IIE Doctor of Philosophy in Brand Leadership - IIE Distance

Qualification information
  • COURSE: Doctorate; Postgraduate Degree
  • MODE: Distance
  • DURATION: 2 years Full-Time or 3 years Part-Time
  • NQF LEVEL: 10
  • CREDITS: 360
  • SAQA ID: 110825


The Independent Institute of Education’s (IIE) Doctorate of Philosophy in Brand Leadership is the first brand-specific doctoral qualification in South Africa focused on the niche field of Brand Leadership. It breaks new ground, both locally and internationally. The unique focus on Brand Leadership addresses a particular social and economic imperative – the need for innovation by brands with shared stakeholder value and values-based leadership to create developmental opportunities for communities, organisations and the environment. Graduates will extend the forefront of the academic discipline and research which aims at achieving immediate impact on professional and academic practice through the inclusion of unique African perspectives and local knowledge resources.

This is an entirely research-based qualification where the completion of a thesis is the final outcome, along with the preparation of an article for publication in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal.


The IIE Doctor of Philosophy in Brand Leadership aims to:

  • Equip students with advanced research and highly specialised knowledge within the field of Brand Leadership in order to make a significant and original contribution at the frontiers of this field.
  • Add depth to the ever-evolving field of Brand Leadership by guiding students’ research to produce new knowledge that will make a unique contribution in a developing society and within an African context.
  • Encourage a transdisciplinary research approach that surpasses a narrow conception of disciplines, thus ensuring engagement with complex, interlinked, practical and theoretical challenges in Brand Leadership through the application of specialist knowledge and theory in critically reflexive, innovative, purposeful and original ways.
  • Contribute new theories, innovative models and creative insights to produce scholarly research that is purposeful, challenge-led and responsive, thereby increasing the uptake of such research in industry practices and society.
  • Establish an advanced research culture and discourse competence via active participation in seminars that include the academic community and peers as well as business and community stakeholders and thought leaders.
  • Develop a profound understanding of the structures and forces that shape brands on the African continent and in a developing digital economy.

Mode of Delivery:
The programme is aimed at working professionals who need a flexible mode of delivery and the convenience of online engagement with supervisors. The mode of delivery therefore is distance learning and formal seminars will form an essential collaborative part of the programme. Remote access to various academic resources and support systems will be provided via the Digital Library and Research Commons.

Programme Composition:

  • The IIE Doctor of Philosophy in Brand Leadership consists of 360 credits at HEQSF level 10 and is an entirely research-based qualification where the completion of a thesis is the final outcome, along with the preparation of an article for publication in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal.
  • Before being formally registered for the IIE Doctor of Philosophy in Brand Leadership, each candidate will need to complete the IIE Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies. In this programme the completion and approval of a research proposal (including provisional ethics clearance) under the supervision of a dedicated supervisor is a compulsory requirement. Candidates are invited to attend a research proposal writing workshop and to join monthly discussion sessions with expert researchers and industry professionals.
  • Each candidate is required to participate in a research seminar to present their proposal to a panel of research experts and thought leaders. This is a valuable opportunity to sound board and discuss the research proposal before it is submitted to formal readers and The IIE Higher Degrees Committee for consideration. The final proposal is to be submitted within 12 months to the IIE Higher Degrees Committee which meets on a regular basis. The outcome of this programme is the completed proposal and provisional ethics clearance which, if successful, will enable the candidate to formally register and pursue their thesis with immediate effect.
  • Each candidate will be required to participate in advanced seminars at appropriate points during the study. One of the seminars must be delivered by the candidate to share concepts that are the products of their own research. Candidates will also participate in discussion panels of presentations by fellow PhD candidates.
  • Each doctoral candidate will be required to present their final thesis for deliberation by a panel of experts as well as their peers. Particular attention is paid to the candidate’s ability to demonstrate and argue the relevance and transformational potential of their research. Upon final submission of the thesis, and in order to graduate, each candidate must prepare a ready-for-publication research article that can be submitted to an accredited research journal.

