"Congratulations on the sterling work your consultancy continues to offer to raise awareness and build skills to address the inequities faced by marginalised groups like persons with disabilities." Dr Sabie Surtee, HERS-SA

A sample of feedback from students at our recent public Postgraduate Capacitation workshop:
- "Personally I have learned a lot and [am] going back home with [a] fresh mind. Keep it up Dr Layla!!!"
- "I really enjoyed her examples (real-life situations) that she used. It grasped my attention. I am much more positive after this workshop - I thank you."
- "The workshop was presented in an excellent manner and exceeded all expectations. I feel much more prepared for what I need [to] achieve with my own proposal & thesis."
- "I'm impressed!!! Wish you were my supervisor."

"Thank you for a wonderful workshop. I was just about to give up. I'm so motivated."




Photo courtesy of Thea Ngele, who is doing her Master’s in Public Administration (MPA), specifically looking at the throughput of MPA students at UNISA

“I am Denis, one of the  masters NMMU students who attended your workshops. Please be informed that l finished my dissertation in  May 2017 instead of  December 2017. Please be also informed that l have just had my provisional final examination results  and all 3 examiners had no objection to giving me 75% above for my dissertation. I owe it to your research workshops. Thank you so much, your workshops opened my mind  and motivated me in terms of research.”


“Facilitator [Dr Layla Cassim] made me enjoy learning about research. I have been put off in the past when I attended a similar course at a University by someone else, but this has restored my passion to do research […] Definitely one of the best courses I have attended. Thank you for your efforts.” – Researcher at the CSIR at our RICS (Research and Innovation Core Skills) workshop, 14-16 August 2013

“Many thanks, my whole perspective on the PhD has now lifted; I owe this to you.” – PhD student receiving one-on-one coaching from Dr Layla Cassim

About Us

Layla Cassim ERS Consultants CC specialises in offering a range of products and services aimed at the higher education, skills development, research and scientific/ pharmaceutical fields. Our core values are excellence in service delivery, driven by a strong social consciousness and commitment to social justice.
BEE status: 100% Black- and female-owned and -managed.



Dr Layla Cassim is a pharmacist by training, and holds a PhD (Pharmacology) as well as an MBA (cum laude).  She is the owner and managing member of Layla Cassim ERS Consultants CC, which specialises in providing support to postgraduate students and researchers.  Layla facilitates various research-related workshops at different universities and research bodies across South Africa, such as Stellenbosch University, University of Limpopo, Nelson Mandela University, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria, University of Zululand, Vaal University of Technology, CSIR, NECSA and the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.  She also conducts a number of public workshops for postgraduate students and researchers.  Layla also provides academic writing assistance and editing services, and has edited more than 250 theses, proposals, papers and funding applications across diverse disciplines.


Layla’s flagship product, which she has developed, is the Postgraduate Toolkit on DVD.  The Toolkit aims to assist postgraduate students across disciplines and at different levels of study to complete their research projects.  The first edition was launched in November 2011 and the second edition in August 2015.  The third edition of the Toolkit has just been launched (December 2017). To date, more than 4000 copies of the Toolkit have been sold and the product has received very positive feedback, both within South Africa and the wider SADC region.  The Toolkit has been launched at UNISA, Monash University, University of Johannesburg, Durban University of Technology and Vaal University of Technology, and has been exhibited at the National Research Foundation’s SA PhD Project conferences.



Promoting the Postgraduate Toolkit on CD, developed by Dr Cassim, at our stall at the NRF’s SA PhD Conference in Cape Town


Research and Work Interests

  • Postgraduate development
  • Pharmaceutical care, patients’ rights and empowerment with regard to health and medicines
  • Rational drug use
  • LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) rights, health and empowerment
  • Women’s empowerment
  • Skills development

After a four-day workshop with students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, March 2017 (photograph courtesy of Current Masunungure, who is doing his PhD at the Sustainability Research Unit)
After a three-part workshop with PhD students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, 2016 (photograph courtesy of Jean Pierre Togolo, who is doing his PhD in Sociology, focussing on migration changes in urban development in Yaoundé, Cameroon)


Workshop on Postgraduate Supervision at the

University of Pretoria, 15 May 2013


Dr Layla Cassim with Oholiabs Danladi Tuduks after a workshop at the University of Stellenbosch. Tuduks is doing his Master’s degree in practical theology, specialising in pastoral care and counselling.



