Postgraduate Programmes by Research

The following guidelines refer specifically to Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees done through research that lead to a thesis supervised by one or more experienced academic(s).  They set the procedure which a candidate who wishes to register for a higher degree (MPhil or PhD) in the Faculty of Applied Sciences is expected to follow.  These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the regulations for higher degrees..
Higher Degrees Project Proposal Guidelines

A prospective candidate for an MPhil degree should be normally a holder of a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in the First or Upper Second Division whilst a prospective candidate for a PhD should be a holder of an MSc degree (Distinction or Merit) in the broad field they are seeking admission into.

Research Topic Identification
  • The candidate should have an idea or a research topic and must identify a Department that is relevant to the subject matter.   
  • The candidate must discuss the idea with the Department’s Chairperson and Professor in the first instance. The candidate must then read widely in the area around the topic. 

Project Supervision

  • The candidate’s discussion with the Chairperson will lead to the development of the idea into a research proposal that has a title and (where possible)  hypotheses. 
  • The candidate may identify possible supervisors.
  • The Department will recommend a supervisor
  • Normally, there shall be two supervisors to each project, a main supervisor plus a co-supervisor.  At least one of them must be on the academic staff list at NUST. 
  • The candidate may elect to have one or two associate supervisors chosen by virtue of their expertise in specific areas that the candidate wishes to investigate.

The Research Proposal Concept Note

Formulation of a Concept Note
  • A candidate is expected to produce a concept note of the proposal, which should be circulated to the Department through the Chairperson.
  • The Chairperson shall arrange for a seminar at which the candidate will explain to the Department the research proposal.
  • The Department will decide on the relevance of the topic and its acceptability to the Department and then advise on the prospective supervisors.


Contents of the Research Proposal Concept Note

The Research Proposal Concept Note should not be more than five pages long and comprise the following sections: 
  1. Introduction to the topic and why it needs research,
  2. Problem statement,
  3. Objectives,
  4. Hypotheses (where possible),
  5. Methods to be used in the data collection.
  6. Likely scientific tests to be used in the analysis and
  7. a list of the cited literature (Harvard referencing).

The brevity of this first proposal, is to enable members of the FHDC and the Academic Board (AB) to get the best chance to read it.   
Sections (i) and (v) are expected to be the longest, and jargon should be kept to a minimum in an effort to broaden comprehension of the proposal.

  1. Requirements by the Higher Degrees Committee
    Assuming the Department accepts the candidate’s research proposal, and that the candidate has presented a seminar, the following papers shall be forwarded to the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee through the FHDC
    (i) Completed Application Forms by the candidate:
    (ii) Application for Admission to Full-Time/Part-Time MPhil/PhD Studies
    (ii) Postgraduate Admission Application
    (iv) Minutes from the Department relating to the application
    (v) Research Proposal Concept  Note by the candidate
    (vi) Names of supervisors and their curriculum vitae

Faculty Higher Degrees Committee Expectations
In its deliberations the FHDC may return the proposal to the candidate, through the Department, for whatever amendments that may be necessary. Here the Committee is especially concerned with the clarity of exposition of the topic, the precision of the proposed title, appropriateness of the data collection methods and the statistics to be used, and correctness of the referencing system.  

The Committee shall also pay attention to the language, namely, spelling, grammar and punctuation.  Candidates should use UK English spelling in their work.

The Role of the Academic Board
When the FHDC is satisfied with the Research Proposal Concept Note and the proposed supervisors, it will recommend for  provisional registration of the candidate to the Academic Board - a Committee of Senate.                                                     
The Academic Board will determine the suitability of the research topic in the proposal and decide on whether the applicant should be admitted as a student or not.

Registration:  Provisional and Full Registration
The candidate shall be advised of the need to register as a student through an offer letter from the Senior Assistant Registrar, Admissions and Student Records Section.

The candidate will only be regarded as a student after successfully completing the registration procedures. 

Registration shall be normally back - dated to the date when the proposal was approved by the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee.

Submission of Full Project Proposal
The student shall submit a full project proposal to the FHDC within six months of his/her provisional registration.  This should be about 10-15 pages long, occasionally more.

