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Business Management


This information document contains the broad guidelines of the Department of Business Management regarding its admission policy for masters’ and doctoral candidates, the supervision of the candidates, their examination and the conferring of the appropriate degrees.

This document must be read together with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s general rules for masters' degrees (G300-308) and doctors' degrees (G400-405).

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in general and the Department of Business Management in particular envisage achieving by means of MCom and DCom studies the general, intellectual and scientific development of students at the highest possible level. Such development involves the forming of professionals and researchers who can independently render a service at an advanced level in key areas and who can perform research.

To realise this general objective, the following are of importance:

  • The extension of knowledge with regard to specific fields of study, fields of interest, scientific opinions, paradigms and research designs.
  • The forming of independent thought and a critical disposition.
  • The development of research skills (formulation of judgements and findings, definition of objectives, formulation of problem statements and hypotheses, presentation of research results, interpretation of research results and the making of expert recommendations).
  • The communication and marketing of knowledge gained and research outputs.
  • The application and dissemination of knowledge and skills acquired during the study, in a regional and national context.



(a) Candidates are considered for masters’ and doctoral studies provided they comply with the University's general rules in this regard.

(b) Masters’ candidates who obtained their honours degree at NMMU, must have already provided evidence that they are capable of performing research and their honours treatise must have been of a high standard. As a further requirement candidates must have obtained an average of at least 60% in their honours studies.

(c) Candidates who have graduated from other universities and who have not passed a course equivalent to EBMM 4 (Marketing research) are obliged to study independently the EBMM 4 study guide and other references that the head of department may identify. Their study record must reflect satisfactory achievements.

(d) No master’s or doctoral candidate will be admitted without an approved research proposal.



(a) In order to register for a master's or doctor's degree the candidate must prepare a research proposal. The research proposal must provide an indication of the candidate's ability to identify a researchable problem independently and to utilise appropriate research methods to solve the problem and to record the research findings.

(b) The research proposal must contain the following elements:

  • An introduction indicating what has led to the study and the importance of the research.
  • The definition of the problem statement in which the problem statement is clearly set out.
  • The objectives of the investigation, ie the definition of the problem statement is systematised in terms of sub-objectives and, if appropriate, research hypotheses.
  • Details of the proposed research design and method, ie how the research problem and the variables of the investigation are going to be operationalised and measured.

Aspects of importance in the research design are the following:

  • the most appropriate research technique;
  • the population to be studied and sampling design;
  • method(s) of data collection;
  • method(s) of data analysis;
  • planning of written output; and
  • planning of deadlines.
  • Scope of the research.
  • Preliminary literature study used in the preparation of the research proposal.

(c) The research proposal is assessed by the departmental research committee chaired by the head of the department and consisting of other senior members of the department, before it is submitted to the Executive Committee of the Faculty (ECF) for approval.



(a) For a master's degree a supervisor is appointed and for a doctor's degree a promoter.

(b) The supervisor/promoter must hold appropriate academic qualifications and be active in the field of research.

(c) The minimum requirement is that a supervisor should have a master's degree and a promoter a doctorate, unless the Senate approves exceptions. The ideal is, however, that a supervisor should also hold a doctorate and that a promoter, in addition to having a doctorate, should have a proven research and publication record.

(d) A supervisor/promoter who possesses the relevant academic qualifications, but who will be acting as supervisor/promoter to a postgraduate candidate for the first time, will be assisted by a more experienced supervisor/promoter who has the relevant qualifications, as set out in paragraph (c) above.

(e) Lecturers who do not have the relevant qualifications as stated in paragraphs (c) and (d) above, can be appointed as co-supervisors/co-promoters.

(f) The supervisor/promoter of a particular candidate must be approved by the ECF.

(g) Deviations from these norms must be submitted to Senate for approval.




(a) After the prospective candidate has carried out the necessary liaison with the head of the department, a decision is made on the specific field of study in Business Management.

