Welcome to the web page of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Western Cape.It is with the greatest of pleasure that I welcome you to the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of the Western Cape. I wish you all, students and staff, a wonderful and blessed 2022.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FACULTY'S VACCINATION MANDATE
Regrettably, we remain mired in one of the strangest and stressful of periods in recent memory. But these unusual times also present me with the opportunity to congratulate you – the first-year students entering our faculty – on overcoming the almost-unheard-of obstacles that you have faced over the past two years of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. Finishing school and moving into university is exceptionally stressful at the best of times. That you have done so during a global pandemic, during which time you often had to take greater personal responsibility for your studies, is an achievement to be recognised and applauded. Over the coming years, when confronted with other obstacles, I want you to remember how much you have already overcome, and take strength from that.
You now find yourself in a faculty whose role in society – and by extension, your role – you should never forget. The COVID-19 pandemic has, once again, highlighted the importance of science and technology for the well-being of all people globally. Amid the confusion over the past two years, much of the world turned to the sciences for answers. By choosing the Faculty of Natural Sciences, you have taken the important first step in becoming an intellectual and scholar who can not only contribute to the growth and public life of not just our little Rainbow Nation, but the world. Only some 6% of South Africans hold university degrees. That makes us and, soon, you, a small but influential group. It is a special privilege that comes with certain responsibilities.
A short introduction to our Faculty. It houses nine academic departments as well as a School of Pharmacy, four research institutes, two research centres and two research units (links to each are below). Our 2022 academic programme will offer ten undergraduate degrees and one professional pharmacy degree. At the postgraduate level, the Faculty offers 12 honours degrees, one postgraduate diploma, and a number of master’s and doctoral programmes across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
Our Faculty boasts innovative and relevant learning and teaching programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. We aim to create an enabling environment for students that encourages their intellectual curiosity, and debate. In our Faculty you will find scholars who are recognised as national and international leaders in their fields, and who are actively engaged in ground-breaking research. As a Faculty we are committed to research that is relevant to the needs and challenges facing our local communities and our country as a whole, but also has a global impact.
The pandemic will remain a part of our lives for some time to come. Over the immediate months, we will be committed, however, to creating as many opportunities as possible for you to engage, face to face, with a diverse group of students and staff, peers and scholars who will inspire you to learn and grow. Many students on our campus, as has happened on campuses across the globe, have over the past two years been denied this vital experience. We hope that we can soon offer such opportunities again.
The Faculty’s friendly staff are welcoming and supportive. Please seek assistance if you feel lost or uncertain. You are part of a community. Believe me, you will not be the only student with what you think is that ‘dumb’ question. This is an institution of higher learning – it is our very job description to encourage the asking of questions. We are committed ourselves to equipping and graduating students with the skills that will allow them to address our society’s needs, from the ‘small’ to the immense (think our challenges with poverty and inequality). Our Faculty is equipped with some of the most state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology available in South Africa. We want you, as students, to benefit as best as possible from these.
American author Tom Brokaw famously said about the privilege, joys and responsibilities of being a university student and graduate: “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” So, remember to work hard during your time at UWC, but also to make friends and have fun on this journey. One day you will look back and be reminded what a wonderful moment this will be in your life. Do not waste it.
And once again, welcome to YOUR Faculty.
Professor Burtram Fielding
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.