School of Public Health, University of Western Cape (UWC)

Deadline for applications: 19th April 2013

A SARCHI Postdoctoral Fellowship is available from July 2013 in the area of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR). The Fellowship is linked to the newly established SARCHI Chair in Health Systems, Complexity and Social Change in the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape.

Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR)

As an emerging field Health Policy and Systems Research in the School of Public Health will focus on developing a comparative health systems approach using a complex adaptive systems approach and applying this primarily to the theme of chronic lifelong conditions (CLLCs).

In line with this focus the thematic areas of conceptual and methodological development for HPSR include the following critical and complementary themes:

  • Leveraging change in complex health systems: generating ideas about new approaches to leadership of complex health systems, recognising that health systems comprise a web of relationships amongst component parts, including organisations and individuals, that are situated within circles of contextual influences;
  • Harnessing tacit and experiential knowledge to health system development: exploring the important role of tacit and experiential knowledge in leading and sustaining health system development;
  • Catalysing multi- and trans-disciplinary inquiry to support health systems development: developing innovative concepts and ideas, frameworks and methodologies, drawn in particularly from the social sciences, to support both in-depth research and related teaching on health
  • System development and strengthening;
  • A research methodology that systematically uses a mixed methods approach to analyse the ‘how’ and ‘why’ and ‘for whom’ questions through methodologies such as realist evaluation and positive deviance analysis.
  • It is foreseen that this will create opportunities for engagement and
  • learning between experts from various disciplines contributing to the field, in particular the social and
  • management sciences, while continuing to engage with experts in disease-specific programmes and traditional public health disciplines.

Purpose of the SARCHI Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is to contribute to: the support of career development of an emerging health policy and systems researcher; the establishment of a community of practice around Health Policy and Systems Research, and to building this field in South Africa, other parts of Africa and with other partners, and the enhancement of the capacity of the UWC School of Public Health

This Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is available from 1 July 2013. The successful candidate will be required to register at the University of the Western Cape in January 2013. The Research Fellow will be expected to work closely with the head of the SARCHI Chair, Professor Wim Van Damme and his team.

Academic Criteria:

Applicants must

  • have citizenship of a sub-Saharan African country, be an expatriate African, or demonstrate commitment to future work in African health systems;
  • have achieved a PhD in the last five years in any suitable field, such as health sciences or social sciences;
  • not have previously held permanent academic positions: however, emerging researchers, or those who have previously primarily worked in university teaching positions, or who have held health systems management positions are eligible to apply;
  • show clear evidence of robust scholarly performance including a relevant publications record;
  • have some relevant experience, specifically a track record of interest in health policy and systems issues, preferably including research;
  • applicants will be asked to propose an area of work relevant to one or more of the themes above, and to show how their past research provides a basis for this proposed work and/or what additional activities are proposed to contribute to the HPSR community of practice; and
  • demonstrate English language proficiency.

The incumbent will not be expected to provide a service or services in return for the fellowship, although some academic activities, such as limited teaching or student support, may be required as part of the PDRF’s professional development;
The fellowship is tenable for one year. Renewal for a second and final year will however be considered depending on satisfactory academic progress and availability of funds. Renewals are not guaranteed.

Application Process

Applicants should submit the following documents:

  • A letter of application stating the applicant’s areas of expertise, research interests, academic qualifications and work experience (an academic CV including a list of publications).
  • Copies of full academic transcripts, including those pertaining to both the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Please do not include copies of certificates.
  • Names and contact details OR letters of reference from at least three referees (inclusive of two academics who have taught, supervised or worked alongside the applicant).
  • A four to five page research proposal: outlining the work to be done, the relevance to HPSR and specifically, relevance to the research themes above, and the potential contribution of the applicant and their work to the broader HPSR community of practice.

Closing date for applications: 19th April 2013

Contact details for submission of applications and for enquiries: Dr Shun Govender at

Selection of short-listed candidates will be made by the head of the SARCHI Chair and the Director of the School of Public Health in consultation with the Vice Chancellor (Academic) of UWC and the National Research Foundation

Notification to the successful candidate will be sent by end of May 2013.

The University of the Western Cape reserves the right to disqualify ineligible, incomplete and/or inappropriate applications.
The University the Western Cape reserves the right to change the conditions of award or to make no awards at all.

University of the Western Cape
Faculty of Community and Health Sciences
School of Public Health
Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535
South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 959 2809/2166
Fax: +27 (0) 21 9592872

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