The MPhil in Programme Evaluation [CM033BUS15] is a two-year, part-time Master’s degree that provides students with comprehensive knowledge and skills in evaluation theory and practice. The taught content is delivered through seven block release weeks during the two years and is thus convenient for working professionals or students not residing in Cape Town.  We aim to produce graduates that go on to improve the quality, accountability and transparency of a wide range of social and development programmes. The applied curriculum straddles an innovative interdisciplinary space influenced by the latest developments in evaluation theory and practice.

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Since the early 2000s, programme monitoring and evaluation has experienced unprecedented growth as a profession, industry, governance tool and field of applied research. A growing majority of government and non-government organisations employ in-house monitoring and evaluation specialists. In South Africa, statutory bodies such as the Department for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) continue to drive local demand for qualified programme evaluators.

When one evaluates a programme‚ one asks: Is it working? Sometimes we also ask: How is it working? To answer these questions, an evaluator needs to apply fundamental research design and data analysis skills to real-world questions and problems with an evaluative (or judgment) value. Programme evaluation as a discipline thus appeals to graduate students with a robust solutions-based approach to research who want to apply their academic skills in an authentic way to pressing social problems.


Our graduates work with a wide range of social programmes, including programmes for poverty alleviation‚ children at risk‚ HIV/AIDS, public health, housing‚ domestic violence‚ drug addiction, agricultural development, food security and nutrition. Some of our students also work with people management programmes (programmes in big companies to improve lack of skills‚ poor performance‚ or organisational culture). Programme evaluators find out if these programmes work and how to improve them.


Our students require existing knowledge of research design, research methods, and quantitative and/or qualitative approaches for rigorous empirical data collection and analysis.

To qualify for selection into the programme‚ you must have:

  • An honours or a four-year professional bachelor’s degree at HEQF level 8.
  • Completed a component of quantitative research methods/statistics in your honours degree/4th year.
  • An average mark of 65% for your honours degree/final 4th year of study

Please note that a bachelor’s degree is not accepted.

We accept students from a wide range of backgrounds – including economics, political studies, business science, public health, development studies, sociology, social work, psychology and the applied natural sciences and education. Regardless of background, all students must have met the minimum admission requirements.


Applications must be completed using UCT’s online application portal. Applications open on 1 April and close on 31 October of the year preceding study.

Apply Here

When you apply, be sure to select Faculty – Commerce and then select Master of Philosophy. From there – the option for specialisation in Programme Evaluation will come up.

You must upload your 4-year undergraduate/honours degree transcript with your application. A transcript is an official document from the university where you obtained your degree(s) and should reflect your marks and the specific courses or modules you took. Please do not upload copies of degree certificates or generic course outlines, or curricula.

No other documents (other degrees‚ referees’ reports‚ intended dissertation topic‚ etc.) are required. Do not upload these. 

Decisions on applications are usually made in November or December, and you will be notified of the outcome by the end of December.

Please remember that if you want to apply for an NRF or other scholarship to support your studies, you must submit your application in line with the UCT internal deadlines, usually between June to October in the year preceding study. Deadlines are listed on the Postgraduate degree funding noticeboard.

If you want to apply for funding, you may require an early offer. If this is the case, please apply online as soon as possible and then notify the programme convener, Adiilah Boodhoo, that you have applied and wish to be considered for an early offer due to a specific funding deadline. Please attach proof of the funding source you want to apply for in your email. The course convenor will then deem if you might qualify for an early offer, and if possible, your application will be reviewed and processed on an accelerated timeline by the selection committee.

Please note that if you do not request an early review in this way, you will be notified of the decision on your application, along with the rest of the applicant pool, in November or December.


The degree is registered in the Commerce Faculty and is administered by the Section of Organisational Psychology within the School of Management Studies. Graduates of this degree qualify with an MPhil specialising in Programme Evaluation. A background in organisational psychology or management studies is not a requirement for entry into the degree.


All applicants who fulfil the minimum requirements and have submitted the required degree transcript will proceed to a selection process. Academic performance in the honours degree/4th year is the main selection criterion.

A strong background in research methods and/or strong performance in research project components is an advantage. A postgraduate diploma in monitoring and evaluation is also an advantage. 

