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Faculty of Natural Sciences

Welcome to the web page of the Faculty of Natural Science at the University of Western Cape.

At the start of the third decade of the twenty first century, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the University of Western Cape, The Faculty of Natural Science is 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 Science encompasses nine academic Departments and a School of Pharmacy, four research Institutes, two research centres and two research units. The 2020 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 hope to accommodate over 3700 students in the Faculty, of which, 780 will be first time entrants into university, and just over 28% 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. We plan to expand this programme in 2020. The Faculty’s young computer scientists continue to excel in national competitions and three of our students have been selected for the South African undergraduate computer cluster team to compete in the International Undergraduate Computer Cluster Competition to be held in Germany later this year. Cognisant of the university’s role in preparing young South Africans for the challenges and exciting opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the first cohort of students to graduate with a postgraduate diploma in E-skills Development (specialising in the immersive technologies of virtual and augmented reality) graduated at the end of 2019. Coupled with a recent overhaul of the undergraduate and postgraduate computer science programme, to emphasize 4IR technologies, there has been an increasing demand for places in our Honours and Master’s Statistical Science programmes specialising in data science. 
Applied research and innovation is a key driver of research across the Faculty.  From researching new ways to tap into alternative energy sources e.g. 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 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. 

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Welcome to the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Department homepage. The department was formed as an amalgamation of the former Botany and Zoology departments. Our location at the southern tip of Africa places us in an ideal position for field research into a host of interesting plants and animals.
The simplest definition of biotechnology is “applied biology” through the application of biological knowledge and techniques to develop products or services. It may be further defined as the use of living organisms to make a product or run a process. By this definition, the classic techniques used for plant and animal breeding, fermentation and enzyme purification are to be considered biotechnology.
Chemistry is often described as the central science because it touches all the other sciences.
Our vision is to provide innovative programmes in Computer Science, in order empowering our graduates to advance the quality of life in Africa.
The Department of Earth Sciences at UWC offers challenging opportunities in the nationally strategic areas of natural resources combining the disciplines of Applied geology, environmental and water sciences. These rapidly expanding programmes have established an international profile through teaching and research. Our research aim as a department is to study fundamental processes, and to investigate linkage between different components of the earth system (solid earth, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere).
The Department of Mathematics offers programs for undergraduate and post graduate degrees. We have established programs of fundamental research in mathematics, as well as research in various areas such as Mathematical Modelling, Financial Mathematics and Mathematics Education among others.
In the Medical Biosciences Department, we aim at training and developing scientists who will conduct research with a view to reduce the many lifestyle associated diseases. 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.
The Physics Department carries out physics and provides teaching programmes that will contribute significantly to the development of human capacity, science and technology in South Africa. The study of Physics at UWC produces holistically educated citizens who understand our rapidly changing technological world. Our vision is to see our graduates be equipped with the fundamental knowledge of physics, problem solving, life and communication skills.
Head of Department’s Welcome message:
Good day and Welcome to the Statistics and Population Studies Department at the University of the Western Cape.
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.
The Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics is headed by Professor Marla Trindade as Director. Recognised as one of the leading research units at UWC, IMBM forms part of the Department of Biotechnology. IMBM is dedicated to excellence in research and in the training of future research leaders. In addition, it contributes to the Department’s undergraduate teaching activities.
The Institute for Water Studies (IWS) at the University of the Western Cape was formed in 2009 with the goal of promoting research, postgraduate training, and outreach on water related issues through the collaborative efforts of UWC staff. The Institute for Water Studies aims to increase the understanding of surface water, groundwater, and ecosystems linkages and how water users are affected and affect these linkages.
South African Institute for Advanced Materials Chemistry (SAIAMC) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), established in 2004, comprises three distinct and closely interrelated programmes: Hydrogen South Africa Systems Integration Competence Centre (HySA Systems), PetroSA Synthetic Fuels Innovation Centre (PSFIC) and Energy Storage and Fluid Treatment Centre (ESFTC)
SANBI was founded in 1996 by Winston Hide, a South African computational biologist who returned from the USA.
The Inter-university Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy is a partnership of three South African universities, the Universities of Cape Town, of the Western Cape and of Pretoria. IDIA also has an industry partner in SAP.
Pharmacists play meaningful roles in the healthcare of people. They do this through emphasis on correct and rational use of medicines and related products. Pharmacists remain in high demand in the public and private sectors. The corporate part is expanding and the demand for pharmacists continues. This applies to South Africa and other countries of the world.
We all need to make the most of our environment and as an institution of higher learning.
Proteomics is the term that describes a multitude of tools and expertise used primarily to profile and identify proteins of interest in any organism at a large scale. Proteins of interests include biomarkers for certain diseases or physiological/developmental status. For example, one could use proteomics to investigate effects of pathogens on organ protein expression levels and patterns.
The UNESCO Chair in Hydrogeology was established in 2001 at UWC following the introduction of the National Water Act of 1998 by the National Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). As the chair mainly focuses on groundwater related education, research and outreach, the Centre strives to contribute towards sustainable utilization of groundwater resources in South Africa, Africa and the developing world.