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Interdisciplinary courses: International Tax Masters

About the International Tax Masters 


The University of Cape Town presents Africa’s first interdisciplinary programme fully dedicated to the study of international taxation.  The programme is co-presented and taught by UCT’s Faculties of Law and Commerce, in cooperation with the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD).  


The International Tax Masters programme leverages UCT’s uncontested geographical advantage as a gateway for global engagement in fiscal matters between the developed and developing worlds. 


The course work component of the programme also aids candidates in preparation for the following modules of the Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT) with the UK Chartered Institute of Taxation: Paper I, Principles of International Taxation; Module 3.03 Transfer Pricing Option. You can view more information about this here.


Programme outline


The International Tax Masters comprises a two year programme. Over the course of the 2-years students have unrestricted access to the IBFD on-line research platform and all UCT libraries.


Year 1:

During the first year, over two semesters from February to May and July to November, residential based courses are presented in Cape Town.  Lecture attendance is compulsory.

All teaching is undertaken by UCT academics with a legal and/or commercial background, by leading practitioners or by international guests.    

International Tax I

The first semester commences with an intensive full-time week of lectures presented by UCT academics and visiting staff from the IBFD.  The problem of double taxation and double tax conventions are introduced. Additionally, a number of topical areas may be covered (past topics included taxation of the digitised economy, international tax transparency, the role of the BRICS in international tax policy, Base Erosion and Profit Shifting).

During the remainder of the first semester, classes cover all aspects of double tax conventions.  Consideration is given to the OECD, UN and SADC Model Tax Conventions, the history of the international tax system, treaty provisions dealing with business taxation, investment flows, income of individuals, as well as more complex areas such as legal methods of treaty interpretation and key features of South Africa’s double tax treaty network.  

Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar discussion for which students are expected to prepare. 

International Tax II

In the second semester, specific aspects of double tax conventions are dealt with, including immovable property and gains, international shipping, non-discrimination, information exchange, double tax relief, dispute resolution under tax treaties, specialist clauses and recent tax treaty developments. 

The theory and practice of transfer pricing is taught, usually by an international visiting academic, during a block period. 

Other topics covered during this semester include international tax avoidance, taxation and human rights and selected aspects of South Africa’s international tax regime such as provisions for relief of double taxation and controlled foreign company rules.  In addition, international value-added tax issues are discussed.

Teaching takes the form of lectures or seminars, consisting of guided group discussions with a focus on case studies applied in a practical manner. 

Assessment of International Tax I and II takes the form of completion of written research assignments and, when presented, the moot court assignment.  Lectures are generally presented on Monday afternoons or in block periods. 

A Moot Court assignment dealing with an international tax case is usually presented in second semster, which comprises groupwork and oral presentation.  The programme convenors may also consider entry of a UCT team in the annual Leuven international tax moot competition co-organised by the IBFD and the University of Leuven, Belgium.

Year 2:

In the second year students perform independent research and draft a minor dissertation on an approved topic under the supervision of a programme convenor. Research proposals are generally required to be presented at the end of year 1 to the programme convenors. If practicable, students are allowed to conduct their research away from Cape Town during year 2.  

Throughout the two years, students are encouraged to participate in the activities of UCT’s Tax Unit for Fiscal Research and the local activities of the International Fiscal Association. 

About the UCT Tax Unit for Fiscal Research

The Unit is based in the Faculties of Law and Commerce at the University of Cape Town. UCT is Africa’s highest ranked university and among the top 200 universities of the world.  

The Unit is interdisciplinary, being formed by academics with a legal and commercial background.  Several large research projects, consultancy work for government bodies and private entities are all undertaken in the Unit.  

Academic staff associated with the Unit teach a substantial offering of tax courses across the Faculties of Law and Commerce, as well as organising and participating in conferences, seminars and public engagements.  

Programme convenors:

Associate Professor Craig West (

Associate Professor Johann Hattingh (

To apply:

Application is open to persons from any country with any background who have appropriate qualifications (NQF Level 8 minimum) and/or experience in the field of taxation.  Depending on background and experience, successful students may choose to graduate with either a Master of Commerce or Master of Law degree.

The deadline for applications is 30 October of the year preceding commencement of the programme.  

All applicants should use the Commerce programme code CM031FTX09.  Please visit