Short-listed candidates and applicants might be contacted and requested to submit writing samples or other such examples of your prior academic work. Applicants will usually be informed of the outcome of the selection process during the first week of December, although earlier notifications may occur.

Please note that due to infrastructure and human resource constraints, the selection process is highly competitive, and offers are made to a limited number of applicants.


The degree consists of two parts: a 120-credit coursework component and a 60-credit research project.

The curriculum as a whole aims to teach students how to:

  • Frame and tailor specific evaluation questions to a given programmatic context.
  • Develop an evaluation design or assessment methodology suited to a particular set of questions.
  • Adapt principles of research design and analysis to the specific assessment of a social programme’s implementation, outcomes and impact.
  • Analyse, present and interpret evaluation data and findings to inform programme management and improvement.

We also provide students with an understanding of monitoring (tracking the progress of the programme) and programme theory (the way in which programmes change a problem or people).

BUS5037W and BUS5056W (Coursework year 1 and year 2)

The coursework is delivered part-time over two years via seven weeks of block release (3 or 4 weeks per year). Over the seven weeks of block release, students will cover various coursework modules, comprising a total of 180 hours of contact time.

It is a requirement that students pass all coursework modules to pass the coursework component. Details of the coursework modules are provided below.

Principles of Programme Evaluation

This module provides a systematic overview and introduction to theory-based programme evaluation and its methods. In this module, we work as a class under the guidance of an experienced instructor in evaluation to develop an evaluation approach for a community partner (usually a local Non-Government organisation). We focus on working with a ‘real’ client to understand the logic of programmes and how evaluation tracks this logic. As a class, we explore different evaluation questions and consider questions of programme integrity and strength. Students are also taught the principles of stakeholder relations‚ user-friendly client reports, and the ethics of programme evaluation.

Statistics for Evaluation

In this foundational statistics course, students are taught to identify and apply correct statistical procedures to the quantitative exploration of questions often important in an evaluation context. For example, did a group of programme beneficiaries significantly improve on an outcome after the introduction of an intervention? If so, was there a different rate of change in an intervention relative to a comparison group? Is there statistically significant evidence of a causal effect of the programme on outcomes of interest? The course is structured to scaffold students through the most basic descriptive analysis approaches and the fundamentals of inferential statistics (correlation, t-tests, ANOVA, and simple and multivariate regression with moderation). The course includes both theoretical content and practical laboratory sessions using the SPSS statistical package. 

Advanced Quantitative Evaluation Design & Analysis

This module builds on the foundational statistics skills taught in Statistics for Evaluation and extends students’ knowledge even further to cover more nuanced statistical analyses and design elements suitable for more complex quantitative evaluation designs. Design elements include sample size calculations and how to deal with elements of selective uptake, clustering, or attrition in an evaluation design. Analyses approaches include statistical approaches suitable for analysing interrupted time series design, difference-in-difference, propensity score matching, and regression discontinuity designs. The course includes both theoretical content and practical laboratory sessions using the SPSS statistical package.

Qualitative Methods in Evaluation

In this module, students are introduced to qualitative approaches and their use in evaluation. Students are shown how to apply popular evaluation approaches that rely heavily on qualitative data. Sessions will cover the different qualitative frameworks and the types of questions that qualitative evaluation research can successfully address, the key types of qualitative data collection, how to develop appropriate questions, and the correct manner of conducting the interview. The seminars also cover the fundamentals of qualitative data analysis and the reporting of qualitative results.

Alternate Approaches for Complex Evaluations

In this module, we draw on experienced expert practitioners to introduce students to a wider range of different evaluation theories, approaches, methodologies, and views. As such, the module aims to familiarise students with a broad range of alternative methods and approaches that might be useful when dealing with real-life complexity in evaluation. Approaches covered include economic costing evaluation, developmental evaluation, outcome mapping, Africa-centric evaluation, participatory evaluation, realist evaluation and utilisation-focused evaluation.

Monitoring using Programme Theory

Monitoring refers to tracking the progress of a programme. To do this‚ we need to understand monitoring terminology and be able to track programme implementation and outcomes over time. In specific instances, we also need to know about local and global monitoring indicators or the monitoring requirements of funders as well as an appropriate (complementary) evaluation design. In this module, students learn how to develop and apply a plausible programme theory (or an explanation of what works and what does not work in a specific field) to the design and operationalisation of monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Students will learn how to produce appropriate indicators‚ measures and standards for specific programme outcomes and track programme progress against these. Additionally, students will be able to design a monitoring framework for programme implementation by formulating appropriate data collection questions for coverage‚ service delivery and programme organisation.