Dr Layla Cassim with students at the recent Winter School for Postgraduate Students at Stellenbosch University (15-17 July 2014) (photographs courtesy of Frederick Adetiba, who is doing his Master’s degree in Sociology, specialising in corruption).


At our recent Spring School for Postgraduate Students (27-30 October 2014), held at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein. This was our largest ever public workshop (photograph courtesy of Zukiswa Dasheka, who is doing her Master’s degree in Nursing Science, looking specifically at breastfeeding practices among first-time mothers).


At a workshop at Stellenbosch University on 9 April 2015 with Eunice Iloh and Bawana Bawana (photograph courtesy of Eunice Iloh and Bawana Bawana. Eunice is an M.Sc. exchange student in the Department of Animal Sciences, Stellenbosch University, while Bawana is registered for a Master’s degree in Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering)

Follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook

news and forthcoming events

          • BREAKING: The THIRD edition of our Postgraduate Toolkit DVD has been launched! The launch was held at Vaal University of Technology on 30 November 2017. This third edition includes more than 230 new pages of content, as well as almost 20 hours of new voice recordings of me delivering PowerPoint® presentations on all ten chapters.  Entire chapters of the Toolkit have been rewritten and brand new sections have been added.  These include a 23-page Introductory section in Chapter 1, which lays the philosophical and conceptual basis that prepares us for the research proposal.  I have brought in new sections on the South African context and challenges being experienced in the higher education sector, as well as self-employment as a career option for researchers.  This third edition incorporates lovely examples that students have shared with me and stimulating discussions and debates that we have had over the years at my research workshops, which I run at various universities and research organisations across South Africa.  I have also brought in my observations and experiences in providing academic writing assistance and editing services to more than 250 researchers.The Postgraduate Toolkit remains a resource that assists students and researchers across different levels of study, from Honour’s to PhD and beyond, to successfully complete their theses and research projects and build a long-term research career.  The ten chapters of the Toolkit cover the entire research process, from how to write a research proposal, to applying for funding, understanding research design and methodology, how to write a thesis, how to publish a paper, project management principles in research and the student-supervisor relationship.  I have deliberately taken an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach when designing the Toolkit.  I have argued throughout the Toolkit that research needs to be socially relevant and ethically responsible; it needs to address the socio-economic and other challenges that we face in South Africa, on the African continent and more globally.  Extensive examples are provided to illustrate this. If we are seeking to decolonise education and research, then we need to critically evaluate why we are doing research, how we are doing it, who we are doing it for, who can benefit from it and what our ethical responsibilities are to our stakeholders.  In the Postgraduate Toolkit, we also look holistically at the postgraduate experiences; we focus on wellness, health and quality of life challenges.  This integrated approach is important in enabling students to address problems that could undermine their ability to achieve their research and other goals. Since the first edition was launched in November 2011, approximately 4000 postgraduate students in South Africa and across Africa have used the Toolkit. Order your copy of the 3rd edition now!
          • Tara Transform is assisting NGOs with fundraising efforts! More information.
          • Salona’s and my paper has been published in the South African Pharmaceutical Journal! The paper addresses a gap in the Children’s Act – this Act does not include pharmacists in the list of persons mandated to report suspected child abuse in SA. We therefore call for an amendment to be made to the Act, as pharmacists have extensive contact with children in the course of performing their professional duties and may thus come across incidents of child abuse and neglect.
          • Our Spring School for Postgraduate Students was held on 11-15 September 2017! This was our last public research workshop for the year, and was our largest public workshop in Johannesburg to date. Keep an eye out for the 2018 dates!
          • It was lovely to be on Morning Live recently with Peter Ndoro, to talk about our upcoming Autumn School:
          • BREAKING: Our Autumn School for Postgrad Students will be held on 15-19 May 2017! This workshop covers the entire research process, from how to write a proposal, to research design and methodology, thesis writing, publishing papers, mentorship and the student-supervisor relationship. Register now!
