Contact us: Kauthar.Hendricks@uct.ac.za

Master’s in Programme Evaluation

Welcome

The Master’s in Programme Evaluation is a specialised degree that provides students with comprehensive knowledge and skills of evaluation theory and practice. Our aim is to produce graduates that go on to improve the quality, accountability and transparency of a wide range of social and development programmes. The applied curriculum straddles an innovative interdisciplinary space that has been influenced by the latest developments in evaluation theory and practice.

 

What is programme evaluation?

Since the early 2000s, programme monitoring and evaluation has experienced an unprecedented growth as a profession, industry, governance tool and field of applied research. A growing majority of government and non-government organisations employ their own in-house monitoring and evaluation specialists, and in South Africa statutory bodies such as the Department for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) continue to drive local demand for qualified programme evaluators.

When one evaluates a programme‚ one asks: Is it working? Sometimes we also ask: How is it working? To answer to these questions an evaluator needs to be able to apply fundamental research design and data analysis skills to real-world questions and problems that have an evaluative (or judgement) value. Programme evaluation as a discipline thus appeals to graduate students with a strong solutions-based approach to research wishing to apply their academic skills in a very real way to pressing social problems.

What types of programmes are evaluated?

Our students work with a wide range of social programmes, including programmes for poverty alleviation‚ children at risk‚ HIV/AIDS, public health, housing‚ domestic violence‚ drug addiction, agricultural development, food security and nutrition. Some of our students also work with people management programmes (programmes in big companies aimed at improving lack of skills‚ poor performance‚ or organisational culture). Programme evaluators find out if these programmes work and how to improve them so that they work better.

What are the minimum admission requirements?

Our students require existing knowledge of research design, research methods and both quantitative and qualitative approaches for rigorous empirical data collection and analysis.

In order to qualify for selection into the programme‚ you must have:

  • An honours degree or a four year professional bachelor’s degree at HEQF level 8.
  • Completed a component of quantitative research methods/statistics in your honours degree.
  • An average mark of 65% for your honours degree.

Please note that a bachelor’s degree or a postgraduate diploma is not accepted.

We accept students into the degree from a wide range of backgrounds – including economics, business science, public health, development studies, sociology, social work, psychology and the applied natural and sciences and education. Regardless of background, all students must have met the minimum admission requirements.

How do I apply?

Applications should be completed online through the UCT application system. Please click on the button below and follow the instructions. Applications for classes beginning in February 2019 close on 31st October 2018.  Late applications will be considered up to the 30th November by special request to the course convenor (please email Sarah.Chapman@uct.ac.za). However due to the amount of time required for visa processing, international applicants are strongly advised to apply by the 31st October. No applications will be accepted after the 30th November cut-off.

*  When you apply, be sure to select Faculty – Commerce, and then go on to select Master of Philosophy. From there – the option for specialisation in Programme Evaluation will come up.

Apply Here

You will have to up–load your honours degree transcript or equivalent with your application. A transcript is an official document from the university where you obtained your honours degree and should reflect your marks for this degree, and the specific courses or modules that you elected to take. Please do not upload copies of degree certificates or generic course outlines or curricula.

No other documents (other degrees‚ referees’ reports‚ intended dissertation topic‚ etc.) are required. Do not upload these.

Applications close on 31st October 2018.

Which Department and Faculty is the degree registered in?

The degree is registered in the Commerce Faculty and is administered by the Section of Organisational Psychology within the School of Management Studies. Graduates of this degree qualify with an MPhil specialising in programme evaluation. A background in organisational psychology or management studies is not a requirement for entry into the degree.

How does the selection process work?

All applicants who fulfil the minimum requirements and have submitted the required degree transcript will proceed to a selection process. Academic performance in the honours degree is the main selection criterion. Short-listed candidates and applicants might be contacted and requested to submit writing samples or other such examples of your prior academic work. Applicants will usually be informed of the outcome of the selection process during the first week of December, although earlier notifications may occur.

Please note that because of infrastructure and human resource constraints the selection process is highly competitive and offers are made to a limited number of applicants.

