Research Institutes, Bureau, Centre and Chairs

Unisa undertakes research through a variety of endowed and research chairs as well as its institutes, bureau and centre, to find cutting-edge solutions to international challenges and Africa’s educational and developmental problems.


  • Institute for African Renaissance Studies (IARS)
    Located within the College of Graduate Studies, the Institute is a Unisa academic unit that undertakes African Renaissance Studies, using multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary paradigms. Its main activity is research, with special emphasis on academic publishing as well as postgraduate supervision.

    Over the past five years more than 30 African countries have had their electoral officials trained in this IARS programme. The Institute is also the home of the internationally accredited journal, The International Journal of African Renaissance Studies: Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinary.

    The IARS is led by Prof. Esther Kibuka-Sebitosi and the contact details are as follows, 012 320 3140 or email
  • Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI)
    The Archie Mafeje Research Institute for Applied Social Policy (AMRI) is a pan-African research hub conducting cutting-edge research, theory building and contributing to applied policy in the fields of power, knowledge and identity; decolonisation/decoloniality and Africanisation; land questions; agrarian issues and agricultural development; state, institutions and governance; inclusive development, poverty and inequality, and African families and social life.

    The institute is led by Dr Busani Mpofu, and can be contacted at 012 337 6032 or via email at
  • Bureau of Market Research (BMR)
    The Bureau of Market Research (BMR) was founded by Unisa as a research institute in 1960. Since its inception the BMR has been involved in socioeconomic research and investigations and maintains a database in a variety of fields.

    Prof. Deon Tustin is the head of the Bureau of Market Research (BMR), which can be contacted at 012 429 3338 or via email at

  • Institute for Corporate Citizenship
    The institute seeks to conduct critical academic research that influences and provokes business enterprises to change in ways that make them even more accountable to society. Through its research, the institute poses pertinent, often difficult questions about the role and contribution of business to sustainable development.

    The institute, which also creates platforms for information sharing and debate about corporate citizenship, has four active research programmes. These are the Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change, the Responsible Investment Programme, the Teaching Business Ethics Programme and the Information Security as Corporate Responsibility Programme.

    Prof. Neil Eccles is the head of the Institute for Corporate Citizenship. The Institute can be contacted on 012 433 4651 or at
  • Institute for Gender Studies
    The underlying philosophy of the Institute for Gender Studies is that raising awareness about gender is the only way to make progress towards eliminating gender-based violence, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination against women in the workplace and in civil society.

    The Institute promotes scholarship as a way of changing society in Southern Africa to make it more gender equitable, and investigates all aspects of gender studies by conducting theory led, multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary research.

    Prof. Deirdre Byrne is the head of the Institute for Gender Studies and can be contacted on 012 429 4940 or via email at
  • Institute for Open and Distance Learning (IODL)
    The Institute for Open and Distance Learning (IODL) is an academic unit of Unisa, charged with the responsibility to undertake pragmatic and reflexive research including the organisation of academic and professional research training programmes in Open and Distance Learning (ODL).  This is in response to the growing demand not only for qualitative higher degree qualifications and professional studies in ODL niche areas but also in strengthening ODL practice at Unisa by benchmarking it against ODL institutional practice globally.

    Housed in the College of Graduate Studies, the Institute for Open Distance Learning is headed by Prof. Mpine Makoe and can be contacted on 012 337 6178 or
  • Research Institute in Theology and Religion (RITR)
    The RITR was founded in 1975. As the Research Institute of the School of Humanities at Unisa we initiate, develop, manage and disseminate theological and religious research and its interface with society.

    Prof. Cornelius du Toit is the head of the institute and can be contacted on 012 429 4870 or
  • Institute for Science & Technology Education (ISTE)
    The Institute for Science and Technology Education (ISTE) promotes inter-college collaboration in the interests of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (MSTE). The Colleges involved are: College of Science, Engineering and Technology, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and the College of Human Sciences. As a result of this collaboration ISTE co-ordinates the integration, tuition and development of all modules of formal and non-formal MST Education programmes.

    Prof. David Mogari (Acting) heads the Institute for Science and Technology Education, which can be contacted on 012 337 6168 or via email at
  • Institute for Social and Health Sciences (ISHS)
    Resonant with the developmental objectives of a range of institutional, national, continental and global instruments, the Institute for Social and Health Sciences is centered on research, postgraduate training, knowledge brokerage and research translation, service and networking.

    As its name suggests, the ISHS enacts research that addresses priority developmental challenges and makes critically oriented contributions to the social and health sciences. The MRC-Unisa Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit (VIPRU), a flagship initiative housed at the institute, is focused on explicitly developing and documenting interventions that address the multiple drivers and complex dynamics underlying violence and injuries.

    Prof. Mohamed Seedat heads the institute which can be contacted on 011 857 1142 or via email at
  • Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI)
    The institute, a partnership project between Unisa and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, strives for the political, economic, social and cultural renewal of the African continent and its people. Its primary purpose is to train change agents and thought leaders that can effectively tackle Africa’s challenges. TMALI has designed courses in a number of areas relevant to the advancement and renewal of the continent, such as thought leadership for Africa’s renewal, the African political economy, good governance in Africa, policy making and analysis for Africa’s development, African feminism and the politics of international trade. Numerous students apply for admission to these courses every year and then undertake initiatives aimed at implementing what they have learnt in the institute.

    Former President Thabo Mbeki is the patron of the institute and Prof. Vusi Gumede is the Head of the institute. TMALI can be contacted at 012 337 6157 or
  • Institute for Global Dialogue (IGB)
    The Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) is an independent South African-based foreign policy think tank dedicated to the analysis of, and dialogue on the evolving international political and economic environment and the role of Africa and South Africa.

    Dr Philane Mthembu heads this institute and can be contacted on 012 337 6064 or via email at

    UNISA Research Chairs

    Please note that the 2019 Chairs will be annouced soon.

    Endowed Chairs

    Chair Type College Niche Area Chair Incumbent Email Address

    Brigalia Bam Chair on electoral Democracy in Africa

    Human Science The promotion of democracy, human rights and responsible citizenship Prof KJ Maphunye

    Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change

    Economic and Management Sciences Economic and environmental sustainability Prof G Nhamo


    SARChi Research Chair in Social Policy

    Graduate Studies Knowledge production and capacity building in response to the needs of South Africa and the African document Prof J Adesina

    UNESCO UNISA Africa Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

    Graduate Studies Innovation in science and technology Prof M Maaza

    SARChi Chair in Information and Communication Technology for Development

    Science, Engineering and Technology Innovation in science and technology Prof J van Biljon


    SARChi Chair in Law, Society and Technology

    Law Innovation in science and technology / The promotion of democracy, human rights and responsible citizenship Prof T Pistorius


    Last modified: Tue Jan 29 11:22:27 SAST 2019