Research design for Impact Evaluation

In this module, we concentrate on what is required to build a causal (or programme impact) argument by means of research designs, in other words – what kind of research designs establish if the programme, and nothing else, caused observable changes in beneficiaries. Students are taught the different experimental and quasi-experimental impact evaluation designs and how to assess their strengths, limitations and applications in different evaluation contexts. Critical engagement with published evaluations in a combination with taught content provides students with a thorough grounding in core principles of good research and evaluation design.

At the discretion of the Head of Section, modules may be added or withdrawn.

Coursework Delivery Schedule



Contact Hours

Year one

Week 1 block release

Principles of Programme Evaluation (30 hrs)


Week 2 block release

Qualitative Methods in Evaluation (30 hours)


Week 3 block release

Research Design for Impact Evaluation (24 hours) and one dissertation design workshop (6 hours)


Week 4 block release

Alternate Approaches for Complex Evaluations (24 hours) and one dissertation design workshop (6 hours)


Year two

Week 5 block release:

Made in Africa Evaluation (30 hours)


Week 6 block release:

Statistics for evaluation (30 hours)


Week 7 block release:

Monitoring using Programme Theory (24 hours) and a dissertation data analysis workshop (6 hours)


The coursework delivery schedule is revised annually to allow for 3 to 4 weeks of block-release teaching per year. All block-release teaching will be in person at UCT. An example of a block release coursework delivery schedule is below.

BUS5050H and BUS5150H (Research dissertation 1 and 2)

The research report aims to assess whether or not students have mastered the principles of programme evaluation and are able to apply these to a real-life programme and construct a written research report in the form of a 60-credit dissertation based on this application.

Students work closely with an external programme (or client) chosen by the course convenor. In consultation with their supervisor and the client, students formulate appropriate evaluation questions and levels, conduct a critical literature review, develop a programme theory and revise the programme theory following a series of client consultations, use the evaluation literature to check the plausibility of the programme, select the correct methodology for primary and secondary data collection and analysis, and then present the  final design in a coherent class evaluation proposal, collect primary data for the evaluation (interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc.), analyse the primary data and write up the findings coherently in the form of a useful client evaluation report or mini-dissertation.


The MPhil is a two year, part-time programme.


No, this is not an online degree. However, the coursework is delivered face-to-face, at UCT, via seven-block release weeks, as many of our students are not based in Cape Town. Supervision for your research project may, if you wish, be conducted via online sessions, and students do not necessarily need to be residents in Cape Town for their research project.


Please consult the Fees Handbook for the cost of the programme under the relevant course codes BUS5037W and BUS5056W (coursework year 1 and year 2) and BUS5050H and BUS5150H (dissertation year 1 and year 2). International applicants should check under the relevant section, International Students, for their fees.

Special concessions on international fee levies are made for SADC residents, but non-SADC international students will be required to pay an international fee levy in addition to the basic tuition outlined in the handbook. All international students (regardless of whether they are SADC or not) need to pay an annual international administrative fee. Details can be found in the Fees Handbook. Please also consult the Before you arrive section of the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) website for important information on studying at UCT.

There is currently no dedicated scholarship or bursary programme for the MPhil in Programme Evaluation. However, limited financial support is available to all eligible UCT students in the form of scholarships‚ bursaries and student loans. Limited financial support is available through scholarships, bursaries, and student loans. Please contact the Postgraduate Funding Office for more information. 

Please note that some scholarships require application by June of the year preceding study. You are advised to apply in June even if you do not know by then whether you have been selected into the programme. International students should note that funding is limited and are advised to apply for sponsorship in their own countries.


Please contact the programme convener, Adiilah Boodhoo.

Please read the content of these FAQs carefully before making a general enquiry for information, as specific questions are more likely to yield useful answers.


Here are more useful resources related to this degree.

For more information on the programme, please refer to the Commerce Postgraduate Handbook

Not ready to commit to a Master’s degree? We have an 8-week, fully online short course in Programme Management: A Monitoring and Evaluation Approach.