Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab PhD Program in Urban Studies 2021/2022

Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open to:
south African citizens and citizens of other African countries 
regular support and networking activities


 The Wits-TUB-UNILAG Urban Lab program supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) seeks to improve graduate education in urban fields across Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is one of seven SDG Graduate Schools funded by the DAAD worldwide. The lead partners, the Habitat Unit at Technische Universität Berlin and the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University in Johannesburg and the University of Lagos, collaborate in the offering of an urban-oriented graduate training and capacity building programme at Wits University that seeks to effectively address the challenges and needs of modern urban studies.

Successful PhD candidates will be based in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. The school has a structured PhD offering. This will include regular support and networking activities for enrolled PhD students in the school.


  • The program is interdisciplinary, but they place a special emphasis on a portfolio that is inter- and transdisciplinary, cutting across the fields of development planning, housing, sustainable urban development, urban management, and urban design. Candidates in architecture and urban planning as well as in the humanities, cultural studies, urban geography, or social sciences with a focus on urban studies and planning as well as candidates in related fields such as landscape architecture are also welcome to apply.
  • Only South African citizens and citizens of other African countries can apply.
  • Applicants must hold a master’s degree that is equivalent to a master’s degree (NQF level 9) in the South African Qualification System (SAQA).
  • They must also meet the PhD admission requirements of the School, which include proven ability of excellent academic writing in English, and an academic transcript at masters level with marks averaging at least at 70%.
  • The program language is English. Proficiency in any other language necessary for their proposed geographic location of their fieldwork is recommended.
  • There is no age limit applying to the scholarships for study purposes. However, at the time of the application, no more than 6 years should have passed since an applicant graduated from his/ her previous master studies.


The School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University has a structured PhD offering. This will include regular support and
networking activities for enrolled PhD students across the school. The PhD students selected through this call will be in digital as well as face-to-face interaction (as and when possible) with the PhD cohort within the project at TU Berlin and University of Lagos. They will take part in a workshop in Lagos in 2022, and in 2024 they will have the opportunity to present their work at the project conference at Wits. In 2023, a PhD workshop will take place in Berlin where the students will present and discuss their work. Students will be encouraged to develop further activities for digital networking and dissemination (e.g. a blog, podcasts etc.). In the context of the abovementioned activities, they will be encouraged to contribute to/work on publications during their PhD studies.

How to apply?

Applications are being accepted by the school until August 31, 2021. Applicants with non-South Africa university qualification must keep the pre-screening deadline of May 31, 2021 in mind.

In order for the scholarship application to be complete, it must include the following documents:

  • The Wits-TUB-Unilag Scholarship Application Form
  • A cover letter explaining why you qualify for the scholarship.
  • Additionally, this letter should speak to the qualification criteria, and should also provide a connection between the project themes and your envisaged topic.
  • A 4-page research proposal indicating the intended area of research and topic, research question and methods. The main supervisors are Prof Mfaniseni Sihlongonyane and Prof Marie Huchzermeyer. Applicants’ research proposals should engage with at least one of the project’s research areas set out above (resilience, urban justice, solidarity) in the context of urban development on the African continent (the proposal needs to state the geographical area of the research), while also aligning to one of the main areas of expertise of either of the two main supervisors.
  • A CV
  • A copy of all degree certificates and official academic transcripts indicating marks for all degrees.
  • An electronic copy of any previous research undertaken (if available).
  • Letters of recommendations from two referees. At least one referee must be an academic under whom the applicant has studied.
  • For masters degree obtained outside of South Africa, a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) certificate ranking the applicant’s masters degree at NQF level 9.

All the listed documents must be submitted by August 31, 2021. 

For more information, please visit the official website.

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