          • We are hosting the Human Resources Empowerment Summer School, from November 2016 to February 2017. This includes a whole host of HR-related workshops, ranging from mentorship to performance management and the use of social media for brand management. Register now!
          • Our 6th National Disability Imbizo was held on 29-30 November 2016 at the Joburg Theatre! Once again, we brought together key stakeholders to discuss issues related to the employment and wellbeing of persons with disabilities.
          • The Morning Live show on SABC2 profiled our Postgraduate Capacitation Campaign on 26 July!
          • Our Summer School for Postgraduate Students will be held on 1-4 November 2016 at the Joburg Theatre! This is a comprehensive, 4-day workshop that covers the entire research process, from how to write a research proposal, to research design and methodology, thesis writing, publishing a paper and the student-supervisor relationship. Register now!
          • CONGRATULATIONS! The 2016 winner of our inaugural Amina Sheik Osman and Hazara Bibi Maheter Research Capacitation Award is Ms Gugu Shongwe-Xaba! Gugu is a nurse with a very impressive public health background, who is currently enrolled for her PhD. She is looking at the barriers to breastfeeding in the Sedibeng District, and how to promote early childhood development. We look forward to working with Gugu over the next 12 months!avatar (1)
          • Our next Employment Equity and Human Capital Investment Seminar will be on 29 August – 14 September 2016. We tackle pivotal human resources and labour law challenges in the South African working environment. Register now!
          • Our Durban fundraising dinner for the PCC will be on 16 September 2016 at the Blue Lagoon Conference Centre! >PCC DURBAN Please join us!
          • Our Cape Town fundraising dinner for the PCC will be on 9 September 2016 at the Bo-Kaap Kombuis! PCC CT Please join us!
          • Jacaranda FM has profiled our Postgraduate Capacitation Campaign! Have a listen: Interview
          • BREAKING: We have launched our national fundraising campaign, which aims to provide every postgraduate student in South Africa with their own copy of the Postgraduate Toolkit on DVD! Click here for more information.
          • It’s official – we have formed our own running club, called Mercia’s Harriers Athletics Club, which is registered with Athletics Gauteng North. The club is named in honour of Meryl’s mother. We are welcoming new members – it’s not just for serious runners! Anyone who is interested in walking and spending some time outdoors is welcome to join! The vision of the club is to promote a healthy lifestyle and for people to have fun outdoors. Anyone interested in joining the club, please contact Layla at Lcassimers@gmail.com or Meryl at meryl.duplessis@gmail.com.
          • We are launching the Amina Sheik Osman and Hazara Bibi Maheter Research Capacitation Award
            in honour of my grandmothers. This award, made annually, is open to South African Black women over the age of 50 years who are enrolled for or contemplating enrolling for any postgraduate qualification. Further details
          • Our 2016 training calendar is available! This covers a range of human resources, labour law and skills development initiatives. Book now!
          • The 2016 price of the Postgraduate Toolkit on DVD (2nd edition) is R500-00 per DVD. There is a special discounted rate of R400-00 for staff/ students at the following institutions: University of Limpopo, Stellenbosch University, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Human Sciences Research Council. To order a copy of the DVD, please click here!
          • We were honoured to have a stall at the National Research Foundation’s recent SA PhD Regional Conferences in Polokwane (21-22 October 2015) and East London (12 November 2015). This was a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our Postgraduate Toolkit on DVD to a wider audience of researchers. See you at the NRF’s next conference in Bloemfontein (25-26 February 2016)!
          • Our 5th National Disability Imbizo was held on 22-23 October 2015! It was an opportunity for key stakeholders, especially from the mining industry, to discuss issues of importance in enhancing the employment of people with disabilities. This year, we were honoured to have two presentations by Dr Meryl du Plessis, who specialises in disability law.
          • BREAKING NEWS: The second edition of our Postgraduate Toolkit on DVD was successfully launched at our 4th National Postgraduate Development Imbizo on 11 August 2015! The second edition contains extensive updates and voice recordings of PowerPoint recordings of selected chapters. The Postgraduate Toolkit remains a ground-breaking resource to assist postgraduate students across disciplines complete their degrees successfully. Purchase your copy of the 2nd edition of the Postgraduate Toolkit on DVD now!
