Scholarships for ACDI MSc/MPhil in Climate Change and Sustainable Development in 2015

Value of award: R70,000 per scholarship, with support for field research costs on case by case basis.


We are pleased to announce the availability of up to 3 scholarships to fund the completion of the MSc/MPhil specializing in Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Cape Town. This funding has been made available by the ASSAR (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions) research project. ASSAR is a 5 year, multi-institution, IDRC and DFID funded project.


Provision of funding is dependent on the following:

1)    Acceptance onto the masters programme in Climate Change and Sustainable Development; and

2)    Conducting a research project at an ASSAR study site and on a topic related to ASSAR.


To be considered for this funding you must apply (or have already applied) for admission to the MSc/MPhil in Climate Change and Sustainable Development, as outlined at, and in addition in your application:


1)    Mention that you are applying for funding from the ASSAR project; and

2)    Outline your research interest related to the work that ASSAR is conducting in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa (see below for more information).


Please note that ASSAR promotes the building of research capacity in Africa and applications from southern African nationals are particularly welcome.


The deadline for application is 31st August 2014.


More information on ASSAR and potential student research:

In southern Africa the ASSAR research project is being implemented by the African Climate and Development Initiative, at the University of Cape Town in partnership with the Universities of Botswana and Namibia.


The ASSAR research project aims to deepen understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid regions, and what is needed to transform current adaptation processes to modes that achieve proactive, widespread adaptation. ASSAR is funded through the IDRC/DFID CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research in Africa and Asia) programme.


ASSAR researchers will investigate: i) the drivers of vulnerability of different demographic groups in semi-arid regions; ii) the effective communication of useful and relevant information on climate change; iii) the effectiveness of different adaptation strategies at different scales; iv) the availability and utility of climate projections for determining potential impacts of climate change and potential adaptation options; v) the role of social, political, economic and governance factors in driving vulnerability into the future; vi) adaptation planning in the face of biophysical and socio-economic uncertainties; and vii) the barriers and enablers of effective long-term adaptation. 


Students are expected to conduct research that contributes to one or more of these seven research questions. Within these research questions, some areas of focus include transformative scenario planning, gender, rural-urban dynamics, ecosystem services, wellbeing, practitioner/policy relevance, capacity building, community of practice and the use of games and behavioral experiments.


It is expected that the student projects will be linked to case study sites in the semi-arid areas of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.


Key thematic areas in which students might work include:


Socio-economics, politics and governance

The ASSAR research project aims to develop an understanding of the critical regional and national-scale dynamics that affect the capacity of communities to adapt to climate change. This includes: i) identifying the main social, economic, political and governance factors that influence vulnerability to climate change in semi-arid areas; ii) assessing the historical trajectories, transnational drivers, national policies and local contexts that influence these social, economic, political and governance processes; and iii) examining how these processes are changing socio-ecological conditions and dependencies in semi-arid systems.


Under this research theme exciting oportunities exist to conduct research in: i) the effect of uncertainty in, and interactions between, economic development, poverty and climate change on vulnerability, decision making and the uptake of adaptation interventions; and ii) social and innovative learning including games and role play, including through the utilisation of participatory action research methods.


Climate and biophysical impacts

This theme will develop a system scale understanding of past and future regional climate and biophysical impacts. Research will include: i) reviewing climate processes that affect semi-arid regions and developing key climate change messages; ii) developing climate change scenarios and communicating key messages from these; iii) testing the utility of limited data quality for decision making; and iv) developing new biophysical impact scenarios for rural and urban research sites.


Under this research theme exciting oportunities exist in researching the effectiveness of communication of climate change information and the design of appropriate communication material.


Adaptation options and strategies

Effective adaptation approaches for semi-arid areas will be identified through the ASSAR research project. Research on adaptation will include an assessment of the: i) extent to which adaptation objectives shape governance approaches; ii) barriers and opportunities to implementing adaptation options between different scales (local to district to national level); iii) evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation; iv) understanding of the costs and benefits of climate adaptation; and v) sharing of adaptation knowledge across geographical regions.


Under this research theme exciting oportunities exist in transformative scenario planning, using novel multi-stakeholder, participatory methods (co-exploration, gaming, behavioural experiments) to assess adaptation options, and investigating how to support adaptation across local, national and regional scales.