What does the degree consist of?

The degree consists of two parts: a 90-credit coursework section and a 90-credit research dissertation which are equally weighted (50/50) towards a final 180-credit degree mark.

The curriculum as a whole aims to show students how to 1) frame and tailor specific evaluation questions to a given programmatic context, 2) how to develop an evaluation design or assessment methodology suited to a particular set of questions, 3) how to adapt principles of research design and analysis to the specific assessment of a social programme’s implementation, outcomes and impact, 4) and how to analyse, present and interpret evaluation data and findings. We also provide students with an understanding of monitoring (tracking the progress of the programme) and programme theory (the way in which programmes change a problem or people).

BUS5037W   (Coursework)

The coursework aims to equip students with advanced programme evaluation knowledge and skills. The course consists of five compulsory modules comprising at least 55 hours of contact time. The first three modules are usually presented in the first semester and the last two modules in the second semester. At the discretion of the Head of Section some second semester modules could be offered in the first semester.

It is a requirement that students pass all modules in order to pass the coursework component.

  • Principles of programme evaluation

This module provides a systematic overview and introduction to theory-based programme evaluation and its methods. We focus on the logic of programmes and how evaluation tracks this logic, and explore different evaluation questions and consider questions of programme integrity and strength. Students are also taught the principles of stakeholder relations‚ user-friendly client reports and the ethics of programme evaluation.

  • Statistics for evaluation

In this foundational statistics course students are taught to identify and apply correct statistical procedures to the quantitative exploration of questions often important in an evaluation context. For example, did a group of programme beneficiaries significantly improve on an outcome after the introduction of an intervention, and if so – was there a different rate of change in an intervention relative to a comparison group? Is there statistically significant evidence of a causal effect of the programme on outcomes of interest? The course is structured to include both theoretical content and practical laboratory sessions using the SPSS statistical package.

  • Research design for impact evaluation

In this module we concentrate on what is required to building a causal (or programme impact) argument by means of research designs, in other words – what kind of research designs establish if the programme, and nothing else, caused observable changes in beneficiaries. Students are taught the different experimental and quasi-experimental impact evaluation designs and how to assess their strength, limitations and applications in different evaluation contexts. Critical engagement with published evaluations in a combination with taught content provides students with a thorough grounding in core principles of good research and evaluation design.

  • Monitoring using programme theory

Monitoring refers to tracking the progress of a programme. In order to do this‚ we need to understand monitoring terminology and be able to track programme implementation and outcomes over time. In specific instances we also need to know about local and global monitoring indicators or the monitoring requirements of funders as well as an appropriate (complementary) evaluation design. In this module students learn how to develop and apply a plausible programme theory (or an explanation of what works and what does not work in a specific field) to the design and operationalisation of monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Students will learn how to produce appropriate indicators‚ measures and standards for specific programme outcomes and track programme progress against these. In addition‚ students will be able to design a monitoring framework for programme implementation by formulating appropriate data collection questions for coverage‚ service delivery and programme organisation.

  • Advanced approaches for complex evaluations

This long module builds on the foundational content covered in the preceding modules and aims to put students at the forefront of the latest conversations about how we should assess programme impact. In the first half of the module we take an in-depth look at some of the more nuanced and innovative approaches increasingly used by evaluators to make causal inferences when randomised treatment allocation is impossible, or otherwise compromised. Methods discussed include the use of propensity-scores to aid in counterfactual estimation, the application of an instrumental variable approach to aid causal inference, and the use of advanced regression techniques to aid the analysis of panel, repeat measures or discontinuity-design evaluations. Practical sessions give students the opportunity to apply these principles to real data sets and/or evaluation problems.

In the second half of this module we take a step back from the largely positivist, quantitative position assumed in the first part of this module, and consider alternate (or possibly complementary) evaluation approaches to framing the assessment of programme impact. Approaches covered here include the use of qualitative methods in evaluation, applications of complex systems theory to evaluation problems, applying a valuing (including cost-efficiency) approach to the interpretation of evaluation findings, and techniques and merits of conducting an utilisation-focused evaluation.  We also consider recent thinking in the development of an Africa-centric evaluation theory of practice.