          • We have had a successful year of public workshops in 2015! Our Summer School for Postgraduate Students was held for the first time in East London in March, and we had a Winter School and Spring School for Postgraduate Students in Johannesburg, in July and October, respectively. These workshops cover the entire research process, from the proposal stage, to research design and methodology, thesis writing, how to write an academic paper and mentorship in the research context. Watch out for our 2016 public workshop dates!
          • Our associate, Dr Nozi Mjoli, will be facilitating an Enneagram workshop on 19 September 2015. This workshop helps you identify your personality type, for enhanced career success. Register now!
          • Our Human Capital Investment Seminar was held on 26-27 November 2014 and we had an exciting line-up of Human Resources and Employment Equity-related topics!
          • Our 3rd National Postgraduate Development Imbizo was successfully held on 11 November 2014. It was a day of robust discussion on transformation, supervision and how to increase research output in South Africa.
          • Layla recently spoke at the Healthcare Technology Assessment Conference on the use of technology for pharmacovigilance. We looked at the Codeine Care Initiative in South Africa, and some of its weaknesses.
          • African Solidarity with Palestine: Please sign this petition by African scholars and academics.
          • Exciting news! Layla has been chosen to be a module leader in the online STARS (Structured Training for African Researchers) programme, run by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Layla is responsible for developing the module on grant application and research proposal writing.
          • This is an excellent, must-read article by Prof. Andrea Smith on Heteropatriarchy & the Three Pillars of White Supremacy. Very relevant to South Africa.
          • Layla recently spoke at the Pharma Market Access & Pricing conference on how to design an Integrated Performance Management System to allow for the provision of pharmaceutical care, a key component of which is making medicines accessible and affordable to the public.
          • We are proud to announce a new addition to our website! The Labour & Social Security Corner contains writings on disability, social security and labour law by Dr Meryl du Plessis. Her first article that we are profiling is a recent one on the social model of disability and the right to education.
          • November is Diabetes Awareness Month! There are numerous runs and walks being held across the country to raise awareness of this condition, and the importance of exercise and healthy living in managing diabetes
          • Our Women’s Leadership Seminar was successfully hosted recently, on 12-13 September
          • NEW! Our highly successful Postgraduate Capacitation workshop has been expanded to a 4-day Summer School for Postgraduate Students, 11-14 November 2013
          • Dr Layla Cassim recently facilitated another RICS (Research and Innovation Core Skills) workshop at the CSIR, 14-16 August 2013
          • Our latest and biggest ever public Postgraduate Capacitation workshop was held on 26-27 June 2013. Students from the University of Venda, Central University of Technology, UNISA, University of Cape Town and Tshwane University of Technology all participated in this jam-packed workshop that looked at everything from research proposal writing, grant application writing, research design and methodology to thesis writing and publishing an academic paper.
          • The 3rd National Disability Imbizo was held on 24-25 June 2013
          • Our 2nd National Postgraduate Development Imbizo was successfully held on 13 May 2013
          • Nozi Mjoli bookDr Nozi Mjoli, who spoke on gender diversity in higher education at the Imbizo, has recently written a book, Embracing Gender Diverse Leadership for Innovation in the 21st Century. This important book can be ordered from www.publisher.co.za or directly from Dr Mjoli on nozimjoli@mweb.co.za

Research Methodology workshop, Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, 22-23 October 2012 Research Methodology workshop, Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, 22-23 October 2012

Current and/ or past clients include

            • University of Stellenbosch
            • University of Johannesburg
            • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
            • Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform
            • University of Pretoria
            • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
            • University of Limpopo
            • Academie Reformatoriese Opleiding en Studies (Aros)
            • University of Zululand
            • Vaal University of Technology
            • South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA)
            • South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
            • Association of Commonwealth Universities

Health Corner

Social Responsibility

Layla Cassim ERS Consultants CC is proud to support the following great individuals/ organisations/ movements, and commends them for the very important work that they do:

Layla is passionate about youth development, having compiled two youth anthologies, entitled “Celebrating Youth Awakenings” (Volumes 1 & 2), in 2000 and 2003, respectively.