The same sections as listed in 3.2 will be used, with the addition of sections on Literature review, and Justification of the research.  This long project proposal must be read and corrected by the main supervisor before forwarding it to the FHDC.

After acceptance by the FHDC, the proposal will be  forwarded to the Academic Board for full registration, together with a summary of 4-5 pages.

Upgrading from MPhil to PhD
A candidate with a Bachelor’s (Honours) Degree must first register for an MPhil .

A candidate may seek permission from the Department to upgrade to a PhD .

A candidate  may apply to upgrade the MPhil to a PhD provided she/he broadens the scope of the research to show greater depth of scholarship, and to turn it into an original and substantial contribution to the chosen field.  This should be done in consultation with the main supervisor. 

The candidate shall demonstrate the ability to carry out PhD research work by publishing at least one paper in peer-reviewed or recognized Journal. 

A seminar by the candidate shall be delivered to the Faculty at which the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee shall decide whether or not to accept the new proposal for upgrade and if so to recommend it to the Academic Board.                                                                                                           
An MPhil normally takes 18 to 36 months to complete by full time study and as such candidate will be allowed to convert/upgrade to PhD if their period of study still falls within the 18 to 36 months’ time.


Structure of the MPhil/PhD thesis for submission
This section must be read in conjunction with General Academic Regulations for Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

There are two acceptable ways of structuring a thesis for submission. The traditional way is to prepare it as one integrated, whole document, with one Introduction one Literature Review, one Study Area and Methods, etc.  The current way is to prepare the thesis as a series of chapters each of which may be a stand-alone portion of the thesis. NUST accepts both forms of thesis writing.

The greater portion of the work submitted must have been done after the registration for the M.Phil or PhD degree and consist of the candidate’s own account of research.

The thesis shall be written in English (UK spelling).

Work already published, including that published in joint names, may be included in the appendix of the thesis provided the main author was the candidate himself/herself and this has been certified by his/her Supervisor. A series of publications alone shall not be acceptable as a thesis regardless of their number.


General Structure and layout

The report shall contain the following:

The Preliminaries:

1.  Title page
The inner Title page shall bear the University logo in colour (no more than 25% of the page), the name of the University (font size-10 bold), the name of the Faculty (font size - 10 bold), the approved title of the thesis (font size 14 bold), the candidate’s full name (font size - 14 bold), and  an inscription “ A thesis submitted in fulfillment for the degree of …..” (font size - 10 bold) followed  by Department of …….., (font size- 10 bold) and year (font size - 10 bold). The outer Title page shall duplicate the inner Title page except that it shall not bear the            University logo.

2. Abstract
This should be short and informative. It shall cover what was done, what the results were and the conclusions or inferences that was reached.. It shall be on one page only and shall be single-spaced. There shall be no paragraphing in the abstract.

3. Table of contents
The table of contents appears soon after the abstract, it shall index these preliminaries in lower case Roman numerals. It shall index, titles of divisions eg Introduction, Literature review etc. and subdivisions of the thesis in Arabic numerals. Each heading shall be single-spaced and double spacing used to separate the headings from each other.

4.  Lists of Tables, Figures, Appendices and Abbreviations
These shall appear on separate pages following the Table of Contents. Each Table or Figure heading should be single-spaced with double space separating each Table or Figure heading from the other. No terminal punctuation is used.

5. Declaration
Each thesis shall have a declaration of where the work was done. If parts of the work was not done by the candidate, the reasons why it was not done by the candidate must be stated as well as where that part was done. The declaration page follows immediately after the abstract page followed by an Acknowledgement page.

The declaration may be of the form:-

I,  …….., declare that the work described in this thesis was carried out in the Department of……., NUST,  from (date) – (date).  This work represents my own work and has not been reproduced from someone’s work. Where use has been made of the work of others,            it has been duly acknowledged in the text.

Signed: ………………………….      Date:…………………

Student No:……………………...

6. Acknowledgements
This section shall due credit to persons who would have made significant contributions to the research e.g. supervisors, technical staff, financers, etc. No religious statements should be made in this section. Double spacing should be used for typing this section and should not be longer than one page.

