Martin S Olivier

Supervising Postgraduate Studies

My responsibilities include supervision of Masters and Doctoral students. A list of my current and completed postgraduate students is available.

If you are reading this page because you are interested in studying towards a Masters or Doctoral degree, then read what follows. If you are still interested after reading it, please talk to me.

Who should consider postgraduate studies?

Are you the type of person who needs to finish something once started? Do you view your initial degrees just as the starting point of your studies? Do you have a desire to develop a deep insight into problems at the cutting edge of computing? Are you an academic achiever? Then you are the type of person who should consider studying towards a masters or doctoral degree.

Positions available

I have an extremely limited number of positions available for students who want to study towards such a higher degree. In order to increase synergy between my students I only accept students in very specific research fields. Currently I will consider applications in the following fields:

(You may be able to convince me to consider other aspects of digital forensics if you make a good case for it.)

Read more about my research aspirations for further guidance.

Bursaries are sometimes available for successful applicants; however, note that factors such as race, gender and national origin may unfortunately limit the options available to you.

Utility of studies

Potential students often ask how 'marketable' a postgraduate qualification is. The most marketable skill that is certified by a masters or doctoral degree is that of problem solving. The holder of such a degree has demonstrated the ability to take a non-trivial problem, analyse it, and solve it using scientific methods. This is a valuable skill in academia, the business world, and in life in general.

Remember that the half-life of any IT knowledge is about five years. The value of a degree primarily lies in these higher-order skills. However, sometimes such a degree also has more immediate benefits. The more immediate benefits of the topics that are listed above include the following:

Another benefit of the field of digital forensics also stems from the fact that the field is relatively young. This makes it somewhat easier to come to grips with the underlying field. It also enables one to develop a view of the entire field. This is typically much harder to achieve in older disciplines. And there is something inherently satisfying in knowing more about a field than just the narrow scope of one's own focus.

Most of our students have been able to present their work at international conferences. In addition to the joys of seeing unfamiliar parts of the world this also often helps you to begin to establish an international network of contacts which may prove very useful later in your career. (Of course we will have to see how the Covid-19 pandemic impacts on future conferences.)


I consider applications for study under my guidance each year at the end of September for commencement in January of the following year. An application should consist of portfolio in which you address the following:

In order to write the summary of the state of the art, you should concentrate your efforts on work published in the following proceedings and journals:


Note that this application process is merely intended to determine whether I will accept you as a student. To gain university entrance you have to follow the processes as set out in the yearbook of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology of the University. (Ensure that you look at the latest edition of the yearbook.) Also see the details provided by the Department of Computer Science. (Scroll down to MSc Computer Science or PhD Computer Science on the departmental page.)

My expectations

I expect that you will

Your expectations

It is highly recommended that you discuss your dreams of postgraduate studies with current students - amongst others to determine your 'compatibility' with the style (or lack thereof) of your intended supervisor. Also read PhD Comics with the warning that most of it is true.

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Last update: 1 March 2021