The Centre for Sustainability Transitions builds on a strong history of transdisciplinary research and complexity studies at Stellenbosch University, providing a vibrant hub for solution-oriented sustainability science that hosts leading scientists and students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in a state-of-the-art research centre. The primary objective of the CST is to provide transformational knowledge on the dynamics of multi-scale social-ecological change, and strategic insights into the new modes of research and governance that can bring about a just transition to a more equitable and sustainable society, in southern Africa and globally. 

We seek motivated individuals interested to pursue a Masters on the following topics:

Please click on the links above for further details.


Bursaries will be funded from the DST/NRF SARChI chair held by Prof Biggs. The NRF minimum academic requirement for Masters funding is 65% average for the preceding Honours degree. Applicants for Masters funding must be 30 years of age or younger in the year of application. 

Successful applicants will be funded either at Full Cost 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. 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 criteria. 

Subject to availability of funds, CST aims to top-up NRF funding to R 120,000 pa (R 10,000 per month) for Masters students. Tuition and reasonable running and travel expenses will also be covered where possible. 


Potential PhD candidates should have completed a Masters degree or equivalent. Quantitative analytical skills will be an advantage. All candidates should show evidence of strong scholarly performance. Based on the National Research Foundation’s funding guidelines, strong preference will be given to South African nationals and under-represented groups. 

To apply 

Applications will follow a 2-step process: 

Step 1. Apply to CST 

All interested candidates should first apply to the CST by emailing the following documents to by 12 June 2021 with the subject line “PhD application: <PhD subject>”: 

  • a motivation letter (detailing your previous academic and work experience, and how your experiences and skills speak to the proposed research topic, as well as your specific interests with regard to the proposed project), 
  • a detailed CV that includes your academic record, previous work experience, any scientific publications on which you have been an author, and the names of at least two academic referees, 
  • transcripts of academic qualifications, 
  • at least one example of recent written work (e.g. a paper, report, thesis chapter). 

Step 2. Apply to NRF 

Suitable candidates will then be instructed to apply on the NRF system by 1 July 2021, and link their application to Prof Biggs’ SARChI Chair. Instructions on this process will be communicated to successful applicants in step 1. 

Please note that funding will only be awarded to candidates selected and approved by the NRF.