7. Dedication
This section may come before the Title page. This may contain religious statements.


The Text
The text should be printed on International A4 size paper in Times New Roman, size 12 font, double spaced and right justified. There shall be a margin of 40 mm on the left hand side of the page to allow for binding and 10 mm on the right hand side of the page. There shall also be a 20 mm margin on the top and bottom of the page.

(i). Introduction
An introduction should describe the background of the project i.e. historical and theoretical background, the scope of the project, the objectives of the project defining the current problem to be investigated and the hypothesis of the project (where applicable).

Literature review
The literature review presents the relevant theory and up-to-date knowledge  available in the literature related to the problem. Appropriate sections and sub-sections dealing different aspects of the work may be required here.

(ii). Materials and Methods
The methods used shall described in sufficient detail such that another worker of similar competency could repeat the work. (In the Sciences, experimental methods detailing the analytical methods and laboratory techniques should be detailed. Do not list apparatus used but mention them in the text. It is useful to identify equipment used down to the model.). Statistical methods used in the study shall also be included here.

(iii). Results
The results should be a factual description of experimental data generated through observation and measurement by the candidate. The results should not be cluttered by an attempt to interpret or discuss them. Tables and Figures should have headings which fully describe their contents and should not duplicate each other. The headings of Tables should be written at the top whilst that of the Figures should be written at the bottom. There is no limitation on the size of the figures/graph and tables but these should not spill over to the next page.

In quantitative work, it is important to show the degree of uncertainty and the methods used to calculate these should be mentioned here. Appropriate units for all quantities should be included here.

The Scale Rule that permits flexibility and rational convenience in stating quantities should be followed. When a quantity is quoted to two or more significant figures, the choice of unit should preferably allow its numerical component to fall between 1 and 100, but when only one significant figure is available, it should normally lie between 1 and 10.  For example, 32.8 mg rather than 0.0328 g or 3280 µg; and 10-20 plants m-2 rather than 100 000-200 000 plants ha-1 should be written. The student should familiarize himself/herself with multiples and submultiples for SI  units i.e. hecto, kilo, mega  etc. or nano, micro, milli etc. Words should be used for numbers up to ten and numerals for larger numbers (e.g. six metals were chosen and 12 fish sacrificed).

(iv). Discussion
This is the most important part of the thesis and should be treated as such. The results obtained in the study should be related to existing knowledge and interpretation and deductions drawn in a critical, objective and logical manner. Results should be compared with published or other available values for similar work citing the references.

(v). Conclusion
Often times, the study may not have conclusions as unsolved aspects of the study emerge. It is therefore pertinent to include concluding remarks in the discussion and also recommendations for further study. However, conclusions and recommendations can be stand alone sections.


The References      
Candidates  must adhere strictly to the following guidelines in listing their references. (List in alphabetical order; no numbering required). Use either full journal name or accepted abbreviation of the journal but be consistent and not use both. Each reference is single spaced but double spaces separate references. Punctuation should be consistent and should follow the system shown below.

(i) Citing in Reference list

(a) From a journal:
Chuma, C., Orimoogunje, O.O.I., Hlatywayo, D.J. and Akinyede J.O. 2013. Application of remote sensing and geographical information systems in determining the groundwater potential in the crystalline basement of Bulawayo metropolitan area, Zimbabwe. Advances in Remote Sensing, 2, 149-161.

(b) From a Conference/Workshop Proceedings:
Siwela, A.H. and Caley, A.D. 1989. Aflatoxin contamination of stored groundnuts in Zimbabwe.  In Aflatoxin contamination of groundnuts: Proceedings of the International Workshop, Hall, SD.  (Ed.). ICRISAT Centre, India. Patacheru, A.P. 502 324, India pp   59-63.

(c) From a book or book chapter:
Dhlamini, Z. 2009. Agricultural Biotechnology. In : Biosafety of Genetically modified Organuisms: Basic concepts, methods and issues. Chowdhurry MKA, Hoque MI and Sonnino A (Eds). FAO , Rome pp 1-50.

