Pre-Doctoral Programme

The Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) at Rhodes University offers a one-year Pre-Doctoral (‘Pre-Doc’) programme in conjunction with the main PhD programme. Being part of the Pre-Doc programme enables candidates to become immersed within the field of higher education studies without formally registering for the PhD. Candidates work closely with a mentor to develop foundational knowledge of the field and to explore and refine their research ideas in a supportive space.


The Pre-Doc programme follows the same structured cohort model programme provided for the registered doctoral candidates. Modules include:

  • Orientation to doctoral studies
  • Mapping the field of higher education studies
  • Exploring theoretical frameworks in higher education studies
  • Exploring methodological frameworks in higher education studies
  • Developing criticality in higher education studies research
  • Conducting ethical higher education studies research


Upon successful completion of the structured programme, successful Pre-Doc candidates may be invited to join the PhD cohort in
the following year.

There are a number of reasons for people being Pre-Docs rather than registered Doctoral scholars. Pre-Docs may elect to participate in the programme in this more informal manner because they are unsure of their research field or topic and use the programme as a mechanism of support through which to determine this. Alternatively Pre-Docs may be advised to join the programme because they are new to the field of Education or a particular specialisation within the field and need the additional time to become familiar with this or to grapple with conceptual and theoretical issues.


There are numerous benefits associated with participation in the programme such as having a community of fellow researchers with whom to engage, having access to a forum to present one’s ideas and plans and having access to various resources.

The Pre-Doc year contributes to Pre-Docs being able to:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of key issues in higher education in general and their specialisation in particular
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the scope of the field of study
  • Demonstrate engagement with relevant literature and an ability to position the prospective study in the light of the literature
  • Develop a researchable research question for their prospective study
  • Decide on an appropriate research methodology to address the research question
  • Consider practical and theoretical aspects relating to the generation, documentation and analysis of data
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of, and insight into, research design.


To apply for the Pre-Doc programme, please email the following documents to Dr Kirstin Wilmot (

  • A concept note (approx. five pages) where you outline your proposed research
  • A copy of your CV
  • A copy of your master’s thesis
  • A copy of your master examiners’ reports (if possible)


The application deadline is 15 November 2024


Last Modified: Thu, 06 Jun 2024 09:48:20 SAST