The Shark Research Unit is proud of the support it can offer graduate and postgraduate students aiming to conduct novel shark research and compleate their academic studies on sharks in South Africa. 

The Graduate Support Program is designed to allow the SRU to offer logistical and academic support to select students enrolled in research based graduate or postgraduate programs. This page offers and overview, checklist and conditions for aspiring graduate students who are considering applying to conduct research with the Shark Research Unit.

The Shark Research Unit has a limited number of opportunities to support postgraduate and graduate students on their research programs. To help guide you on you mission to work with the SRU, we have prepared a quick checklist to determine your eligibility. Please note, that even if if you are eligible, SRU retains all rights to offer support to aspiring graduate students.

Question 1. Have you been accepted into a graduate or postgraduate program?


Great – continue to Question 2


Action Required – Unfortunatly, it is a requirment that you first need to be accepted into a graduate or post-graduate program before exploring the possibility of joining the SRU Graduate Support Program. Please apply at your chosen university.


Please wait for an outcome before exploring the possibilty of joining the SRU Graduate support program. We recommend you reach out to a potential superviser at the institute you applied to and explore research possibilities. We are happy to field queries from any such academic supervisor.

Question 2. Is the graduate program located in South Africa (i.e. at a South African University)


Great – continue to Question 5


Great – We do accept students onto the graduate support program from international Universitities. There are, however, a number of additional steps to take to gain acceptance. Please proceed to Question 3

Question 3. Have you interned with the Shark Research Unit previously? 


Great – continue to Question 4


Action needed – To be considered for the graduate support program and be registered at an international university, we first require that you travel to South Africa and participate in our internship program for a minimum period of 2 month. Please apply to join one of our research internships.

SRU Internship programs

Question 4. Are you planning on collobrating with a South African institute other than the Shark Research Unit?


Great – If you are intending to conduct research in an Marine Protected Area or on a protected species (e.g. Great White Shark), then a research permit from DFFE is required – they will need to issue to a scientist from a South African university or recognised research institute (read Government). Continue to Question 5


Action needed – If you are intending to conduct research in an Marine Protected Area or on a protected species (e.g. Great White Shark), then a research permit from DFFE (Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) is required – they will need to issue to a scientist from a South African university or recognised research institute (read government). Consider contacting a South African scientist at a University. Continue to Question 5

List of possible academic collobrators and universities

Question 5. Have you, or your academic supervisor, got funding to cover parts of the research project not sponsored by the Shark Research Unit (research equipment, living bursary, running expenses)?


Great – Well done for achiving one of the most difficult hurdles of condcuting a research project. Please continue to Question 6


Action needed – Funding a project is one of the hardest steps to realising its potential. The support that our Graduate Support Program offers aims to make this journey easier. But for you to apply to join the Graduate Support Program, you are required to have in place some, if not all, of the additional funding for a project. Please talk with your supervisor about potential funding from your institute and applying for bursaries and research grants before continuing.


Action needed – We understand that gaining funding for a research program is an ongoing process and that all funding may not be in place for your project idea at this stage. If you have some funding in place, we welcome you to continue with your support request. This, however, is done on the understanding that full funding will be aquired prior to commencement of the project field research, and that no additional support (other than that offerred herin) will be requested from the Shark Research Unit.

List of possible academic collobrators and universities

Question 6. Will your proposed research project require a permit issued by the Department of Environment, Forestery and Fisheries? (check here: TOPS Permit


Action Required – Ensuring that you acquire a research permit is an arduous task. Your work may fall under one of the SRU’s existing research permits, but this is not guaranteed. In your application to the SRU please identify why you would require a research permit and we can determine if you fall under one of our existing permits or require a seperate application. If you require a separate research permit, then DFFE will require (a) a full project proposal, (b) ethics clearance and (c) a completed application form. They also appreciate only receiving applications during two time windows each year.