(d) From a book of Abstracts:
Ngwenya, N.R. 1994.  Physico-chemical, nutritional and microbiological changes during Marula (Slerocanya birrea) fruit juice fermentation.  East, Central and Southern Africa Food Science and Technology Conference.  20-22 September. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. pp 5.

(e) From a Thesis/Project:
Chiyaka, C. 2007. Development and analysis of mathematical models of the immunoepidemiology of malaria. PhD. thesis, National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe. 272 pp.

(f) From the world wide web/Internet page:
Mackenzie, K.S., Kubena, L.F., Denvir, A.J. ,Rogers, T.D. , Hitchens, G.D., Bailey, R.H., Harvey, R.B., Buckley, S.A. and Philips, T.D. 2003. Aflatoxicosis in turkey poults is prevented by treatment of naturally contaminated  corn with ozone generated by electrolysis [on line]. Available from: http//  [Accessed  17 April 2003]
NB. It is important to indicate the date of access.

(g) E-journal article:
Sturve, J., Stephensen, E. and Forlin, L. 2005. Effect of redox cycling compounds on DT- diaphorase actitivty in liver of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Comparative Hepatology, [on line] 4: Accessed 15 January 2007.
Insert page numbers as usual, if known.

(h) E-book:
Dronke  P. 1968. Medevial Latin  and the rise of European love-lyric.[On line]. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Available from: net library http:/ [Accessed 6 March 2008]. Insert page numbers as usual, if known.

(i) Internet Blog:
Rotheram, B. 2008 Straws in the wind. Sounds Good 11 June [Internet blog]. Available from: < _Goog/Blog/Blog.html> [Accessed 24 June 2008].

(j) Newspaper article:
Although it is generally discouraged to quote newspapers, often times the newspaper may be the only source of information.

Sunday News (or author if any) 2004. Government re-introduces DDT use for mosquito control. Sunday News (issue number or page if any) 10 January.

(k) References in text:
References in the text are cited as Black and White (1990) or (Black and White, 1990). A series of references in the text should appear in chronological order, e.g., (White and Black 1989; Black and White 1990; Black 1991).  References having three or more authors are cited Black et al., 1990.  References to papers by the same authors in the same year are distinguished by letters a, b, c, etc.  (e.g., 1988a, or 1990a,b,c). ).  Author’s initials should only be used when two or more authors being cited have the same surname and   have published in the same year, in which case they should be identified by initials in order to avoid confusion.  Publications having no obvious authors are cited as (Anon, 1990) in the text and bibliography.  At the end of the manuscript, references are listed alphabetically. No numbering is required. References with three or more authors should be placed in   chronological order after taking account of the names of the first and second authors. The candidate must ensure that references cited in the text agree with those listed in the    bibliography.

Secondary citing or referencing is discouraged but may be used to a limited extent. This is when an author cites a piece of work mentioned or quoted within another author’s work but has not actually seen the original source themselves. In the text cite both the original source and the secondary source where you actually read about it, using
the words ‘quoted in’ or ‘cited in’.

The appendices contain material that would clutter the text such as forms used to collect data, raw data such as absorbencies, calculations, derivations, notes, published papers submitted in support of thesis,  extensive computer output or other similar material.

Length of the thesis
The length of the thesis shall be determined in consultation with the supervisor but the following shall generally apply:

  • An MPhil thesis shall normally be between 80 and 100 pages long including the reference list but excluding the appendices.
  • A PhD thesis shall normally be between 100 and 200 pages long including the reference list but excluding the appendices.

Submission of thesis
Three spiral bound copies of the thesis (for easy handling) shall be submitted for examination.

Binding final copies of the thesis
The final thesis shall be bound in sky-blue hard cover, lettered boldly in gold down the back or spine indicating the degree (starting 20 cm from the top edge) name (centre of spine)  and year (ending 20 cm from the bottom edge). The sky-blue front cover shall bear the title of the thesis at the top,  name of candidate in the centre and year at the bottom.

Four hard copies of the thesis and a soft copy shall be submitted to the Department for distribution to various sections. It is usually polite for the candidate to bind extra copies for supervisor(s) not forgetting himself/herself.