WPCS 2.1.2
Tuition Fees:$3,483 /year
Applications Begin:April 2020
Final Award:Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
Start Date:February 2021
Academic Unit:Faculty of Commerce
Campus:Upper Campus
Course Type:Master by Coursework & Dissertation
Application Deadline: 31 October 2020
Programme Overview

The Master’s in Programme Evaluation is a specialised degree that provides students with comprehensive knowledge and skills of evaluation theory and practice. Our aim is 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 that has been influenced by the latest developments in evaluation theory and practice.


The degree consists of two parts: a 90-credit coursework section and a 90-credit research dissertation which are equally weighted (50/50) towards a final 180-credit degree mark.

The curriculum as a whole aims to show students how to 1) frame and tailor specific evaluation questions to a given programmatic context, 2) how to develop an evaluation design or assessment methodology suited to a particular set of questions, 3) how to adapt principles of research design and analysis to the specific assessment of a social programme’s implementation, outcomes and impact, 4) and how to analyse, present and interpret evaluation data and findings. 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   (Coursework)

The coursework aims to equip students with advanced programme evaluation knowledge and skills. The course consists of five compulsory modules comprising at least 55 hours of contact time. The first three modules are usually presented in the first semester and the last two modules in the second semester. At the discretion of the Head of Section some second semester modules could be offered in the first semester.

It is a requirement that students pass all modules in order to pass the coursework component.

Principles of programme evaluation
This module provides a systematic overview and introduction to theory-based programme evaluation and its methods. We focus on the logic of programmes and how evaluation tracks this logic, and 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, and 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 include both theoretical content and practical laboratory sessions using the SPSS statistical package.

Research design for impact evaluation
In this module we concentrate on what is required to building 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 strength, 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.

Monitoring using programme theory
Monitoring refers to tracking the progress of a programme. In order 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. In addition‚ 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.

Advanced approaches for complex evaluations
This long module builds on the foundational content covered in the preceding modules and aims to put students at the forefront of the latest conversations about how we should assess programme impact. In the first half of the module we take an in-depth look at some of the more nuanced and innovative approaches increasingly used by evaluators to make causal inferences when randomised treatment allocation is impossible, or otherwise compromised. Methods discussed include the use of propensity-scores to aid in counterfactual estimation, the application of an instrumental variable approach to aid causal inference, and the use of advanced regression techniques to aid the analysis of panel, repeat measures or discontinuity-design evaluations. Practical sessions give students the opportunity to apply these principles to real data sets and/or evaluation problems.

In the second half of this module we take a step back from the largely positivist, quantitative position assumed in the first part of this module, and consider alternate (or possibly complementary) evaluation approaches to framing the assessment of programme impact. Approaches covered here include the use of qualitative methods in evaluation, applications of complex systems theory to evaluation problems, applying a valuing (including cost-efficiency) approach to the interpretation of evaluation findings, and techniques and merits of conducting an utilisation-focused evaluation.  We also consider recent thinking in the development of an Africa-centric evaluation theory of practice.

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

BUS5036S and BUS5050F (Research Report)

The research dissertation requires students to write a 20‚000 word evaluation of an existing social or people management programme. The research dissertation only commences at the start of the second semester (July of the first year of registration). The dissertation provides an opportunity to evaluate a ‘real-life’ programme and write it up as a client report. Students have to choose a programme that is being planned or that is currently running from a list of potential programmes that the course convenor has pre-identified. Students can if they wish also identify and approach a programme of their own choice as a subject of their dissertation.

In consultation with their supervisor and a client from the organization planning/running the programme, students formulate appropriate evaluation questions and levels. A proposal for the evaluation has to be presented to the Section and submitted to the Commerce Faculty Ethics in Research Committee by the end of the first year of the MPhil.  Data collection and write-up is then ongoing through the first half of the following year. Students are required to obtain at least 50% for their dissertation. The dissertation component contributes 50% towards the final mark for the degree.

Admission Requirements

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

In order to qualify for selection into the programme‚ you must have:

– An honours degree or a four year professional bachelor’s degree at HEQF level 8.
– Completed a component of quantitative research methods/statistics in your honours degree.
– An average mark of 65% for your honours degree.
Please note that a bachelor’s degree or a postgraduate diploma is not accepted.

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

Application Process
Application Fees for South African & SADC Students: $6
Application Fees for International Students: $18

How to apply
Postgraduate applications are only possible online and must be submitted at

If you need help in completing your application, or advice about your choice of programme, contact:
Tel: (021) 650-2128 or email:
The Admissions Office is located on Level 4, Masingene Building, Middle
Campus, and will where necessary refer you to a faculty office or department for more details information or advice.

Career Opportunities

Some career opportunities are;
– Colleges and Universities.
– Educational/Behavioral Consultant.
– National Institute of Health.
– National Science Foundation.
– Outcome Monitoring and Evaluation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– State Departments of Education.
– School Districts.
– U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Tuition Fees for South African & SADC Students: $3,483
Tuition Fees for International Students: $3,483

Please note that fees and payment requirements differ for local and international students. A further distinction is made between international students from the SADC region, international students from elsewhere in Africa, and international students from outside Africa. The following information does not apply to students registering at the Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Students must pay the Course Fees for the selected courses, plus an International Admin Service Fee of R4, 000 plus the International Term Fee where applicable
– International Admin Service Fee – R4000
– International Term Fee from outside Africa- R49900
– International Term Fee Non-SADC – R37263
– South Africa and SADC Application fee – R100
– Outside of SADC region – R300

Relevant Contact

Sarah Chapman
Programme Convener
Nonnie Falala
General Enquiries
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