Call for Applications: MPhil in Public Mental Health

The Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health (CPMH), a joint initiative of the Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University and the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town, is an independent inter-disciplinary academic research and teaching centre for public mental health promotion and service development in Africa.  The CPMH is proud to invite applications from across the African continent for the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Public Mental Health in 2020.


The MPhil in Public Mental Health is a part-time research degree that aims to develop advanced research skills, enabling participants to undertake their own research projects (such as evaluating services, policies and interventions) as well as interpret research findings for mental health policy and practice.  The programme is designed to be accessible to practitioners who work full-time, and who are from a range of backgrounds: social work, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, occupational therapy, nursing, health economics, public mental health, public health, health service management, policy making and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).  The training aims to build the professional capacity and leadership of the participants in their work, while contributing to knowledge generation in Africa.

The degree requires:

  • The completion of a 3-week residential training module in research methodology for public mental health in Cape Town;
  • Participate in an online writing course March 2020; and
  • The preparation of a dissertation of a minimum of 20 000 words

3-week Residential Training Module in Research Methodology

The course will start with a 3-week residential training session in Cape Town from 20 January – 7 February 2020.  Students will attend lectures, seminars and workshops at the University of Cape Town. The content of the residential training module will be focussed on research methodology for public mental health, and includes an orientation to public mental health, quantitative and qualitative research methods, statistics and epidemiology for mental health, introduction to systematic reviews, and introduction to economic evaluation.

During the residential training session students are also expected to meet with their research supervisors and develop their draft research proposals, which they are required to present to a review panel on Friday 7 February 2020

Following the residential session, participants will be provided with ongoing support and supervision via e-learning, guiding them through the process of finalising their research proposals, gaining ethics approval for the research, gathering and analysing data for their research, and eventually completing their dissertations. During the 2 years that are required to complete the dissertation, students will be required to attend monthly webinars from their home countries, which will be used to provide additional structured teaching and review research progress.

Public Mental Health Dissertation

The dissertation component aims to provide students with the opportunity to acquire specialised knowledge in a specific area of Public Mental Health. It also provides a practical opportunity for the student to master the research process, which includes selection of a topic; self-driven but supervised investigation; data collection and management; assimilation, analysis, interpretation and critical discussion; understanding and coherent presentation. The dissertation will preferably be related to the ongoing work conducted by participants in their respective countries.  For example, students may choose to evaluate a mental health programme in their own service organization or region.  This would serve the dual function of the development of the student’s research skills and service development, with ongoing support and supervision from the CPMH.

The dissertation is examined according to the University’s regulations for the examination of master’s theses as stipulated in the relevant university handbook.  Dissertations will be assessed by two external examiners, other than the one at which the student is registered and/or international academic institutions.

Research supervisors employed by the Centre are acknowledged experts in public mental health, with a proven publication record and experience of supervising and mentoring students at Masters level.


Registration is for a minimum of 1 year, and normally the dissertation takes 2 years to complete.  For administrative purposes, students will have to register with one of the collaborating universities i.e. with UCT or Stellenbosch. Candidates should indicate their preference on their application, but as we require an equitable number of students enrolled at each university, we cannot guarantee registration at the University of the student’s choice. The course content and requirements will be the same for both universities. The degree will be awarded by the university at which the student is registered.

Admission Requirements

Candidates for this programme should be in possession of an Honours degree or post-graduate diploma in Public Mental Health or a cognate discipline or an equivalent four-year qualification. In addition, candidates should:

  1. have experience of working in a mental health, health or development related field for at least three years;
  2. be employed within a managerial or leadership role, or have the capacity for such a role; and
  3. show evidence of adequate English language and writing proficiency for postgraduate academic studies.
Please Note
  • A research programme of this nature requires dedicated time and the ability to work independently. You will require a minimum of 10 hours per week on average to complete the dissertation. Please consider this carefully before applying.
  • The MPhil in Public Mental Health does not lead to a professional qualification that can be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa or any other health professions council. It is strictly an academic research degree.


The estimated fees for this course for 2018, at the respective universities, are as follows:

Tuition Fees per year ZAR 32 170 ZAR 28 000
Application Fee

ZAR 100 (RSA and SADC)

ZAR 300 (rest of world)

ZAR 100

Fees for 2020 will be finalised in October 2019, the details of which will be circulated as soon as they become available.  For more information on fees please see (Stellenbosch University) or (UCT).

The AMARI Fellowship

AMARI (African Mental Health Research Initiative) is a mental health research capacity building grant funded through the Wellcome Trust’s Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) programme. The overall goal of AMARI is to build an Africa-led network of mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) researchers in Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, who are equipped to lead high quality mental health research programmes that meet the needs of their countries.

In order to meet its aim of building capacity, AMARI is offering 4 Fellowships to candidates from AMARI countries to complete the MPhil in Public Mental Health in the Centre for Public Mental Health in 2020. All successful fellows will be registered at the University of Cape Town.

The Fellowships cover all the tuition, travel and accommodation fees related to the programme.  To be considered for the fellowships, candidates must:

  • be a citizen or permanent resident of South Africa, Ethiopia, Malawi, or Zimbabwe
  • successfully gain entry to the MPhil in Public Mental Health, and
  • undertake a research project that is aligned with the goal of AMARI.

Please note:

  • One AMARI Fellowship will be reserved for a candidate from Malawi. The remaining 3 Fellowships are open to applications from any of the four AMARI countries.
  • The AMARI Fellowship is tenable during the first and second years of registration. Should the degree not be completed within 2 years, the candidate will be responsible for the necessary registration fee and study costs in subsequent years of registration.

Selection Process

Admission to the programme is highly competitive, and is based primarily on academic merit and potential to contribute to mental health development in under-served areas in Africa.  A rigorous selection process will be engaged in to identify the candidates who are most likely to successfully complete the degree within the prescribed period. In addition to the written application, short-listed applicants may be requested to attend a teleconference interview.

The application forms are detailed, so that we have as much relevant information possible to enable us to select the most suitable candidates.  The completed application forms, together with all the required supporting documents, must be submitted electronically as a PDF file to Songelwa Mobo at on or before 30 August 2019.

The outcome of the selection process will be communicated to all applicants by early October 2019.


Instructions for completing the application form are provided in this section.  Please read and follow these instructions carefully as they are not repeated on the application form itself.

  • The attached application forms must be completed in full and submitted with all required documents as a PDF file, with your surname and initial as the file name, to
  • Each application should consist of the following:
  • Completed application form
  • Research proposal (see attached format)
  • Names of 2 referees. We will contact them directly.
  • Certified copies of original academic transcripts
  • Photograph
  • Signed declaration
  • An example of your own academic writing skills such as an article written by you. (Please do not submit a co-authored paper as we require an example of your writing skills).
  • Please do not include any additional material (such as a separate CV) in your application package. Provision has been made on the application form for all information required for the selection process.
  • If you have any questions about the application form or process, please contact Songelwa Mobo (
  • Upon selection, students will be given additional information related to their registering university (such as information related to fees, registration, accommodation, financial assistance, etc), as well as more detailed information about the course.

Download application form

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