LL.M/M.Phil in Multilevel Government and Local Government

This one-year Masters Course equips students to understand how South African provinces and local government work, how the multilevel system of government compares to other countries on the continent and on what global theories and practices it is based.

Students emerge with a thorough understanding of how multilevel states are designed, how powers are divided, how finances are allocated, how national government supervises subnational governments (provinces and municipalities) and how different levels of government work together. The Course combines legal and constitutional studies with other disciplines, such as political science and public administration. Furthermore, it combines theory with practice, including an internship in government dealing with multilevel governance and local government. Students are taught and supervised by distinguished scholars in local government, multilevel government (decentralisation, devolution, federalism, intergovernmental relations), rule of law and good governance.

They include: Prof Jaap de Visser - National Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Law & Development at the Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) at UWC; Prof Yonatan Fessha - Professor at UWC’s Law Faculty; and Prof Tinashe Carlton Chigwata - Head of Multilevel Government Project at DOI, who also manages the programme. In addition, eminent local and international scholars regularly teach in our programme as guest lecturers. We have previously hosted Prof Henk Kummeling, Rector of Utrecht University; Prof Xavier Philippe, University Paris II (Sorbonne); and Prof Zemelak Ayele (Addis Ababa University).

Overview of the course

The course comprises four modules and a research paper. Students may also apply for permission to do two modules and a mini-thesis or a full thesis, instead.

The modules offered are:

  • Local Government
  • Multilevel Government
  • Constitutional Practice (Internship)
  • Rule of Law and Good Governance
  • Constitution Design in Divided Societies (offered by the Law Faculty)


  • Seminars for each module are conducted on Thursdays, for seven weeks, from 9:00 to 13:00

The seminars will be conducted in the following order:

  • Local Government from February to March
  • Multilevel Government from April to May
  • Internship from June to July
  • Rule of Law and Good Governance from August to September


  • UWC Campus (Law Faculty)


  • Performance is assessed on the basis of (1) regular writing assignments and (2) a formal examination at the end of each module.

Internship (Constitutional Practice)

As part of the Masters programme, our students may undertake a two months internship to expose them to the real-life working of government and governance processes. The internship is open to students selected on the basis of their performance in the first two modules. Interns are placed at government institutions such as the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Department of Local Government, Finance and Fiscal Commission and South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Our students have consistently provided excellent reports about their time spent at these institutions. Performance during the internship is examined on the basis of a portfolio produced by the student.


Students must write a research paper after completing four modules (the research paper constitutes 50% of overall course mark). Students who select only the first two modules must complete a mini-thesis (the mini-thesis constitutes 75% of overall course mark).

Career Options

Our Masters programme is a gateway to influential career positions. Our former students occupy key positions in government, the private sector and civil society. Some of the students are now judges; clerks at the Constitutional Court; advocates; attorneys; legal advisors; senior managers in municipalities, provincial governments and national government; and renowned academics in South Africa and beyond.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • an LLB degree, or an honours degree in political science, economics, public administration or other related social sciences;
  • proven ability to undertake advanced research; and
  • relevant experience, where applicable.

International applicants who wish to apply for admission must have their foreign qualifications evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The online application for the evaluation of foreign qualifications can be accessed HERE. The relevant Evaluation Certificate or proof of submission of the evaluation application must accompany the application.

How to apply

Complete this form to submit your application.

Applications must include a current CV, a motivation letter, certified copies of academic records (degree and transcript), and a writing sample, which may include a published article, a research paper or a thesis.

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS for ADMISSION TO THE PROGRAMME: 30 September 2024. This deadline applies only for students who do NOT want to apply for an NRF masters bursary. 



How to apply for bursaries

  • The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a few masters bursaries through the South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government in the 2025 academic year.
  • The NRF minimum academic requirement for postgraduate funding is 65%. Applicants for a masters degree must not be more than 30 years of age in the year of application. Successful applicants will be funded either at Full Cost of Study (FCS) or Partial Cost of Study (PCS). The FCS funding will be awarded to South African citizens and permanent residents only, who are either financially needy (i.e., those whose combined household family income is less or equal to R350 000 per annum), living with a disability or exceptional academic achievers. However, the PCS funding will be awarded to 5% of international students including South African citizens and permanent residents who could not be funded under FCS but meet other minimum requirements for the NRF scholarship funding.
  • An application for a bursary must also be accompanied by an application for admission to the programme, as explained above.

Bursaries are available only for full-time students. To be nominated for a masters bursary, an applicant must have an excellent academic record as well as proven research ability. Nominated students will be advised by the Dullah Omar Institute soonest to apply for an NRF bursary online: Deadline 05 July 2024.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

This Programme falls within the scope of UWC's Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program which contains exciting opportunities for postgraduate bursaries. The deadline for applications is 30 August 2024. For more information click HERE.