At the discretion of the Head of Section, modules may be added or withdrawn.

BUS5036S and BUS5050F (Research Report)

The research dissertation requires students to write a 20‚000 word evaluation of an existing social or people management programme. The research dissertation only commences at the start of the second semester (July of the first year of registration). The dissertation provides an opportunity to evaluate a ‘real-life’ programme and write it up as a client report. Students have to choose a programme that is being planned or that is currently running from a list of potential programmes that the course convenor has pre-identified. Students can if they wish also identify and approach a programme of their own choice as a subject of their dissertation.

In consultation with their supervisor and a client from the organization planning/running the programme, students formulate appropriate evaluation questions and levels. A proposal for the evaluation has to be presented to the Section and submitted to the Commerce Faculty Ethics in Research Committee by the end of the first year of the MPhil (i.e. December in the year of initial registration). Data collection and write-up is then ongoing through the first half of the following year. Students are required to obtain at least 50% for their dissertation. The dissertation component contributes 50% towards the final mark for the degree.

Is the degree presented on-line or on a part-time basis?

No‚ this is not an on-line course and it is not presented on a part-time basis. All students are required to be residential students at UCT for the duration of the programme. Please note that attendance at all scheduled lectures for the coursework is compulsory, and that you will be required to meet regularly with your supervisor over the dissertation period. This compulsory attendance requirement is strictly enforced.

Can I do this if I work full time?

A number of our students have successfully completed the MPhil degree while working full-time. The majority of classes are scheduled from either 17h00-19h00 or (occasionally) 16:00-19:00, two days per week – which suits people who work full-time. Students should be aware however that practical sessions may be on occasion scheduled during conventional working hours (i.e. before 17h00).

While it is possible to work full-time and complete the MPhil we should emphasise that the MPhil is not presented on a part-time basis. The coursework and dissertation components tend to put considerable demands on students who are also working full-time and for this reason we strongly recommend that working students acquire the support and buy-in of their employer and/or supervisors before applying for the degree.

How long is the programme?

The MPhil is an eighteen month full time programme. The coursework component for the programme starts at the commencement of the academic year (in February) and ends by early November. The dissertation component starts in July and ends by mid-June the following year. Thus for the 2019 intake you can expect to register and commence lectures in February 2019, begin work on your dissertation in July 2019, finish your coursework by the end of October 2019, and submit your dissertation by June 2020. Graduation, if all deadlines are adhered to, would usually be in December 2020.

Cost and financial assistance

Please go to the fees website and access the latest fees booklet. A copy of the 2018 fees booklet is here. In the booklet, check the cost of BUS5037W (Coursework) and BUS5036S and BUS5036F (dissertation modules in the first and second semester). Although fees are updated annually, to give an indication the 2018 fee for BUS5037W was R40 540 and the dissertation modules collectively cost R11 480 – and so the total cost of the 1.5 year MPhil was R52 020.

International applicants should check under the relevant section, International Students, for their fees.

There is currently no dedicated scholarship or bursary programme for the MPhil in programme evaluation. However, limited financial support is available to all eligible UCT students in the form of scholarships‚ bursaries and student loans. Please contact the Postgraduate Funding Office for more information (pgfunding@uct.ac.za). Please note that some scholarships require application by June of the year preceding your study year. You are advised to apply in June even if you do not know by then whether you have been selected into the programme.

International students should note that funding is limited and are advised to apply for sponsorship in their own countries.

Student housing

Should you want to know about student housing at Cape Town University‚ please contact res@uct.ac.za.

Estimated cost of housing for sponsors are available from:
http://www.students.uct.ac.za/students/fees-funding/fees/handbook 

Who should I contact if I wish to ask or discuss anything else?

Please direct specific questions to the course convenor Assoc. Prof Sarah Chapman: Sarah.Chapman@uct.ac.za or 021-650-5218. Please read the content of these FAQs carefully before making a general enquiry for information as specific questions are more likely to yield useful answers.