TOPS permit application – Link

Once you have investigated the application process for a research permit, and feel confident that you are eligible to receive it, then please feel free to apply to the Graduate Support Program

Graduate Support Program – Apply here


Great – Thank you for taking the time to complete this eligibility questionnaire. Please feel welcome to submit an application to join our Graduate Support Program.

Apply here

The Shark Research Unit provides the below support for students in the graduate student program. Aspects not provided need to be sourced independently by the student or their academic institute. 


Accommodation – Shared or dorm accommodation during your field research work  (maximum of 6 months/year)

Meals – Standard three meals provided for duration of time at the SRI research facility (maximum 6mnths/year)

Boat time – An agreed amount (see below) of boat time to conduct research in coastal waters

Office facilities – Office space, internet, printing and other required data and communication facilities that the SRI has on offer.

Academic support – Expert guidence and academic support from resident scientists at the SRU. This may, or may not, include formal supervision of a project.


Boat time – SRU will fund a maximum of 2 boat trips per week for a project. Additional boat time will be permitted at a set cost to a participant.

Additional boarding – If a participant requires staying longer than 6 months/year at the SRU facilities, a subsidised boarding (accommodation and meals) fee will be charged.

Not sponsored

Research Equipment – All specialised research equipment (exlcuding equipment the SRU has existing access to) must be secured independently.

Research running costs – All running expenses for the project, (excluding boat time), must be secured independently.

Living grant – Personal bursaries to cover living expenses (excluding meals and accommodation) must be secured independently.

Research permits / ethics clearance – Participants must apply and obtain research permissions and ethics clearances independently through their home academic institutes.

International and Local Transfers / Flights – Transport costs to and from the SRI research facilities must be sourced independently.

Travel / Medical Insurance – All participants must have independent travel and/or medical insurance.

Laundry – Participants will be required to cover costs for laundry services

Personal transport – Whilst at SRU facilities, graduates will need to arrange personal transport

Additional drinks and food – Any food and beaverages not supplied by the SRU is for the account of participants

Optional Addons

Single Accommodation – If single private accommodation is required, an additional fee will be charged at the participants expense. 

Specialised meals – If a participant requires a specialised meal plan, an additional fee will be charged to cover its preparation. 

Your commitments

As part of joining our ‘Graduate Support Program, you will have to fulfill a number of commitments during your time on the program (this is for the duration of your research project and degree). This commitments include:

Monthly Research Vlog

Present a short 2 minute video on your research and research progress. Included in the video blog will be your work with interns, sharks, life at the shark research unit.

Online Teaching lesson

Complete a 10 – 15 minute video presentation (and accompanying notes) outlining your research and taking the audience through the field research methods used to collect and process data. This video and notes will be used for online eLearning.

Intern Mentor

During your time at the Shark Research Unit, you will be required to have research interns accompany you on your field data collection trips. On these trips interns will assist in collecting data and you will be required to give guidance and instruction to interns as a mentor.

Maintenance and cleaning

During your time at the Shark Research Unit, you will be required to dedicate time to cleaning and maintaining all research equipment, office and laboratories, SCUBA equipment, vehicles, vessels and other logistics used in the daily conducting of the Shark Units research and conservation projects.

Social Media Updates

Send daily updates, videos and photographs of your work (via whatsapp) for posting on the Shark Research Units social media accounts.

Abide by SRU’s code of conduct policy

The SRU welcomes students, interns and scientists from all over the world to use and enjoy our facilities. To ensure that everyone is respected and feels welcome, the SRU has a strict code of conduct that applies to everyone working, visiting or residing at the SRU. Review our code of conduct here


Apply to join our graduate support program and gain access to conducting research on South Africa’s shark species


Join our team as a research, conservation and education intern. 


The Shark Research Unit is a passionate research and conservation institute located in South Africa. Our core purpose is to conduct and support original shark research, conservation and education programs within our regions of priority.  We achieve these goals through stratigic partnerships with marine scientists, postgraduate students, ecotourism operations and academic institutes. 





  • 182 Aalwyn Way
  • Aalwyndal
  • Mossel Bay 6520
  • South Africa

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