Welcome to the web page of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Western Cape.Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, which changed all our lives in March, 2020, the Faculty of Natural Sciences remains well placed to make a difference in an ever-changing global society with an exponentially increasing dependence on technology. In the past decade an investment of ca. R1.3 billion has been made in science infrastructure and research facilities in the Faculty. Since 2010 the Faculty has been the recipient of new, state-of-the-art Chemical, Life Sciences and Computational and Mathematical Sciences buildings and has been the beneficiary of an influx of high-end research equipment. Concomitant with this investment, the Faculty has been able to annually graduate record numbers of MSc and PhD graduates, and continuously increase its outputs of peer-reviewed research publications in national and international journals.
The Faculty of Natural Sciences encompasses nine academic Departments and a School of Pharmacy, four research Institutes, two research centres and two research units. The 2021 academic programme will offer ten undergraduate degrees and one professional pharmacy degree. At the postgraduate level the Faculty offers twelve different honours degrees, one post-graduate diploma in integrated water resource management and MSc, MPhil and PhD degrees in a wide range of scientific disciplines. This year we welcome over 4000 students in the Faculty, of which, 828 will be first time entrants into university, and just over 30% of the total number of our science students will be postgraduates.
The Faculty of Natural Sciences is committed to excellence in undergraduate learning and teaching and in 2019 staff members in the Faculty were the recipients of a Higher Educational Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa commendation for our Maths Turnaround Project, which saw a doubling of the success rate of our students in second year undergraduate mathematics. The success of this project continued in the online teaching and learning environment necessitated by the pandemic in 2020. The Faculty has also embarked on a new partnership with Learning Science UK in which we have introduced interactive online pre-practical simulations and “smart worksheets”. Earlier this year the Faculty, together with our colleagues in the university’s Centre for Innovative Education and Communication, were awarded an international teaching innovation award for our innovative roll out of the Learning Science programme.
Applied research and innovation is a key driver of research across the Faculty. From researching new ways to tap into alternative energy sources eg via platinum based hydrogen fuel cells, to the discovery of new commercially exploitable, “green,” biosurfactants (produced by bacteria collected from extreme environments), to developing a novel Y Chromosome test kit for identifying male perpetrators of sexual violence, the Faculty is making great strides in research and innovation with societal impact. The seven South African Research Chairs in the Faculty continually strengthen the international footprints of our premier niche research areas including, inter alia, radio astronomy, nanoscience, nuclear physics, material science (including sensor technology), metagenomics and health bioinformatics. Researching the consequences of global environmental challenges, like climate change, are also key research foci for many of our biologists, chemists and water scientists, while the ongoing exploration and beneficiation of South Africa’s abundant natural resources drives much of the multi-disciplinary research in the Faculty.
The News links on the Faculty Homepage are regularly updated and archived and provide interesting up-to -date a snapshots of what is happening in our vibrant and productive Faculty.
Finally, the availability of world class infrastructure and expensive research equipment is undoubtedly important to enable the accelerated success of the science research programme at UWC. However, it is the commitment and dedication of the academic and professional support staff, working together with enthusiastic under-graduate and post-graduate students, who are the ultimate architects of the Faculty’s success.
Thank you for visiting our web page.
Professor Mike Davies-Coleman
Dean of Natural Sciences
To prepare students, the Medical Biosciences programme teaches students anatomy, physiology and medical microbiology thereby providing an understanding of the structure and function of the human body, and how the body protects itself against disease.
Our Department revolves around two axes of teaching and research: Statistics with specialisation in Data Science and Population Studies. Two growing and important fields as data become more and more used everywhere and every day for planning purposes and to understand the challenges of our modern societies: from stock markets, medical research, economic forecasting to human populations.
Our role is to develop an awareness and understanding by reconnecting students with nature, to inspire them to find a new appreciation for their natural surroundings, thus having an important bearing on future decision-making by the same individuals.
As such, they introduced a dedicated postgraduate programme for training in nanoscience and nanotechnology.