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Masters and Doctoral Fellowships in the Environmental Humanities

Call for Applications:  

Applications are invited for five Masters fellowships and two PhD fellowships specialising in the Environmental Humanities programme at UCT, funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The NRF specifically seeks to award these to South African students, with a limited number of places for non-South Africans.

Towards an Environmental Humanities of the South:
Debates about ecology, energy and natural resource management in Southern Africa are often trapped in a polemic between ‘development’ and ‘the environment’. With the goal of re-imagining and reconfiguring the terms of such exchanges, and exploring the specific ways in which they take form in the global south, the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town is launching a new interdisciplinary research initiative to support the emergence of an Environmental Humanities of the South.  Supported by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, the Initiative is grounded in a new taught M.Phil specialising in the Environmental Humanities. 

With topics ranging from scientific modelling to government policy, from social justice movements to the creative arts, the programme will examine questions of sustainability, human wellbeing and the environment in their broadest sense.  In a 21st-century context of increasing pressure on the biosphere, the environmental humanities provide a vital intellectual space that enables researchers, students, artists, writers, scientists, policy-makers and practitioners to reflect critically on the concepts that underlie environmentalism in the Anthropocene.

Applications are invited for the six fellowships at the different levels. Of particular interest would be research projects that address environmental conflicts related to the following themes:

  • Race and the making of an environmental public
  • The militarisation of conservation
  • The anthropocene amid the challenges of the decolonising South
  • Nature and democracy 
  • Space, place, land and infrastructure 

Academic Criteria and Requirements:
Applicants are required to possess an Honours degree or equivalent qualification in the social sciences and creative arts. Candidates with some experience of transdisciplinary study, particularly in law, health, planning and conservation sciences are especially encouraged to apply.   

Value of awards:

  • M.Phil: R 40 000 per year - renewable for one further year (subject to satisfactory progress report).
  • PhD:    R 65 000 per year - renewable for two further years (subject to satisfactory progress report).

Conditions of the Award: 

  • Masters fellows will be required to register for and complete the courses of the M Phil specialising in Environmental Humanities and complete a research-based dissertation of 25000 words, under the primary supervision of one of the Environmental Humanities academic affiliates, in their home department. For more information on the supervisors and their research interests, please see the website
  • Doctoral fellows will be required to register for and complete the two core courses of the M Phil in Environmental Humanities and complete a dissertation of no less than 60 000 words and no more than 80 000 words, under the primary supervision of one of the Environmental Humanities academic affiliates. Additional courses are encouraged and may be required at the discretion of the M Phil Convenor. 
  • Fellows will be expected to contribute actively to the development of the field at UCT in various research and administrative capacities, up to a maximum average of six hours per week.
  • Fellows will be required to participate actively in the Environmental Humanities Seminar Programme.
  • A minimum of one sole- or primary-authored publication in a peer-reviewed journal in the field, by the end of the Scholarship.
  • Doctoral fellows are required to contribute at least one research-based article to popular media per annum.

Application for the Fellowships:

Application process:
To apply for a fellowship, please: 

1) Fill out the UCT application online at

2) Send the following documents to

  • a CV
  • a transcript
  • cover letter describing why you wish to study in this area
  • a 750-1000-word description of a research interest or specific project that links with the Environmental Humanities in the South
  • the names of three referees together with their telephone numbers and email addresses. 

3) Please send these application materials to by 9:00 am on November 30 2016

Online Application:
screenshot of the online application for the M Phil programme is available here.

Please note:

  • The code for the MPhil by coursework and dissertation in Environmental Humanities is HM041AXL09. 

For further information, please contact A/Prof Lesley Green in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, at Please use “Environmental Humanities Masters / Doctoral Enquiry ” as the subject line.

Other useful links:
•    A step-by-step guide to the UCT Doctoral application process can be found at
•    Humanities Handbook -
•    Fees -
•    Funding -