SANBI Masters Bursaries Opportunity 2021/2022

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) invites students to apply for a Masters Bursaries Programme 2021.

Bursary Application Closing Date: 13 November 2020

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is leading the implementation of the Living Catchments project (LCP) in partnership with the Water Research Commission through funding from the Department of Science and Innovation. The project was developed in response to the Water Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap (Water RDI Roadmap) which is a national planning intervention aimed at addressing water scarcity in South Africa over a 10-year period between 2015 and 2025.

The project responds specifically to address the RDI Roadmap’s Supply Cluster 3: Improve adequacy and performance of supply infrastructure by enabling collaboration, co-learning and co-creation among researchers, development practitioners, communities, traditional leaders and policy practitioners at the nexus of the built and ecological infrastructure for water security.

The primary aim of the Living Catchments Project is to establish better-resourced communities of practice that are involved with managing the built and ecological infrastructure within important water catchments. In support of this, the project also has an interest in strengthening the practice of policy engagement and the ways in which biodiversity is mainstreamed into the water sector.
The project intends to create a more resilient, more resourced, and more relational communities with the ultimate goal to create an enabling environment for integrating built and ecological infrastructure to support water security, economic development and livelihood improvement. The project will be implemented in the uMzimvubu, Tugela, Berg-Breede, and the Olifants rivers catchments.

SANBI is calling for applications for bursaries for Masters Studies to support the above mentioned project through strengthening research on formal and informal collaboration and learning platforms that strengthen water governance at catchment level. Only research projects in line with the Living Catchment project will be considered.  Only full-time studies, with first registration in 2021, will be considered. Students must register at one of the South Africa’s Universities within or near the catchments (Berg-Breede, Olifants, Tugela and uMzimvubu catchments).


Candidates must be pro-active, enthusiastic, and interested in undertaking excellent research that can lead to transformative change.  These are only available to South African citizens and will be awarded in line with national equity targets. Students need to apply for university programmes themselves, preferably with the university departments identified together with priority projects, and the bursary is conditional upon them securing their placement in a postgraduate programme and having provisional acceptance from prospective academic supervisors, of which one should be from SANBI.


Bursary value (to cover living expenses and university fees)
Masters: R144 000 / year for two years, Project running expenses will be covered separately and will vary depending on the project.

Application procedure

Each application is to be accompanied by a standard application cover sheet – attached.

Applications are to include a letter of interest; full CV; certified copies of academic record/transcript and highest qualification; as well as ID and driver’s license; a project outline; two letters of academic reference; a letter from prospective supervisors indicating willingness to supervise and provisional registration from the university. Send all documents to [email protected] with “Living Catchments studentships” in the subject line.

Contact details
Project Leader: Living Catchments: Mahlodi Tau ([email protected]);
Application process: Ms René du Toit ([email protected])
If no response has been received within 30 days of the closing date, candidates may assume that their applications were unsuccessful. SANBI reserves the right not to fill these scholarships.

Clusters 1, 2 & 3 of the Living Catchments project (LCP)

Canditate that has an undestanding of the water governance at catchment level and seeking to pursue a research project around creating mechanisms for convening social spaces, fostering agency, enabling collaboration, co-learning and co-creation between researchers, policy practitioners, local communities and implementers at the nexus of water and ecosystems. Interests to work in the field of monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Candidates wishing to conduct studies within this bursary framework focusing on transformative social practice and social learning in the context of the Living Catchments programme of SANBI and partners working at the nexus of water and ecosystems. Preference would be given to applicants who simultaneously register for the Proteus/ELRC short course on reflective social practice at Rhodes University, but would be granted only upon acceptance to a Masters Degree programme. Students would also be expected to participate in Living Catchment Reference groups, and workshops/events/processes related to the social learning component of the projectSANBI is seeking two masters students interested in pursuing an area of study focused around policy advice and biodiversity mainstreaming. Particular areas of research include: Reviewing biodiversity mainstreaming in South Africa to date; Policy advice at the built and ecological infrastructure nexus (particularly as this relates to water); Mainstreaming biodiversity concerns in to the water sector ; New and emerging public policy approaches; How behavioural sciences could be applied to policy development and implementation.

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