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Doctor of Philosophy: Theology (Ph D) 
49137  Doctor of Philosophy: Theology (Ph D) 
SGB Christian Theology and Ministry 
The individual Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary for each Learning Programme recorded against this qualification is shown in the table at the end of this report.  HEQSF - Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework 
Doctoral Degree  Field 07 - Human and Social Studies  Religious and Ethical Foundations of Society 
Undefined  360  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  Regular-ELOAC 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 091/21  2021-07-01  2023-06-30 
2024-06-30   2029-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of the Qualification is primarily to equip persons for vocations of teaching and research in various institutions, especially in theological institutions and universities, or for the scholarly enhancement of ministerial practice. This Qualification will create leading practitioners who contribute to the creation of new knowledge and the critique and communication of existing knowledge, in a particular discipline or specialized field of study or within an interdisciplinary framework. The Qualification meets the requirement that a significant, original and substantial contribution be made at the frontiers of a discipline or field, and that a high level of independent research capability be demonstrated through a peer-reviewed thesis of international standard, which should be publishable in some form, either entirely or in part. The Qualification will further equip graduates with knowledge, skills and applied competence in the field of study that should provide opportunities for continued personal growth, gainful economic activity and rewarding contribution to society.

Rationale for the Qualification:

The Qualification provides for the national and international need for scholars, educators, facilitators and leaders to educate and train graduates, to creatively challenge existing configurations of knowledge and to support the disciplines and relevant professions in theology. It therefore makes a substantial and original contribution to the generation of new knowledge, constituting significant adaptation, interpretation and application of existing knowledge. 

Learners who are allowed to register for this Qualification can:
  • Responsibly pursue independent research
  • Demonstrate awareness of the relevant conventions and guidelines for their academic purposes
  • Show awareness of the conventions of scholarship in the discipline under study
  • Integrate complex and specialized information from a variety of sources
  • Apply appropriate heuristics
  • Submit an appropriate research proposal in terms of language and style, documentation and argumentation
  • Perform a comprehensive and searching review of literature and primary sources
  • Write a fully-fledged dissertation (with references and a bibliography) on a theological topic. 



    Exit Level Outcomes

    1. Identify, understand, interpret, integrate, apply and communicate a body of new knowledge (original research) in interaction with existing knowledge (current state of research in the field of study)
    2. Apply logical, theoretical, analytic, creative and systematic thinking, effectively to solve a range of problems within a focused research context.
    3. Exhibit the ability to identify and address issues of ethical action and social responsibility in the field of research
    4. Apply principles of sound research practice in collecting, organizing and evaluating information in terms of a critical understanding of relevant research methodologies, techniques and technologies
    5. Be aware of, and be able to interact constructively with, multicultural and multi -faith communities, from a theological perspective
    6. Apply the insights of one or more disciplines to identify and critique issues of church and society

    Critical cross-field outcomes

    The critical cross-field outcomes indicated below are embedded and integrated in the specific outcomes of the Qualification as set out above.

    1. PhD graduates can identify, analyse, formulate, and solve highly complex problems of living, of individual, societal and ecclesiastical kinds, creatively, autonomously and innovatively with a level of expertise beyond the requirements of NQF level 8.3.
    2. PhD graduates can effectively lead a team, group, organisation and community and direct group output in tasks growing out of the field of research.
    3. PhD graduates can manage, organise and prioritise their activities and commitments responsibly and effectively so as to succeed in completing the research within the prescribed number of years.
    4. PhD graduates can collect, analyse, organize and critically evaluate information at a highly advanced and highly specialized level.
    5. PhD graduates can communicate effectively using visual and/or language skills in the mode of oral and/or written presentation, in an academical/professional discourse.
    6. PhD graduates can use science and technology effectively, innovatively and critically with a high level of expertise, showing responsibility towards the environment and health and well-being of others, in community, national and global contexts.
    7. MTh graduates can demonstrate a conceptualized understanding of the world as a complex set of related systems by recognizing that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation, and by acknowledging their responsibilities to those in the local and broader community.
    8. PhD graduates can analyze, reflect on and explore a variety of strategies to learn more effectively.
    9. PhD graduates can participate as responsible and leading citizens in the life of local, national and global communities and religious groups.
    10. PhD graduates can be culturally and aesthetically sensitive across the range of social contexts.
    11. PhD graduates can independently explore education and career opportunities by drawing on the expertise, knowledge, skills and attitudes they acquired in obtaining this Qualification.
    12. PhD graduates can innovatively develop entrepreneurial opportunities by drawing on the expertise, knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired in obtaining this Qualification. 

