start of their studies, and a week at the start of their second year, as described above.
  • A commitment to devote a minimum of 12-15 hours per week to thesis work, on average, following the on-campus period. Where students are employed, support for this commitment will need to be negotiated with their employer.



Thesis topics

Students are encouraged to work on action research topics which directly build peace among individuals and communities. Action research provides both academic rigour in research and the ability to test theory in practice. Some examples illustrate this emphasis:

  • Topics in restorative justice e.g. planning and implementing a victim: offender mediation service or family conferences for prisoners and their families or support services for the families of prisoners;
  • Prevention of gender-based violence;
  • Planning and implementing programmes to build more peaceful schools;
  • Planning and implementing a nonviolent campaign;
  • Planning and implementing a programme to build peace within an organization e.g. a church denomination, an educational institution, between long term opponents e.g. political parties or between ethnic or religious groups;
  • Planning and implementing a programme to help individuals heal from trauma e.g. as a result of community violence.

A list of completed PhD theses is provided below.


Currently, DUT offers free tuition for Doctoral students (for the first three years). It also supports the costs of data collection and for the preparation of the final version of the thesis for submission. There is a student administration levy of R1,650 per annum [in 2016].

Students need to meet any visa fees and the cost of travelling to and from Durban for the on-campus sessions – one in 2017 and one in 2018 – plus accommodation food costs while they are here.

Applications for 2017

Please submit a completed PG1 form, a CV, certificates and transcripts, a 2-page short essay on your motives for studying with us, your proposed topic, your future plans and an explanation of the time you will have available for study.

Further information

Professor Geoff Harris, International Centre for Nonviolence, Durban University of Technology, Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa.  Telephone 2731 373 5609 (international) or within South Africa 031 373 5609

Dr Sylvia Kaye, Department of Public Management & Economics, Durban University of Technology, Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa.  Telephone 2731 373 6860 (international) or within South Africa 031 373 6860


Completed PhD theses, as at mid-2016

Jean de Dieu Basabose (Rwanda), Anti-corruption education as a way of building positive peace in Rwanda.

Oseremen Irene (Nigeria), Institutionalising peace in Nigeria: a participatory action research project.

Dumisani Ngwenya (Zimbabwe), Healing the wounds of Gukarahundi: a participatory action research project.

Olusegun Adebayo (Nigeria), Building capacity for conflict-sensitive media reportage of elections in Nigeria.

Diaku Dianzenza (DRC/South Africa), Training young men in responsible, loving and nonviolent parenting.

Mediel Hove (Zimbabwe), Nonviolent campaigns in Zimbabwe, 1995-2013: strategies, methods and effectivenes.

Jean Chrysostome Kyala Kimbuku (DRC/South Africa), Preventing children’s participation in armed conflict in North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Ntombezakhe Moyo (Zimbabwe), Peacebuilding among prisoners and their families: enhancing the impact of the Second Chance Rehabilitation Centre, Bulawayo.

Cyprian Muchemwa (Zimbabwe), Building friendship between Shona and Ndebele in Zimbabwe.

Kudakwashe Shonhiwa (Zimbabwe), Facilitating the reconciliation of divided communities in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe.

Bosco Binenwa (Rwanda), Reintegrating ex-combatants: an action research project in a Rwandan agricultural cooperative.


Thesis topics, 2016 student cohort


Olubunmi Akande (Nigeria). Participatory media for diologue and collective action in post-conflict communities in North-Central Nigeria.

Donwell Dube (Zimbabwe), Reducing spectator violence in Zimbabwe’s Premier Soccer League through social prevention methods.

Isioma Kemakolam (Nigeria). Comparative study of indigenous crime and violence prevention mechanisms in Kenya and Nigeria.

Noel Kansiime (Uganda), Enhancing capacities for local peacebuilding on Bunyoro sub-region, Western Uganda.

Theodore Mbazumutima (Burundi). Building viable community peace alliances for land rsititution in Burundi.

Makwanise Ndakaitei (Zimbabwe). Combating school-related gender based violence in Bulawayo’s Mopopoma area.

Shanyisa Milimu (Uganda). Peacebuilding skills: a tool for mitigating gender-based violence for university female peer counsellors.

Hillary Musarurwa (Zimbabwe). Exploring social entrepreneurship as a youth peacebuilding tool to mitigate structural violence: action research in Zimbabwe.

Babatunde Oyinloe (Nigeria), Managing youth involvement in electoral  violence in Nigeria: an action research project in Ekiti State.

Maritim Rirei (Kenya). Preventing electoral violence through constructive use of mobile phones in Kenya.

Tinashe Rukuni (Zimbabwe). Transforming post-conflict relationships via peace gardens in Masvingo, Zimbabwe.

Melody Siangombe (Zimbabwe), Building youth capacity and involvement in local conflict resolution: an action research project in Isipingo, South Africa.

Washington Tsokota (Zimbabwe), Engaging nonviolent men in tackling violence against women: an action research project in Harare


Farai Chirimumimba (Zimbabwe). Improving relationships between commercial sex workers and the general public: an action research project.

Chibuzor Madu (Nigeria), Occurrence of Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci in two Durban wastewater treatment plants for effluent reuse.

Nokuthula Magudulela (South Africa), Tackling gender violence on a South African university campus: an action research project.

