Postgraduate Toolkit DVD for Postgraduate Students, Supervisors and Researchers

By Dr Layla Cassim

During this time of lockdown in South Africa and many other countries, many postgraduate students and researchers have been wondering how they can continue with their research projects. Similarly, Research Departments and supervisors at universities are tasked with the challenge of making online support available to students.

In an effort to provide such support, I have decided to make my Postgraduate Toolkit DVD (3rd edition) available online. Students and supervisors can purchase online access to the Toolkit. Likewise, universities can also purchase a license to make the Toolkit available on their websites to their students.

My Postgraduate Toolkit was first launched in 2011, and over the last 9 years, three editions have come out, which have collectively been used by more than 7000 postgraduate students and researchers across Africa. 

The Toolkit covers the entire research process, from beginning to end. It is written in a simple, user-friendly manner and is aimed at assisting postgraduate students across disciplines complete their research projects, from Honour’s level all the way to the PhD and beyond, in building a long-term research career.  It covers a range of important and often problematic topics, from how to write a research proposal, to applying for funding, research design and methodology, thesis writing, publishing a paper, project management principles in research, mentorship and the relationship between student and supervisor.  Each of the ten chapters contains comprehensive written material and practical exercises, to encourage users to apply what they have learnt to their own research projects or practice.  There are also voice recordings of PowerPoint® presentations on all the chapters, to make the Toolkit more accessible and interactive.  The Toolkit will benefit postgraduate students, supervisors, post-doctoral researchers and anyone interested in higher education in South Africa.

The third edition includes more than 230 new pages of content, as well as almost 20 hours of new voice recordings.  Entire chapters of the Toolkit have been rewritten and brand new sections have been added. These include a 23-page Introductory section in Chapter 1, which lays the philosophical and conceptual basis that prepares us for the research proposal.  I have brought in new sections on the South African context and challenges being experienced in the higher education sector, as well as self-employment as a career option for researchers.  This third edition incorporates lovely examples that students have shared with me and stimulating discussions and debates that we have had over the years at my research workshops, which I run at various universities and research organisations across South Africa.  I have also brought in my observations and experiences in providing academic writing assistance and editing services to more than 300 researchers.

I have deliberately taken an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach when designing the Toolkit.  I have argued throughout the Toolkit that research needs to be socially relevant and ethically responsible; it needs to address the socio-economic and other challenges that we face in South Africa, on the African continent and more globally.  Extensive examples are provided to illustrate this.  If we are seeking to decolonise education and research, then we need to critically evaluate why we are doing research, how we are doing it, who we are doing it for, who can benefit from it and what our ethical responsibilities are to our stakeholders.  In the Postgraduate Toolkit, we also look holistically at the postgraduate experiences; we focus on wellness, health and quality of life challenges.  This integrated approach is important in enabling students to address problems that could undermine their ability to achieve their research and other goals.  

The 10 chapters in the Toolkit cover the following topics:
Chapter 1: How to write a research proposal
Chapter 2: How to write a grant application or funding proposal
Chapter 3: An overview of research design and methodology
Chapter 4: Guidelines on how to write a thesis and research report
Chapter 5: How to write and publish an academic paper
Chapter 6: Tips for oral and poster presentations of your research
Chapter 7: Key project management principles in research
Chapter 8: Some self-empowerment tools and support systems for postgraduate success
Chapter 9: The student, supervisor and university – enhancing postgraduate supervision
Chapter 10: Your Personal and Professional Development Contract (PDC)

If you would like to to purchase individual online access to the Toolkit, the cost is R500 ex VAT (=R575 in total). Please note that VAT is not charged for international payments. Please complete the order form ( and email it back to me so that I can generate an invoice for you.

If you are a supervisor or university and would like to purchase a license for a number of students to access the Toolkit, please contact me via email ( or phone (+27749995847) so that we can discuss a costing based on your number of students.

Yours in development,
Dr Layla Cassim

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