ESDA in University of Cape Town

MPhil specialising in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development


Presentation of MPhil specialising in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development


The two-year MPhil programme was developed as part of the Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) project of the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), in collaboration with seven other African universities and the University of Tokyo, and was inaugurated in 2014. The programme targets students from all over the world, but from southern Africa in particular, and is offered and delivered collaboratively by UCT and the University of Zambia (UNZA).  It is designed to produce meaningful targeted research outcomes, while generating highly-skilled people with a good integrated understanding of the critical issues involved in developing mineral resources sustainably, and the sensitivity to project and harness this understanding in the context of different stakeholders.

As of October 2016, the programme is in its third year of operation and has a total cohort of 38 students, 23 of whom are registered at UCT, with 15 registered at UNZA. The students hail from four southern African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia), and Australia and Japan. They range from 21 to 51 years in age, and 13 of the 38 are female. Of the UCT students, only two are full-time, with the majority of the student body representing government, academia, the mining industry, consulting firms, and the economic and business sectors.


Programme Structure


The course work programme comprises four core course modules which students registered at the two universities (UCT and UNZA) attend as a single class. The two-year programme comprises core courses with a total value of 60 credits, and a research dissertation with a value of 120 credits. The four core courses are taken in three residential blocks of approximately 10 days each within the first year of study, and include:

  • Sustainable Development, convened by the Sustainability Institute at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa
  • Strategic Social Engagement, convened by the Graduate School of Business at UCT
  • Environmental Stewardship in Mining and Minerals Beneficiation, convened jointly by the University of Cape Town and the Zambian School of Mines at UNZA
  • Research Methodology and Communication, convened by the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT

The 120-credit research dissertation is convened by the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town and is jointly supervised by academics from at least two different research disciplines and/or groupings.

In addition to coursework, students are required to undertake a non-credit bearing field-based internship which entails structured engagement with a real problem in the developmental setting of a host organization.

Finally, each student is required to complete a dissertation, typically incorporating a research project of a theoretical or practical nature, in one or other of the areas covered by the core courses.


Who Should Apply


The programme is open to, and specifically recruits, graduate professionals from across a spectrum of disciplines, including geologists, engineers, planners, strategists, lawyers, regulators, health professionals, safety specialists, environmental officers, economists and social scientists, who seek a broader understanding of what is involved in sustainable mineral resource development in order to promote its application in the most meaningful way.

Applicants should hold a four-year bachelor or honours degree from a recognized institution.

For further details and application enquiries, contact the programme administrator, Mrs Eunice Jacobs (