(b) The head of department conducts an orientation discussion with the candidate and decides provisionally whether the candidate meets all the requirements. The desirability of the proposed field of study is also discussed.

(c) The candidate must determine independently whether the proposed research has not already been conducted. Prospective candidates are expected to do a series of database searches (among others on ABI-inform and the SAS data basis) in the NMMU library. The library official will assist with the search provided that the candidate supplies him/her with a series of appropriate key words.

(d) Once certainty has been obtained about the proposed field of study and research theme, application forms must be completed for admission to the University as well as for admission to postgraduate studies. Applications are submitted to the Registrar (Admissions Section), after which the applications, together with the research proposal, are presented to the ECF for approval. The Admissions Section will insist that the research proposal first be accepted by the department and approved by the ECF before the candidate can be formally registered.

(e) Once the ECF has approved the research proposal and supervisor/promoter, the candidate may officially register for the degree concerned.



In the case of MCom and DCom degree studies a minimum of one and two years and a maximum of four and six years, respectively, are allowed.

In the event of a candidate expecting that the maximum period of study may be exceeded, a motivated request for the extension of the maximum period must be submitted to the ECF.

If the head of department and supervisor/promoter support the request, the period for finalisation may be extended by one year. Unless the ECF decides otherwise, the maximum period may be extended for both MCom and DCom degrees by not more than two years.

If, after registration a candidate as a result of exceptional circumstances cannot proceed actively with his/her research for a particular year, he/she may at the beginning of that year apply to be declared inactive for that particular year. A candidate must, however, renew his/her registration, but is exempted from continuation fees. In such a case the year in question will not be considered as part of the candidate's period of study.




The candidate and supervisor/promoter must both agree on matters such as the
accessibility/availability of lecturer during office hours during the academic year and
systematic and purposeful supervision.



The particular responsibilities of the supervisor/promoter are as follows:

  • Harmonising the field of interest and academic ability of the candidate.
  • Referring the candidate to experts in the field of the proposed research.
  • Identifying deficiencies in the candidate's research capacity.
  • Giving advice on:
    • Readings in the field of study (suitability and extent).
    • Research design (eg nature of the design, size of a sample, correct use of statistical tests and techniques).
    • Formulation of the problem statement, hypotheses and the title.
    • Planning and co-ordination of the progress of research.
    • Drawing up a general plan of the research.
    • Sections and appropriate staff in the NMMU library.
    • Taking notes and interpreting literature (cards/computer).
    • Carrying out empirical tasks, data analysis, presentation and interpretation of results.
    • Systematic collection of relevant information of a theoretical nature.
    • Planning and writing of the dissertation/thesis.
    • Reference techniques and compilation of a bibliography/list of references.
    • Guidelines for the technical presentation of the dissertation/thesis.
  • Carrying out administrative matters such as:
    • Keeping of a file in which the following are recorded: notes given, supplementary reading prescribed, books lent, dates on which draft documents are received and returned, etc; and
    • Giving verbal feedback after work has been evaluated, preferably accompanied by a written review of core recommendations or corrections on the drafts submitted.

Candidates may not send out any documentation bearing the name and logo of NMMU (such as questionnaires), without the approval of the head of the department.

In supervising the research it is the task of the supervisor/promoter to ensure that:

  • The research makes a substantial contribution to the scientific knowledge of and insight into Business Management/Management Sciences and provides proof of independent and original thought.
  • The dissertation /thesis is linguistically and technically sound.
  • The content is well structured in respect of:
    • the layout, division into chapters and how the content reflects the field of research in accordance with the set objectives;
    • the inclusion of schedules, eg questionnaires, computer programmes and other research documents; and
    • references such as a literature list and schedules.
  • The scientific processing of the contents is acceptable, eg systematisation and ordering, descriptive and explanatory analysis and interpretation, justification of statements and conclusions.

A candidate may not submit a treatise/dissertation for examining unless the supervisor/promoter is satisfied in all respects with regard to a candidate’s performance on the above matters.



