HOME CONTACT US STAFF RESEARCH POSTGRADUATE STUDIES Dept of Viticulture and Oenology Faculty of AgriSciences Stellenbosch University


Postgraduate Applications for 2015 IS NOW CLOSED


Frequently asked questions


What does the IWBT offer to postgraduate students?

  • Visionary and industry-directed training, as well as multi-skills training by ad hoc short courses.
  • Exposure to cutting-edge technology and innovative research in world-class laboratories.
  • Financial support for full-time students.
  • Incentives to top students, e.g. overseas training and/or conference attendance

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Postgraduate programmes

The IWBT's postgraduate programmes in Grapevine and Wine biotechnology are unique to Stellenbosch University in South Africa and can be followed to obtain the following degrees HonsBSc; MSc; PhD.

778 HonsBSc in Wine biotechnology

Entrance requirements
A BSc, BScAgric or BEng degree that is accepted by the Senate with any relevant discipline as major subject, e.g. Biochemistry, Botany, Chemistry, Genetics, Physiology, Microbiology, Plant Pathology, Food Science, Viticulture, Oenology, Chemical Engineering, etc. Only students who have attained an average of at least 60% in these subjects in the final year will be considered for admission to the honours programme.

Programme composition
The programme comprises formal lectures, as well as seminar, independent study and experimental work in Grapevine and Wine biotechnology; supplementary study or competence in other subjects or specific topics may be required. The formal lectures will be presented as modules. The final mark for the modules will be determined by means of continuous assessment.

Programme content

771 Research methodology for grapevine and wine biotechnology (40 credits)
Project planning, communication and writing skills; oral presentation of research project proposal; carrying out experimental research; data processing; written reporting on and oral presentation of research results; writing and presenting a seminar.

Seminar: Honours students have to submit one typed seminar that has been written in the acknowledged scientific writing style. The written seminar is presented as a mini-review  and the oral seminar as a presentation at a subject congress or symposium. The use of visual aids (powerpoint presentation) is therefore a prerequisite. The evaluation of seminars is therefore done on the basis of the typed seminar (with the emphasis on the content, style and ability to select material from the literature), as well as the oral presentation thereof (with the emphasis on the content, use of visual aids, ability to logically convey information in a manner that will retain the interest of the audience throughout).

Practical project: The greatest emphasis is placed on practical laboratory work.  Students will work in a laboratory with daily supervision from senior post-graduate students and researchers. At the beginning of the year students present a project proposal during which a complete motivation and project plan is submitted. At the end of the year students submit a written report on their projects in the form of a scientific article and present an oral report.

772 Techniques in grapevine and wine biotechnology (25 credits)
General laboratory safety and etiquette, biological calculations; project planning; general molecular biology techniques and microbiology, as well as other relevant techniques. Winemaking techniques and introduction to oenology, including wine tasting.

773 Biotechnology of wine-related microbes (30 credits)
Isolation, identification and classification of wine-associated yeasts and bacteria. Fermentation biochemistry and kinetics; metabolic end products; nitrogen and sulphur metabolism during fermentation; fermentation problems; ethanol tolerance; fermentation bouquet and other volatile esters. Biotechnology of lactic acid bacteria; malolactic fermentation and microbial spoilage of wines. Techniques and targets for the genetic improvement of wine yeasts; legal, ethical and consumer aspects relating to the use of genetically manipulated wine yeasts. Role of enzymes in vinification.

774 Vine structure and the concepts of vine balance / Grapevine improvement (20 credits)
General viticultural concepts, including the vegetative structure and function; reproductive structure and development as well as integration into the establishment and management of vine balance in the viticultural system. Biotechnological aspects of vine plant diseases; molecular-genetic aspects of plant-pathogen interactions; use of recombinant DNA technology to genetically improve plants; techniques and targets for the genetic improvement of plants.

714 Chemical components of grapes and wine (5 credits)
General description of the chemical composition of wine.

Allocation of marks. A system of continuous evaluation is used to evaluate the students’ knowledge and level of proficiency. An examination will be written on completion of each module. Students must obtain a minimum of 50% for each examination, failing which a supplementary exam must be written. All modules must be passed, as well as a final mark of 50% achieved to pass the honours course.  A final mark of 75% or higher serves for a distinction (cum laude)

878 MSc (Grapevine and Wine Biotechnology)

Entrance requirements
An HonsBSc degree in Wine Biotechnology 778; or any HonsBSc, HonsBScAgric or BEng degree that is acceptable to the Senate. Students who completed a four-year Bachelor degree (e.g. BScAgric; BSc FoodScience, BEng) also qualify to enrole directly for the MSc degree.

Programme content
For the MSc degree, the student must do independent research on an approved topic in Grapevine and Wine biotechnology and submit the results in the form of a publishable thesis. Supplementary studies on specific topics may be required. The programme for each student is determined by the supervisor concerned. An oral defense is conducted.

