Student submission guidelines for theses or dissertations

UCT encourages research and development and social outreach by creating a research culture that actively responds to the needs of the people of South Africa, while also contributing to the global research community. The Open Access policy, adopted by Council in June 2014, requires that the final corrected version of all student research theses (doctoral degrees) or dissertations (master’s degrees) would be made publically available in the institutional repository, OpenUCT, on the date of conferral of the degree. OpenUCT serves as the platform to showcase the scholarly output of UCT to the world; maximising the visibility and impact of these outputs.

What are the benefits of making my work open access?

  • Thesis and dissertations are easily discovered in search engines like Google Scholar or Yahoo and are fully indexed. This makes your research available for national and international scholarly use.
  • Adding your thesis to the OpenUCT repository makes your research freely accessible to be found, downloaded and read by a global audience, thus adding to the possibility of being cited more and being discovered by potential employers.
  • A persistent link is automatically assigned to the thesis file, which will not change and can be used in an email signature, added to a CV or added to social networking sites like ResearchGate and

What does the deposit of my thesis in OpenUCT mean for me?

At UCT you hold copyright to your thesis, but UCT retains the non-exclusive royalty-free license to make it publically available in whole or in part, according to Rule GP8 (2015 rules).  It is important to note that you do not relinquish the copyright of your work when your thesis or dissertation is open access.

Publishers might approach you to publish your thesis, and you should be aware that your permission should not conflict with the rights granted to UCT, especially if publishers want exclusive rights.  For further information on publisher rights, contact OpenUCT.

Exceptions to Open Access publication

UCT students are encouraged, under the Open Access policy (2014), to place their thesis or dissertation in the public domain for the advancement, preservation and dissemination of knowledge.  This will be done by making the thesis or dissertation publically available in the OpenUCT repository, together with the metadata and an abstract on the date of conferral of the degree. Exceptions to the default position of open access are permitted under three conditions.

Deferred Publication

A supervisor, with the approval of the student, prior to graduation, may defer publication of the thesis or dissertation for the period of 6, 12 or 24 months from the date of conferral of the degree in order to allow the submission of work for publication, arising from the thesis or dissertation.

The publication of MBA minor dissertations will also be deferred for 6, 12 or 24 months from the date of conferment of the degree, where company in-house information had been provided on the basis that it would not enter the public domain for a prescribed period.

The metadata describing the thesis or dissertation and the abstract will be made available in OpenUCT after the conferment of the degree. Once determined, this period of deferral cannot be extended.


To enable IP protection of work arising from the dissertation or thesis, an application is made on the prescribed form and submitted to the Doctoral Degrees Board (or in the case of a master’s degree dissertation, to the DVC responsible for research) for a deferral period of 6,12 or 24 months, with a request that the thesis be kept confidential. The metadata and abstract will, however, be publically available on conferment of the degree. On the advice of RCIPS, an amended abstract that does not compromise IP shall be provided by the candidate and his/her supervisor, which will be publically available in OpenUCT for the period of deferral.

Sensitive data

A thesis or dissertation can be deferred for an indefinite period where the student has provided adequate reason to the Faculty’s Ethics Committee, which, in turn, will recommend to the Senate Executive Committee that the publication of a thesis or dissertation be deferred.  Only a hard copy of the thesis or dissertation will be lodged in Special Collections in UCT Libraries and withheld from circulation.