    Integrative Assessment Criteria

  • Identifying, analyzing and solving complex and highly advanced problems by drawing on their experience and theoretical knowledge
  • Using their knowledge and expertise to solve problems that expand or reconfigure existing knowledge
  • Contributing to solving problems in a specific research area in a original way
  • Communicating effectively the contents of the discipline and the result of the research
  • Expanding, redefining and reconfiguring existing knowledge within the broader context of theology
  • Showing that their research can be recognized as original contributions by experts in the field of study
  • Presentation of a substantial and well ordered dissertation, non-print thesis or port folio for submission to external examination against international standards

  • Generating, analyzing, evaluating and synthesizing information and concepts
  • Suggesting complex and advanced arguments within a major research area
  • Achieving a high degree of abstraction when analyzing and synthesizing information within an area of research
  • Attaining a high level of epistemological sophistication when reflecting on information within an area of research
  • Making sound evaluations on the basis of independently generated criteria
  • Writing up problem statements, aims and objectives, research designs, findings and conclusions in an appropriately academic manner
  • Applying theory to practice in the field of Theology
  • Showing critical acumen in evaluating sources, both primary and secondary material
  • Developing a logical argument
  • Displaying expert, innovative thought
  • Generating ideas at a complex level
  • Using and fully acknowledging the ideas of others
  • Clearly identifying, relating and evaluating conclusions and premises
  • Utilizing language competently in written and or oral conventions relevant to the discipline

  • Demonstrating a consideration of the ethics involved in research in the field

  • Demonstrating the requisite theoretical skills and learning strategies in an advanced level
  • Organizing a study plan
  • Engaging in effective time management
  • Evolving strategies best suited to the proposed research project
  • Offering sustained theoretical evidence to support independent thinking and decisions
  • Using scientific methods of investigation, testing and evaluation, appropriate to the field
  • Selecting research methods and technology to suit the needs of the research project
  • Drawing upon prior knowledge and personal experience as appropriate when investigating and analyzing the field of research.
  • Working in an interdisciplinary manner where appropriate
  • Demonstrating comprehensive knowledge of the field of research
  • Presenting material systematically in terms of language and style, documentation and argumentation
  • Employing a sound, accurate, self-explanatory and consistent system of reference and layout for the thesis in accordance with the specific field of study

  • Give a reliable account of the history and value of other faith communities
  • Analyse the impact of cultural and religious differences on inter and intra community relations
  • Be sensitive towards different cultures and religions

  • Use more advanced analytical skills to identify, explain and respond appropriately to issues of church and society

    Implied competence and range

    The programme leading to the award of this Qualification aims to develop learners who demonstrate:

  • A comprehensive and systematic grasp of a discipline's or field's body of knowledge with expertise and specialist knowledge in an area at the forefront of the discipline, field or professional practice;
  • An ability to participate in scholarly debates at the cutting edge of an area of specialization;
  • An ability to effectively present and communicate the results of research and opinion to specialist and non-specialist audiences using the full resources of an academic/professional discourse

  • A critical understanding of the most advanced research methodologies, techniques and technologies in a discipline/field
  • Substantial, independent research and advanced scholarship resulting in the (re)interpretation and expansion of knowledge which is judged by peers;
  • Advanced information retrieval and processing skills;
  • An ability to independently undertake a study and evaluation of the literature and current research in an area of specialization;
  • An advanced, searching and expansive critical refelction on professional theory and practise

  • Applying sensitivity in culturally diverse contexts related to the field of study
  • Recognizing social justice issues relevant to the field of study

  • An ability to apply knowledge, theory and research methods creatively to complex practical, theoretical and epistemological problems
  • Creative work with exegesis or other systematic approach
  • An ability to identify, conceptualize, design and implement research projects that address complex, ill-defined problems at the cutting edge of a theological discipline/field
  • The production of a thesis which meets international standards of scholarly/professional writing

  • An informed description and constructive relationship with other faith communities relevant to their field of study

  • The identification, analysis and appropriate response to issues in church and society (e.g. issues of race, class, gender, poverty, environment), from the perspective of one or more theological discipline

    Autonomy of learning:

    The programme leading to the award of this Qualification aims to develop learners who demonstrate:
  • A capacity to operate autonomously in specialized, complex ill-defined and unpredictable contexts;
  • Intellectual independence and research leadership through managing advanced research and development in a field professionally and ethically;
  • A capacity to critically evaluate own and other's work on the basis of independent criteria.