The particular responsibilities of the candidate are as follows:

  • The selection of a provisional original theme and/or identification of a problem within the reference framework of a specific sub-discipline in Business Management.
  • Undertaking a preliminary literature study on research in general and the research in the field of Business Management.
  • The delimitation of the research field and formulation of a definition of the problem to be investigated.
  • Formulation of the objectives and (if applicable) statement of hypotheses.
  • Undertaking a literature study leading to the discovery, interpretation and evaluation of existing relevant facts, concepts and principles. This implies close liaison with the library and that the candidate is himself/herself responsible for tracing and collecting information. Furthermore, the candidate is responsible for the financial costs of procuring literature.
  • The decision on suitable methods for the proposed research, subject to the approval of the supervisor/promoter.
  • The interpretation of research data and drawing of conclusions and making of recommendations.
  • The writing of the research report.
  • Accepting responsibility for the linguistic and technical preparation of the dissertation/thesis.
  • Taking note of and carrying out the University/Faculty/Department's policy on postgraduate studies.
  • Being prepared to conduct assignments consistently and systematically, to produce original work and undertake directed self-study.
  • Being prepared to carry out recommendations as made by the supervisor/promoter to his/her satisfaction. If the candidate adopts a different standpoint, this must be motivated in writing, in which case the candidate personally accepts responsibility for the standpoint.
  • Being prepared to keep to appointments as agreed upon during the planning of the research programme.

Masters’ candidates must present at least ONE and doctoral candidates TWO colloquiums relating to their research. Invitations to the colloquiums are sent to members of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and other interested persons. Reading of a research paper at an approved conference, such as the National Productivity Institute (NPI/EBM) or the Southern Africa Institute for Management Scientists (SAIMS) may serve as a substitute for a colloquium.



(a) The supervisor/promoter and candidate are expected to adhere to the guidelines on the responsibilities of each party as set out in sections 3.2 and 3.3 of this document.

(b) In addition they must undertake to comply with the following:

  • The creation of a co-operative relationship where the supervisor/promoter acts in an advisory capacity and the candidate takes the final responsibility for carrying out the research task.
  • Complying with target dates as set out in the agreed programme.
  • Feedback by the supervisor/promoter regarding written sections of the report handed in must preferably be provided within two weeks of receipt or on a date agreed upon in advance.
  • The supervisor/promoter will not be expected to provide supervision and evaluation after official working hours, during recess periods or his/her leave periods.
  • The candidate personally takes responsibility for all literature being quoted in such a manner that he/she does not commit plagiarism, that sources are as far as possible of a primary nature and original, are correctly quoted in the text and are correctly noted in the list of references/bibliography.
  • Every six months the candidate shall provide the supervisor/promoter and the head of department with a written progress report regarding the research/study.
  • Records are kept of the decisions made during a consultation. Both the supervisor/promoter and the candidate sign it and receive a copy.


The general rules of the University apply to masters' and doctors’ degrees and must be studied in this regard.



For the purpose of the documentation of research the Department of Business Management has adopted the guidelines of Smit (1995). Masters’ and doctoral candidates must consequently buy the following publication:

Smit, G.J. 1995. Research: Guidelines for planning and documentation. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers.



The following are excellent research texts and well worth consulting:

Emory, C.W. & Cooper, D.R. 1991. Business research methods. 4th Edition. Homewood: Irwin

Huysamen. G.K. 1994. Methodology for the social and behavioural sciences. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers.

Huysamen, G.K., 1993. Metodologie vir die sosiale en gedragswetenskappe. Halfweghuis: Southern Boekuitgewers.

Sekaran, U. 1992. Research methods for business: A skill-building approach. 2nd Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Smit, G.J. 1993. Navorsing: Riglyne vir beplanning en navorsing. Halfweghuis: Southern Boekuitgewers.

Smit, G.J. 1995: Research: Guidelines for planning and documentation. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers.

Zikmund, W.G. 1997. Business research methods. 5th Edition. New York: The Dryden Press.