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Invitation to study PhD with Design

The Architecture Department at the University of the Free State is pleased to welcome potential candidates who wish to apply for our new PhD in Architecture with Specialisation in Design. The new degree is aimed at architects with a five-year BArch degree and successful design experience, and younger MArch graduates, who wish to explore creative research. It is envisaged that the PhD study might be ‘practice-based’ for architects who wish to document and research their own work, or ‘design-led’ for candidates who wish to explore a new creative project.

The new PhD with design programme at UFS – a first for SA – recognises the intelligence and ingenuity of design. The programme’s primary objective is to harvest and study the implicit orientations, operations and achievements of design, and to enlist creativity in the forming of new knowledge. The degree facilitates analytical reflection, stimulates creative action and opens new insights into the unique logic of design.

BArch and MArch Applicants

Candidates with an MArch may enter directly into the PhD programme. For candidates with the former five-year BArch degree, it should be noted that South African universities are bound by national qualification standards which rate a BArch and a MArch differently (despite the fact that SACAP acknowledge professional equivalence). Therefore, candidates with the former five-year BArch must complete a one-year MArch before gaining admission to a PhD. The new PhD with Design programme at UFS is, however, intentionally structured to accommodate this ‘anomaly’, and allows for an effective transition into PhD studies for candidates who enter with the former five-year BArch professional degree.

Duration of Study

The first year of study – aided by four research symposia in January, April, June and August – allows Master's and PhD candidates to define their intended PhD research plan. At the end of the year, successful candidates who entered with a BArch have the option to either exit with a Master's study of their own design work, or to use their Master's as a stepping stone toward a PhD. It is foreseeable that candidates who enter with either the old five-year BArch or an MArch might exit with a PhD within three years of full-time study.

How to apply

Candidates wishing to study in 2024 must apply to the university and inform the department by 01 January 2024.

Applications may be made online here.

Academic plan code for Masters of Architecture (Design): BC480314
Academic plan code for PhD Architecture with Design: BC490114

Information on the application process is provided in the 2023 Postgraduate Prospectus, viewable here.

Candidates must also present at the department, from 10:00 on 15 January 2024.

Acceptance into the programme requires the following:

  1. Candidates to present a 15-minute oral/visual presentation at the UFS department of architecture, or via our ‘Zoom’ style digital platform, to show either:
  2. And, three pages of writing about the presentation, a CV, an academic record, and a confirmation as to whether the presentation will be digital or in person, should be emailed to Mpendulo Troy Myeni by 1st January 2024.
Entry into programme is subject to availibility of space. Selection will be made on the basis of the presentation, the written page and the candidates academic record. 

Programe Convener Prof Jonathan Noble
Contact Person | Mpendulo Troy Myeni | 0514012500 |

Typical Research Programme

  • First year, four research symposia per year
  • Second year onward, two PhD symposia per year 


Research Symposium 1

First-year candidates  
Readings and discussion of candidates’ projects and intended research 


Research Symposium 2 (PhD Symposium 1)

All years combined
Research methods and candidate presentations             


Research Symposium 3

First-year candidates
Candidate presentations


Research Symposium 4 (PhD Symposium 2)

All years combined
Candidate presentations

Introductory Reading

Van Schaik, Leon. 2011. “The Pink Book. By Practice, By Invitation: Design Practice Research in Architecture and Design at RMIT, 1986 – 2011”. RMIT.


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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