    Assessment Criteria for CCFOs

    Evidence in the form of written assignments and in the writing of a dissertation, will show that graduates can:

    CCFO 1.
  • Identify, formulate, analyse and solve complex problems of theological and biblical interpretation by consistently and creatively applying recognised exegetical methods in specific contexts and by critically evaluating other interpretations on the basis of independent criteria.
  • Approach problems of historical and systematic interpretation in theology by critically analysing theologies in relation to their respective cultural, economic, social and political contexts.
  • Address church and community problems autonomously by using creative contextual approaches.

    CCFO 2.
  • Indicate and evaluate the role played by colleagues in the conception and execution of their research projects.
  • Indicate ways in which the application of their research findings could make a constructive and effective contribution to a faith community and society at large.

    CCFO 3.
  • Design, organise and execute a research project, in consultation with a supervisor.
  • Demonstrate the requisite research, planning and budgeting skills to complete the project successfully.

    CCFO 4.
  • Demonstrate independent research skills in one theological discipline.
  • Employ a practical system of gathering, storing, retrieving and processing information, in order to make effective use of literature and other sources of information in their research.
  • Write a coherent and well-structured dissertation by integrating and processing information and insights from a wide variety of sources.
  • Use a recognised system of reference techniques and refrain from plagiarism.
  • Critically evaluate the key publications in their field of research and include a survey of such literature in their dissertation.

    CCFO 5.
  • Produce a coherent and well-argued written dissertation as well as a persuasive oral presentation of the research to specialist and non-specialist audiences using the full resources of academical/professional discourse.
  • Participate in scholarly debates in the area of specialization

    CCFO 6.
  • Use information technology (computers, word processors, databases, internet) appropriately and efficiently in gathering their data and writing their dissertations.
  • Relate their research to the urgent social, ecological and economic problems facing their communities in the context of globalisation.

    CCFO 7.
  • Show respect for personal, cultural, theological and religious diversity.
  • Conduct their research on an interdisciplinary basis.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive, conceptualized and systematic grasp of their fields of specialisation with expertise.

    CCFO 8.
  • Show evidence that they considered various research approaches/methods, and provide convincing reasons for the approach they adopted.

    CCFO 9.
  • Show and facilitate commitment to the well-being of society by developing well-informed ethical stances on community issues.
  • Play a responsible and constructive role in a faith community and society.

    CCFO 10.
  • Understand of the role played by cultural, political, social, economic and gender differences in their research.
  • Express respect for the diversity of theological and other opinions that exist in their fields of research.
  • Display intercultural competence in the execution of their research as well as in the formulation of their findings.
  • Cooperate meaningfully and respectfully with people of other churches, theological traditions and religions in the implementation of their research findings.

    CCFO 11.
  • Identify priorities and opportunities for further research in their fields of specialisation.
  • Argue options for further research.
  • Offer their expertise, skills, knowledge and research findings to faith communities and other organisations, with a view to possible employment and/or creating employment as a church, religious, or community worker.

    CCFO 12.
  • Develop the applicable skills of creativity, social analysis, interpersonal sensitivity, imaginative intelligence, emotional maturity, and community involvement, which could be of great help in finding or creating employment outside church circles. 

    The PhD Qualification standard is comparable to similar Qualifications from around the world with regard to outcomes and assessment criteria, the level of depth and complexity involved in the study process, and with due regard to notional learning time.

    The Qualification matrix and articulation of the BTh, Honours BTh, MDiv (parallel to MMin), MDip (parallel to PgDipTh),MTh and PhD degrees is particularly close to the existing practice in universities of the highest calibre in Australia and New Zealand (e.g. Flinders University, Otago University, and with some variations, Aukland University), as well as universities in Wales (Cardiff, Lampeter and Bangor), and the MTh degree offered through Serampore College of Calcutta University by theological institutions in India, and the MTh degree offered in Central and South American theological institutions (e.g. Escola Superior de Teologia in São Leopoldo, Brazil).