Takudzwa Makoni (Zimbabwe), Critical analysis of media reportage of the Constitutional Court ruling against President Zuma and the potential impact on positive peace.

Noxolo Memela (South Africa). Rehabilitating whoonga drug addict: the role of the Claremont community in Durban.

Priscilla Musariwa (Zimbabwe), Reducing conflict and violence in schools: an action research project at Chinhoyi High School, Zimbabwe.

Relebohile Ramakatsa (Lesotho). Teenage Pregnancy in KwaZulu-Natal High Schools: an action research project.

Nomvula Sikakane (South Africa), Understanding and reducing intimate partner violence by young Zulu men in Oakford-Verulam.


Frequently asked questions

  1. When should I apply in order to commence in 2017?

As soon as possible and not later than Friday, August 26, 2016. You will be emailed the result of your application in the week commencing Monday, September 5, 2016.

  1. Is it possible for me to do a Master’s degree in Peacebuilding at DUT?

Currently no, but we are hoping to begin a new Master’s programme, using a mixture of time on campus and distance study, in mid-2017. We can provide a list of other South African universities which offer Master’s degrees in peace studies.

  1. Is attendance at the university compulsory for the required one month class in 2017 and two weeks in 2018?

Absolutely. We realise that attendance may involve sacrifice. However, it will be a fantastic learning experience and our experience tells us that without such an investment, your chances of completing a Doctorate are low.

If you are employed, you will have to arrange leave. After the first semester, you will have to find 12-15 hours a week to spend on your research and attend the two-week compulsory class the following year.

  1. Are there scholarships and financial assistance?

DUT currently offers free tuition fees for first three years of the PhD, but see the note on possible tuition fees under Costs above. There is also assistance for the fieldwork and other research costs (up to R15 000); receipts for such costs must be provided.

As noted, for non-South Africans, there are travel, accommodation, medical aid (if over three months in South Africa) and costs associated with the visa process. All students pay the student administration levy of R1,650 per annum. If you are employed and are therefore a part-time student, or are on leave with pay, it is assumed you are able to finance these costs from your income, savings or support from your employer.

It is very unlikely that DUT will offer scholarships in 2017. There are some alternatives but these only apply to genuinely full-time students.

  • South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) offers various postgraduate scholarships for South African citizens and permanent residents, with a small number for those from elsewhere. For further information, see and click on Funding. The basic scholarship is the NRF Free Standing Master’s and Doctoral Programme.

For South Africans holding a university post, the NRF administers DAAD in-country scholarships (same website).

  • The Canon Collins Educational Trust in the UK offers scholarships for study in South Africa to citizens and those with refugee status in the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For further information, see
  • Next Generation of Social Scientists in Africa, focusing on peace, security and development. Aimed at early career academics in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Three types of support are offered: proposal development, dissertation research and dissertation completion. For further information, see

NB You are expected to be completely honest and transparent when applying for any financial assistance. The basic rule is not more than one scholarship per person; if you get two, you must say no to one. If, following your full-time semester on campus, you return to employment of more than 10 hours per week, you must relinquish the scholarship. This will allow other full-time students who are not working to receive a scholarship.

  1. What does it mean to be a full-time as opposed to a part-time student?

To register as a full-time student means that you are able to devote 40 hours per week (five full days) to study. Part-time students are expected to devote a minimum of 12-15 hours per week.

  1. Does the university provide accommodation during my on-campus period?

No, but we will advise you about where you can stay (at your expense).

  1. How quickly can I finish the degree?

The normal minimum time for completion of a Doctoral degree it is three years. If you are studying part-time, it will take five years. Good research takes time. It cannot be hurried.

  1. Why are the research topics restrictive?

The main reason is that we want students to do research which builds peace now. Put a little differently, we want students to do much more than sit in front of a computer writing a long report which will be read by a handful of people. We want them to be out where there is conflict and violence, listening to the people involved and working with them to build peace.

  1. Will a non-South African degree qualify me for entry to a PhD?

Probably yes. We will make a judgement concerning your previous degree(s) and you do not need to apply for a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) evaluation.

  1. What if I am still completing my current degree and will not have the degree certificate and transcripts until much later than the cut-off date for applications?

DUT will not accept you without proof of completed qualifications so you will probably have to defer your studies for a year.

  1. When I go back home, what support will I get?

We will be in touch with you regularly by email.  Depending on the technology available in your country, we may be able to arrange for skype and webinars.

Using the foundation provided by your on-campus time, you will complete assignments and finalize your research proposal. After the proposal has been accepted, you begin your fieldwork. You are encouraged to keep in touch with your supervisor and to send in draft chapters when these are completed. These will be returned timeously with comments.

  1. Do I need web access as well as email?

Yes, definitely.

  1. Can I come back to the university to spend time writing up and consulting with my supervisor?

Yes, you will be welcome.

  1. What are the biggest challenges I am likely to face?

Finding time for your studies is the most common challenge.  You will have to reorganize your life and give up some current activities.

  1. What if I don’t perform at the required standard?

There are regular performance reviews designed to help us make any necessary decisions about your future.

  1. I am a not a South African. When I complete my degree, what is the likelihood that I could get a job in South Africa?

Very, very small. In any case, it is our hope that you will use your studies to build peace in your own country.

  1. How can I find out more about DUT?

See the university website For the Postgraduate Students Handbook, see