The programme aims to develop add to existing knowledge on biodiversity, conservation, ecology, physiology and metabolism of tropical plants of basic and applied plant science. The Department has supporting specialist research laboratories in Molecular biology, and Tissue Culture, Plant physiology, which support lab based research. The Department also maintains the National Herbarium and several greenhouses and there is also lots of opportunity for field research.


  • To develop skills in research methodology and depth of knowledge in a specific discipline
  • To develop skills in critical judgement, problem solving, science communication and project planning
  • To train students for work in a research environment
  • To conduct research relevant to the region

 Entry Requirements

  • M.Phil.
    • BSc degree/major in Plant Science, Biology, Agriculture or related discipline
  • Ph.D.
    • Postgraduate degree in Plant Science or related discipline


  • M.Phil
    • Full-time: 2 years
    • Part-time: 3 years
  • Ph.D.
    • Full-time: 3 years
    • Part-time: 4 - 5 years

Programme Structure/Course of Study

The M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees primarily involve independent study, directed by one or more supervisors.  The programmes culminate with the presentation of a thesis conveying the results of the independent study and research carried out by the graduate student.

M.Phil students may be considered for upgrading to the Ph.D. normally during the second year, but not after the third year of registration, on recommendation of their supervisor(s).

M.Phil./ Ph.D. Thesis and Examination

All research degrees are examined by thesis.

In addition, research students will be required to pass courses amounting to a MINIMUM of

  • 6 credits for the M.Phil.
  • 9 credits for the Ph.D. degree

Graduate Research Seminars

M.Phil. students are required to present at least two seminars and Ph.D. students at least three seminars:

  • GRSM 7004 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 1
  • GRSM 7005 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 2
  • GRSM 7006 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 3
  • GRSM 8004 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 1
  • GRSM 8005 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 2
  • GRSM 8006 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 3

These seminars will be examined and graded on a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ basis. These courses may be used as a forum for these presentations which will be assessed in the manner prescribed for such “assessed seminars”.

Students are also required to attend a minimum of 75% of all Departmental/Faculty seminars. A Seminar attendance register will be kept by all Departments.

Upgrading of Registration

Postgraduate students who are registered for the M.Phil. degree and who wish to be considered for the upgrading of their registration to Ph.D. must apply to do so in the second year of registration on the written recommendation of their supervisor(s).

Applications for upgrading will normally not be considered after the third year of registration. A supervisor must state why he/she considers the student to be outstanding and whether in his/her opinion the work can be developed to the level of the Ph.D.

Applicants for upgrade must submit a written proposal outlining the work done to date and how they propose to develop this work into a Ph.D. and must defend their proposal for upgrading at an open seminar convened for this purpose.

All recommendations from Departments for Ph.D. upgrade registrations are subject to the approval of the Board for Graduate Studies and Research.

Defence of Thesis

  • For the M.Phil. degree the candidate may be required to defend his/her thesis by an examination.
  • Every candidate for the Ph.D. must defend his/her thesis by an oral examination.

A candidate who is unsuccessful in the examination for the Ph.D. may apply to the Board for Graduate Studies and Research for transfer of registration to the relevant M.Phil. and for permission to resubmit the relevant thesis or a revised version of it for examination for a Master’s degree. 

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