This programme is for students wishing to pursue an in-depth research study in an area of occupational therapy. Students may study a topic of their choice or take on a research work recommended by the Division of Occupational Therapy.

Students are encouraged to register for and complete Research Methods I (AHS5014F), or an alternative Masters-level course, in research methodology prior to submission of the research proposal or, at the latest, within the first six months of registration. The course may be completed prior to registration, may be an online course, or may be a course offered at UCT.

Students are expected to attend the Dissertation Occupational Therapy (DOT) meetings which are held approximately four times during the year. The intention of these meetings is to facilitate networking, intellectual stimulation, presentations and discussion. Where possible, seminars on specific topics may be arranged based on student need.

Admission requirements

  • Degree in Occupational Therapy or equivalent qualification recognised by the Senate.
  • Minimum of two years practice experience is recommended.
  • Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa or equivalent body in the country in which research will be conducted.
  • Computer literacy.

Duration of the degree

The MSc (Occupational Therapy) by dissertation must be completed in a minimum period of one year full-time and a maximum period of three years full-time or five years part-time.


Students will complete a dissertation based on research undertaken with the guidance of a supervisor. The research should deal with a relevant topic on which the student demonstrates the ability to do independent research and record the findings. The topic of the research may be chosen by the student in consultation with the supervisor. Data collection should occur over a period of 6-9 months and write up of the dissertation a further 9 months. The student may only proceed with the project upon:

  • Approval of the research proposal by the Division of Occupational Therapy and the Departmental Research Committee;
  • Approval of the Faculty of Health Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee;
  • Registration of the dissertation with the Postgraduate Dissertations Committee.

In some cases there may be funding available to assist the student with the research project. The dissertation should not exceed 50,000 words (excluding references and appendices) and will be marked by two external examiners.

Application procedure

Before starting the application process the student is advised to contact the postgraduate convener, A/Prof Helen Buchanan(+27 21 406 6383), to discuss possible areas of research and to identify a possible supervisor.

Applications for the MSc in Occupational Therapy by dissertation are accepted throughout the academic year.

If you decide to apply to UCT you will find important information on applying for admission as a postgraduate student at the UCT postgraduate and postdoctoral studies hub at Postgraduate Studies

Please apply online at by clicking on the "Applicants and Students" link and applying for the programme of study in which you are interested. Your application will be referred to the relevant department who may be in touch with you regarding further application requirements.

All postgraduate applicants must apply online. Follow the link below for important information and postgraduate application directions:

 The application procedure requires students to submit:

Please contact Ms Salega Tape (+27 21 406 6340) with any further enquiries regarding the application form.

The Postgraduate Office must receive a completed application form before the closing date for the student to be considered for admission to study in the following year.

Selection committees meet periodically to consider applications and if you are admitted the faculty office will make the necessary arrangements for your registration.

Submission of a study outline

As part of the application process, the Division of Occupational Therapy requires the submission of a brief outline of the proposed study. Although a thesis supervisor will provide formal guidance and input in refining the research question and study design, at a Masters level it is expected that the student should have identified a specific research area of interest or a potential research question.

The study outline should include a brief rationale for the study, the proposed research question, and a short description of the proposed study design. The study outline should be a maximum of 500 words. This outline will be reviewed by a selection committee, to determine whether applicants are (a) familiar with the literature, (b) able to initiate research (i.e. familiar with principles of research design), and (c) to determine the level of scientific writing skills. In addition, the selection committee will decide whether there is an appropriate supervisor available to assist with thesis supervision. Admission to the programme will be dependent on the identification of a suitable topic and supervisor.


Information on fees and other important information around payments are available in the university fees handbook at:

Financial assistance

Opportunities for applying for financial assistance are available through the Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Studies Hub. Enquiries may also be directed to the Postgraduate Funding office.


General Rules and Policies - Handbook 3


Potential students are encouraged to contact A/Prof Helen Buchanan (Telephone: 021 406 6383) or Anele Abraham (Telephone: 021 650 5348) for further information.