Admission Procedures:

  • In line with admission requirements, applicants must submit their academic records and transcripts and a brief CV. Candidates who meet the admission criteria will be requested to complete a research Concept Document outlining their proposed study and the original contribution it will make to the field of Brand Leadership.
  • The Concept Document is submitted to three expert reviewers for feedback. More than one feedback and submission cycle may be required.
  • Candidates who are provisionally admitted will be invited to register for the Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies, and an experienced supervisor will be assigned to support the applicant in the development of the research proposal.
  • The Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies involves a research proposal writing workshop and includes an academic eSeminar in which candidates present their research proposals. Three formal readers are appointed to review the proposal and provide feedback. 
  • Upon further crafting of the proposal, candidates submit the final proposal to The IIE Higher Degrees Committee (October/November).
  • Only once the research proposal has been approved by The Higher Degrees Committee and provisional ethics clearance has been granted will candidates be allowed to officially enrol for the Doctorate and continue with their research under the guidance of the supervisor. The student-supervisor relationship and expectations will be governed by a Memorandum of Understanding as well as bi-annual progress reports submitted by both the candidate and the supervisor.
  • Once the candidate is officially registered, further dates will be scheduled at appropriate points in time for the candidate’s delivery of, or participation in seminars throughout the doctoral enrolment period (normally minimum 2 years full-time and 3 years part-time).

IIE distance delivery support includes

  • Online dissertation supervisors who guide students’ research design, development and learning.
  • A dedicated success navigator who supports students throughout the learning journey.
  • Access to our online information centre and resources. 

Tuition Fees

Pre-Doctorate registration: Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies - 1 year (compulsory)
R16 500 Full Settlement Total Fee 
R17 700 Instalment Total Fee (10 Monthly Instalments)

Doctor of Philosophy in Brand Leadership - per year for new registrations starting in 2024 (subject to an annual fee increase)
R31 500 Full Settlement Total Fee 
R33 120 Instalment Total Fee (6 Monthly Instalments)
R33 800 Instalment Total Fee (10 Monthly Instalments)

A *Pre-Registration Fee of R2 500 is included in the Total Fee
Deposit of R9 936 is included in the Total Fee for the 6 Instalments option.
*Refundable if admission criteria for the qualification is not met.

Please note:

  • Applications for the 2024 intake are subject to a non-refundable application fee of R400.
  • You will be required to complete a new contract annually which will include fees for that year.
  • Should a Doctorate qualification not be completed within the minimum completion time, the new annual fee structure at that point in time will be applicable for any subsequent years of registration that are allowed.
  • Returning students can consult the bill of costs on the website to obtain their 2024 fees based on their basket of modules.

Entry Requirements

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • An appropriate HEQSF Level 9 Master’s degree or equivalent.
  • Candidates with a background in Strategic Communication (including marketing communication, corporate communication, brand communication and public relations), Marketing, Business Management, Strategic Brand Management and other brand related fields, with an overall average of 65%, normally, will be considered.
  • All applicants who are eligible for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Brand Leadership degree are required to register for the Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies (PWDS021).
  • Successful completion of the Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies requires of applicants to complete and present a Research Proposal for approval at the Higher Degrees Committee.
  • In order to register for the Proposal Development for Doctoral Studies, applicants develop and submit a relevant Concept Document for review and acceptance into the programme.

Please note:

  • If an applicant meets the above requirements, registration is subject to faculty supervisory capacity.
  • The applicant has the right to request a written reason for any refused admission and may appeal to the Research and Postgraduate Committee in writing.
  • If the Research and Postgraduate Committee upholds the refusal, the decision is final. The candidate may re-apply in the following academic year if they have been able to address the issues concerned and The IIE may invite the candidate to reapply if a suitable supervisor is employed.
Jobs in this field:

The programme builds career pathways for professionals and academics interested in extending the forefront of strategic brand building and leadership