Postgraduate Studies




An Honours programme takes one year. Students complete four semester courses and write a short dissertation (15,000 words). Students are admitted into an Honours programme if they achieve an average of approximately 65% in the final year of their UG degree


The Department also offers the Honours programme on a part-time basis over 2 years. As per the below excerpt from the Handbook 9b Faculty Rules for Postgraduate Qualifications, the part-time honours is completed over 2 years and fees are charged per course.


FH5        Period of Registration:

                5.2          Part-time study  

(a)          A two-year programme may be offered for bona fide part-time students by any department in the Faculty which offers an Honours course, at the discretion of the Head of Department concerned. Applications from students for a two-year programme shall be submitted, together with the evidence that the applicant is a bona fide part-time student, by the Head of the Department concerned to the Faculty for approval.

(b)          A part-time candidate shall attend and complete the prescribed work for the degree within two years of part-time study.


Honours courses:

  1. Critical Terms in Religious Studies 1 (Compulsory)
  2. Critical Terms in Religious Studies 2 (Compulsory)
  3. Buddhism
  4. Islamic Studies
  5. Religion and Culture in Africa
  6. Religion and Gender
  7. Issues in Contemporary Jewish Thought
  8. African Religious Movements
  9. Explorations in Islam

***Please contact the Department to confirm which courses will be offered


The department offers two types of Masters Degrees.

  1. A Masters by coursework takes two years. Students take four courses and write a 25,000 word dissertation.


Masters courses:

  1. Critical Terms in Religious Studies 1
  2. Critical Terms in Religious Studies 2
  3. African Religious Movements
  4. Explorations in Islam
  5. Religion and Gender
  6. Philosophers on Religion
  7. African Religious Movements
  8. Reading Religious Texts
  1. Issues in Contemporary Jewish Thought
  2. Islamic Studies
  3. Buddhism

***Please contact the Department to confirm which courses will be offered


  1. A Masters by research does not involve coursework. Students write a substantial 50,000 word dissertation


Phd: The PhD is by dissertation only, and involves original research. The thesis should be in the region of 80,000 words and takes at least 3 years to complete.


If you are interested in a research masters or PhD, it would be best to contact one of the staff below to discuss possible thesis topic and supervision.


Due Dates for applications:

Application for Honours and Masters by coursework

  1. October

Applications for Masters by research and PhD,

  1. March

Registration for Honours and Masters by coursework at the Graduate School of Humanities: during February  

For application procedure speak to Tasneem Wise


Staff research areas and possibilities available for postgraduate research:

Dr Louis Blond

Jewish Thought

Louis Blond focuses on meaning in contemporary philosophy and philosophy’s relationship with politics, critical theory and religious discourse, particularly Jewish Thought. Previously he has explored responses to nihilism and homelessness in the work of thinkers such Franz Rosenzweig, Emmanuel Levinas and Martin Heidegger. His current research includes a re-examination of the philosophical descriptions of otherness, devekut, and the relationship between natural law and religion and politics.



Dr. Andrea Brigaglia

Islamic Studies, African Studies

Andrea Brigaglia has combined the study of Arabic and Hausa languages with Islamic and African history. His previous work examined the history of the discipline of Qur’anic exegesis in Hausa-speaking Northern Nigeria in the twentieth century, exploring it as an arena for the interaction of religious scholars and society, and for the articulation of intellectual and cultural transformation.



Dr. Elisabetta Porcu

Asian Religions, Japanese Religions, Religion and Society

Elisabetta Porcu specializes in Japanese Religions in contemporary society. Her research interests include Buddhism; religion, popular culture (manga and anime), media and consumerism; orientalism; secularization; religious festivals; as well as Japanese religions in South Africa. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Japan where she has lived and worked for seven years. In her work she combines theoretical concepts with empirical research.



Assoc. Prof. Sa'diyya Shaikh

Islamic Studies, Feminist Theory

Sa'diyya Shaikh is the current Head of department who specializes in the area of Islamic Studies with a focus on gender, feminism and Islamic mysticism. Her research interests include theoretical developments in Islamic feminism, critical scholarship on gender violence and religion, and feminist readings of pre-modern Islamic texts, with a particular interest in the writings of the Sufi thinker Ibn Arabi. She has also published empirically-based research papers on South African Muslim women on issues relating to marriage, sexuality and gender relations.



Prof. Abdulkader Tayob

Islamic Studies, Religion and Public Life

Abdulkader Tayob holds the NRF chair in Islam, African Publics and Religious Values. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the study of modern Islam in general, and Islam in Africa in particular. His research focus has been on Islamic revival, religious institutions and modern intellectual trends. He has carried out his research in South Africa, and in classical and modern textual traditions. Currently he is also focussing on East Africa and Egypt, examining biographical self-reflections of Islamists and other religious leaders. Prof. Tayob has a number of PG student scholarships available with his NRF chair. For this contact


Assoc. Prof.  Asonzeh Ukah (Head of Department)

Christianity in Africa, African Religions

Asonzeh Ukah areas of interests are in religion and globalisation; transnational religion; media and material culture of Pentecostalism; Pentecostal advertising: faith and films; urbanism and sacred space.











The Department of Religious Studies is on the 5th floor of the Leslie Social Sciences Building, Upper Campus


Check us out online:


Come and talk to any of the teaching staff or contact:


Undergraduate information:

Jackie Stoffels (Senior Secretary)

LS 5.40

T: (021) 650 3452



Postgraduate information:

Tasneem Wise (Admin Assistant)

LS 5.36

T: (021) 650 5818



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