    While research doctoral programmes in many countries are designated Doctor of Theology, the SAQA degree framework is specifically designated a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), to indicate its understanding of theological studies as located within the broad range of the human and social sciences. The Exit Level Outcomes of the PhD in Christian Theology are thus equivalent to those in all the other fields of the human and social sciences in South Africa. 


  • Providers offering learning towards achievement of any of the outcomes that make up this Qualification must be accredited through the relevant ETQA by SAQA.
  • Internal moderation of assessment must take place at the point of assessment with external moderation provided by the relevant ETQA according to the moderation guidelines and the agreed ETQA procedures.
  • External examination of the components for this degree, particularly the thesis component, must include moderation by recognized experts in the specific field of study associated with internationally recognized tertiary institutions.
  • Assessors registered with the relevant ETQA must carry out the assessment of candidates for any of the outcomes that make up this Qualification. 


    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    Notes for assessors:

    Learning and assessment are integrated. During integrated assessments, assessors make use of a range of formative and summative tools, methods and assess combinations of practical, applied, foundational and reflective competencies. Assessment must include both internal and external moderation of assessments at exit points of the Qualification. Moderation should also encompass achievement of the competence described in the exit level outcomes in the Qualification

    Assessors should keep the following general principles in mind when designing and conducting assessments:
  • Focus the initial assessment activities on gathering evidence in terms of the main outcomes to ensure assessment is integrated rather than fragmented. The aim is to declare the person competent in terms of the Qualification purpose. Take special note of the need for integrated assessment.
  • Make sure evidence is gathered across the entire range, wherever it applies. Assessment activities should be as close to the real performance as possible, and where simulations or role-plays are used, there should be supporting evidence to show the candidate is able to perform in the real situation.
  • All assessments should be conducted in line with the following well documented principles of assessment as defined below:

    Principles of assessment:
  • Appropriate: The method of assessment is suited to the performance being assessed.
  • Fair: The method of assessment does not present any barriers to achievements, which are not related to the evidence.
  • Manageable: The methods used make for easily arranged, cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.
  • Integrated into work or learning: Evidence collection is integrated into the work or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible.
  • Valid: The assessment focuses on the requirements laid down in the Standard; i.e. the assessment is fit for purpose.
  • Direct: The activities in the assessment mirror the conditions of actual performance as closely as possible
  • Authentic: The assessor is satisfied that the work being assessed is attributable to the person being assessed.
  • Sufficient: The evidence collected establishes that all criteria have been met and that performance to the required Standard can be repeated consistently.
  • Systematic: Planning and recording is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that assessment is fair.
  • Open: Learners can contribute to the planning and accumulation of evidence. Assessment candidates understand the assessment process and the criteria that apply.
  • Consistent: The same assessor would make the same judgement again in similar circumstances. The judgement made is similar to the judgement that would be made by other assessors. 

    LP ID Learning Programme Title Originator Pre-2009
    NQF Level
    NQF Level Min Credits Learning Prog End Date Quality
    NQF Sub-Framework
    24370  Doctor of Philosophy in Theology  St. Augustine College of South Africa NPC  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  360     CHE  HEQSF 
    15659  Doctor of Philosophy in Theology  University of Johannesburg  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  360  2023-06-30  CHE  HEQSF 
    111121  Doctor of Philosophy in Theology  North West University  Not Applicable  NQF Level 10  120       HEQSF 
    105240  Doctor of Philosophy in Theology  University of South Africa  Not Applicable  NQF Level 10  360     CHE  HEQSF 
    16870  Doctor of Philosophy: Theology: Greek: Semitic Languages  University of Potchefstroom  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  256  2009-06-30  CHE  HEQSF 
    73067  Doctor of Theology  North West University  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  360     CHE  HEQSF 
    73020  Doctor of Theology  University of KwaZulu-Natal  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  360     CHE  HEQSF 
    62454  Doctor of Theology  University of South Africa  Level 8 and above  NQF Level 10  360     CHE  HEQSF 

    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
    LP ID Learning Programme Title Accredited Provider
    24370  Doctor of Philosophy in Theology  St. Augustine College of South Africa NPC  
    105240  Doctor of Philosophy in Theology  University of South Africa  
    73067  Doctor of Theology  North West University  
    73020  Doctor of Theology  University of KwaZulu-Natal  
    62454  Doctor of Theology  University of South Africa  

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.