978 PhD (Grapevine and Wine biotechnology)

Entrance requirements
An MSc degree in Wine Biotechnology; or any MSc, MScAgric, MEng or MScEng degree that is acceptable to the Senate.

Programme content
A dissertation on an approved topic in Grapevine and Wine Biotechnology that contains the results of original research is required for the PhD degree.  An oral defense is conducted.

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Postgraduate research projects

The IWBT has a well-established research programme that focuses on cellular and molecular biology and biotechnology of grapevine, wine yeasts and bacteria. The multidisciplinary nature of this research programme results in close co-operation with several departments at Stellenbosch University, as well as with other role players within and beyond the country's borders. All research projects of postgraduate students fall within this programme. More information on the research programme and different focus areas is available on the IWBT's webpage (www.sun.ac.za/research).

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Short courses

The IWBT promotes the development of our students, and therefore continually creates training and development opportunities for them.  The focus of these actions is to enhance the development of our students to encourage personal growth, as well as academic excellence.

The following short courses may be offered to the IWBT's postgraduate students on an ad hoc basis with the aim to equip them with core competencies to prepare them for the research field:

  • Basic statistics
  • Chemometric workshops
  • Oenology sensory training sessions
  • Laboratory safety course
  • Project management course (with focus on a scientific project)
  • Scientific communication and presentation skills

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Financial support from the IWBT

The IWBT may, at its discretion and subject to sufficient funding being available, award the following financial support to full-time registered students, if they have not been awarded any other external bursaries (The amounts indicated below were awarded in 2012 and should only be regarded as guidelines).

  • Honours - up to  R30 000 per annum (for one year)
  • Masters - up to  R57 000 per annum (for two years)
  • Doctoral - up to R80 000 per annum (for three years)

Bursaries are awarded in terms of the regulations of Stellenbosch University. In exceptional cases the IWBT retains the right to make adjustments to bursary supplementations depending on the total value of the bursaries awarded, as well as the performance of the student.

Other postgraduate bursaries (from Stellenbosch University)

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for competitive bursaries (e.g. NRF Free-standing Innovation, scarce skills Bursary; NRF Equity Bursary, US Postgraduate Merit Bursary, etc.) through the Office for Postgraduate Bursaries at:

Office for Postgraduate Studies
Tel. 021-808 4208
Email: Postgraduate Studies

Application and selection procedures

  • 7 September (South African applicants)
  • 20 August (International applicants)
  • Prospectus [PDF]

Application procedure

Firstly, complete an official University application form:

  • In person:  Mrs Ghafsa Gamiet; Administration A building, Room 2033, Van Ryneveld street, Stellenbosch, or
  • Electronic:  online application for South African applicants
  • Foreign students: online application for International applicants

Secondly:  Fully complete all sections on the internal application form. 

Please attach the following documents to your application (pdf/scanned-versions are accepted if submitted by email):

  • A certified copy of your academic transcripts (marks) [and English translation if in a foreign language]
  • Certified copies of degree(s) obtained. (Please note: If you have been, or currently are registered as a student at Stellenbosch University, the IWBT will request your academic transcripts from Administration. There is therefore no need to attach them to this application).
  • A complete Curriculum Vitae (only for master's and doctoral applications)
  • A copy of your ID/Passport documents
  • Foreign students, whose mother tongue is not English, are requested to complete a TOEFL test and submit the results to the IWBT.

Thirdly: Master's and Doctoral applicants are requested to nominate at least TWO referees and provide us with the contact details.

Selection procedure

Candidates are selected by the IWBT on merit and according to the following criteria:
undergraduate academic results, postgraduate academic results (if applicable); practical proficiency, and personal motivation.  Feedback from referees is also taking into consideration to evaluate an applicant.  All applications are subject to the availability of research funds and laboratory space. 

Students are firstly accepted provisionally if the current degree is not completed.  The students need to meet the requirements of the University after completing the current degree with an average of 60%, before they can be finally accepted for the postgraduate study.

You will receive an unofficial acceptance letter from the department, but you need the official acceptance letter from the University to register for your studies.

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Enquiries to the Institute for Wine Biotechnology

Ms Karin Vergeer
Postgraduate Coordinator
Tel. 021-808 3770; Fax 086 591 4338
Email: Postgraduate Coordinator

Enquiries to Stellenbosch University

  • Division for Admissions (Stellenbosch University)
    Mrs S Blanché
    Tel. 021-808 4515 (international +27-21-808 4515)
    Email: Mrs Blanché

  • Division for Accommodation (Stellenbosch University)
    Ms M Hendrikse
    Tel. 021-808 3892 (international +27-21-808 3892)
    Email: Ms Hendrikse

  • Division for Postgraduate Bursaries
    Tel. 021-808 4208 (international +27-21-808 4208)
    Email: Postgraduate bursaries

PAGEMASTER: Tel: +27-21-808 3770; Fax: +27-21-808 3771; E-mail: Pagemaster
LAST UPDATED: 16-Sep-2014