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The first year Life Science course is taken along with other basic science courses. From it you should know why and how organisms are classified, how they interact with each other and their environment. You will also examine important life functions, including how characteristics are transmitted to the next generation. 


Later you will learn more of plants and animals, possibly with some environmental science, biochemistry and microbiology incorporated.

The first degree is called a Bachelor of Science (Biodiversity and Conservation Biology) degree (BSc (Biodiversity and Conservation Biology) and takes a minimum of three/four years to complete.

First year modules


Cell Biology and Genetics (Life Science 141 or Life Science 151)

Biodiversity and Ecology (Life Science 142 or Life Science 152)

Second year modules

Plant Diversity Animal Diversity Animal and Plant Ecophysiology​
Evolution and Population dynamics

Third year modules


Animal Ecophysiology and Behaviourial Ecology

Ecology and Genetics Ecosystems, Biogeography and Macro-ecology Land-use and Conservation

What other degrees are there? 

  •   An Honours degree is a fourth year of study, and is sufficient for many technical posts.

  •   A Masters (MSc) degree, followed by a Doctorate (PhD) are invaluable for a professional career.  

Honours courses in BCB

The Honours programme consists of three core modules and a number of electives.

The core (compulsory) modules are:

BCB701 Project

  • A research project carried out under the supervision of one of the academic staff and presented as a mini-thesis. Projects will be offered once the year has commenced.

BCB702 Biostatistics

  • Introduction to basic statistical concepts, methods and software
  • The following topics are included: measurement of central tendency and dispersion, the normal distribution, the t distribution and comparison of means, calculation of 95% confidence intervals, basic analysis of variance, correlation and regression techniques, chi-squared tests, Mann-Whitney U tests and other non-parametric methods
  • More specialized topics in multivariate analyses may be included

BCB703 Scientific Methodology

  • Introduction to sampling design, research techniques, instruments and laboratory and field safety
  • Developing a project proposal and planning field research
  • Fieldwork, incorporating sampling, identification, and spatial quantification of faunal and floral groups
  • Classification and statistical analysis of data
  • Presentation of data as tables and figures
  • Reading and writing skills and interpreting scientific data
  • Preparation of scientific research for publication

Students also choose between the following electives:

BCB731 Cape Plant Diversity

  • Diversity and evolution of the Cape Flora
  • Biogeography of endemic families, genera and species
  • Conservation of Cape Taxa with special emphasis on Red Data Species
  • Modern species concepts and classification
  • Botanical nomenclature (International Code of Botanical Nomenclature)
  • Electronic keys and descriptive databases
  • Traditional versus molecular classification systems applied to Cape plants
  • Evolutionary and ecological processes maintaining species diversity
  • Herbarium curating techniques and Flora writing

BCB737 Plant Community Ecology
Please note that this module is field based and that places may be limited

  • Investigation of: Afromontane forest, Thicket, Renosterveld, Succulent Karoo, Fynbos
  • Analytical techniques applicable to the Fynbos biome
  • Review and synthesis of the relevant literature

BCB736 Biodiversity Information Management

  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote-sensing
  • Mapping using a Global Positioning System (GPS) and analysis of this data
  • Digitizing using online resources
  • Geostatistics and spatial interpolations for modelling point data
  • Use of spatial data to develop species distribution data and to define meta-populations and identify species with conservation-critical distributions
  • General internet mapping
  • Classification of satellite imagery (supervised, unsupervised and object-based approaches)
  • Development of principles of a biodiversity/taxonomic data base

BCB732 Marine Biology

  • Introductory physical and chemical oceanography
  • The role that the physical environment plays in shaping pelagic organisms: from individuals to communities
  • The natural and not so natural factors affecting the diversity and functioning of pelagic ecosystems
  • The role of biological interactions in structuring the communities of rocky intertidal habitats
  • The emphasis throughout, will be on southern Africa

BCB734 Plant Physiology

  • Plant growth analysis
  • Selected topics in the internal and environmental control of plant growth and development
  • Selected topics in plant ecophysiology and plant stress physiology

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