Your roadmap to the world of science

The Faculty of Science is a leading knowledge partner in the development of the scientific, technological and intellectual capacity of Africa and South Africa, and plays an active role in the development of South Africa and its people.

Step 1: Is science for me?

Is science for you?

I am ...

  • passionate about the natural sciences;
  • curious about the natural world;
  • always asking why, and how things work.

Taking your first step into the world of science

With a BSc degree, you have taken your first step into the fascinating world of science. Depending on your skills and interests, you can now build on this first degree by specialising in the field you are interested in, from a BSc Honours to an MSc and even a PhD.

Or you could diversify on your degree by registering for a postgraduate diploma in a related field, such as business, finance, marketing, journalism, agriculture, engineering or law. With a postgraduate certificate  in education, (and depending on you subject combination), you can teach school subjects such as Geography, Physical Science, Life Orientation, Information Technology, Mathematics, Life Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematical Literacy.

However, remember that a BSc degree provides you with training in the fundamental sciences. Therefore, you will have the ability to think critically when tackling problems, based on a solid knowledge foundation in the natural sciences. (Engineering and Medicine are examples of applied sciences)

A BSc degree will

  • Broaden and intensify your scientific knowledge;
  • Enhance your skills of problem solving, reasoning and scientific communication;
  • Provide you with a sound higher academic qualification as take-off for your professional career.

It is a challenging multidisciplinary course that focuses on the student’s level of understanding rather than just absorbing and memorising information.

Undergraduate BSc student

A BSc degree will open doors to many opportunities in the world of work, but more importantly, it is a way of thinking that is critical to take humanity forward.

Undergraduate BSc student

Step 2: What can I study?

What can I study?

The Faculty of Science offers nine degree programmes that can be grouped in the biological sciences, the physical sciences and the mathematical sciences. We also offer a BSc degree with curricula leading to interdisciplinary postgraduate options. Some programmes also have curricula-specific options, known as streams. Below is a list of the programmes and their additional streams, where applicable.

You can also visit www.maties.com and click on “What can I study?” for more information.

Degree programmes in the Biological Sciences

BSc in Biodiversity and Ecology

The programme focuses on the diversity, origin and function of organisms in relation to their environment and provides a conceptual understanding of animals and plants, ecology, evolution, biological changes on a global scale and remediation practices.

Majors

Biodiversity and Ecology (leading to specialisation in Botany or Zoology)

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 5 AND Physical Sciences 4

BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

This programme gives you the background knowledge to understand the functioning of any living organism at molecular level and lays the foundation for a career requiring knowledge and skills in molecular cell biology and biotechnology.

Majors

Microbiology, Biochemistry, Genetics

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 5 OR Mathematics 6 (depending on subject choice) AND Physical Sciences 4

BSc in Human Life Sciences

This programme provides the basis for understanding the functioning of the human body and mind, from molecular to systems level.

Majors

Stream Biology: Physiology, Genetics, Anatomy, Biochemistry

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 5 or Mathematics 6 (depending on subject choice) AND Physical Sciences 4

Majors

Stream Biology with Psychology: Physiology, Psychology, Genetics

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 5 AND Physical Sciences 4

BSc in Sport Science

This programme studies body motion from the physiological and biomechanical perspectives.

Majors

Kinesiology and Physiology

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 5 AND Physical Sciences 4

Degree programmes in the Physical Sciences

BSc in Chemistry

This programme provides students with training in the different fields of chemistry such as inorganic, organic, analytic, physical and polymer chemistry.

Majors

Stream Chemistry and Polymer Science: Chemistry plus a second major

Stream Chemical Biology: Chemistry and Biochemistry

Stream Materials Technology: Chemistry, Applied Chemistry

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 6 AND Physical Sciences 4

BSc in Physics

This programme provides students with the Physics knowledge, technical and specific scientific skills required within Laser Physics, Nuclear Physics, Radiation and Health Physics and Theoretical Physics.

Majors/Core subjects

Stream Laser Physics (Physical), Nuclear Physics, Radiation and Health Physics:

Physics plus a second major from Chemistry, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Mathematics

Stream Laser Physics (Biological): Physics, Biochemistry

Stream Theoretical Physics: Physics plus a second major from Mathematics, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 6 AND Physical Sciences 4

BSc in Earth Science

The programme focusses on the practical and theoretical training in geology and geo-environmental science.

Majors/Core subjects

Stream Applied Earth Science: Geology, Geographical Information Technology

Stream Geo-environmental Science: Geology, Environmental Geochemistry, Geography and Environmental Studies

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 6 OR Mathematics 5 (depending on subject choice) AND Physical Sciences 4

BSc in GeoInformatics

This programme focuses on the theoretical, methodological and practical aspects of geo-informatics, used to record digitally, manipulate, analyse, model and map spatial information.

Majors

Geographical Information Technology and either Socio-informatics or Computer Science

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 6 OR Mathematics 5 (depending on subject choice) AND Physical Sciences 4

Degree programmes in the Mathematical Sciences

BSc in Mathematical Sciences

This programme has eight streams and allows students to choose from a range of fields in the mathematical sciences, including Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Biomathematics, Mathematical Statistics, Financial Mathematics, Biomathematics, Abstract Mathematics and Operations Research.

Majors/Core subjects

Depending on the stream you choose, it will be at least one of: Financial Mathematics, Mathematics, Mathematical Statistics, Applied Mathematics, Operations Research or Computer Science, in combination with subjects from the mathematical sciences; or subjects from other disciplines such as Geographical Information Technology, Chemistry, Physics, Music Technology, Biodiversity and Ecology, Economics, Advanced Linguistics, Geography and Environmental Studies, Biochemistry, Genetics.

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 6 AND Physical Sciences 4 (if you take Physics or Chemistry)

BSc in Computer Science

Pending accreditation, to be offered from 2021. Will replace the Computer Science stream within the Mathematical Sciences progamme.

Majors

Computer Science and a second major from the Mathematical Sciences, or from other disciplines such as Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Geography and Environmental Studies, Biochemistry or Genetics

Specific admission requirements

Mathematics 6 AND Physical Sciences 4, if you take Physics or Chemistry

Interdisciplinary BSc degree

Typically, our programmes has a double major structure which prepares students for postgraduate studies in one of the two major subjects. However, the streams in the interdisciplinary BSc degree allow a more interdisciplinary approach that leads to multidisciplinary postgraduate options.

Stream Biomedical Mathematical Sciences:

Combines fields such as Engineering, Mathematical Sciences and the Biological Sciences, with postgraduate study possibilities in Physiological Sciences, Mathematics or Biomedical Engineering.

Majors: Physiology, Mathematics

Stream Applied Medicinal Chemistry

Combines Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences with Patent Law as third-year module. Postgraduate study possibilities in Physiological Sciences of Chemistry.

Majors: Chemistry, Physiology

Stream Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Combines Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Computer Science and Genetics on a multidisciplinary level, with postgraduate study possibilities in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology; and possibly also in Biochemistry, Computer Science or Genetics (with additional modules in an additional academic year).

Major: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

I expect to gain the skills and understanding of how the world works from a molecular level up to ecosystems. This will help me to effect change.

Undergraduate BSc student

A BSc degree helps to develop your cognitive abilities and to view problems differently.

Undergraduate BSc student

With a BSc degree, I am gaining scientific knowledge and the ability to analyse things objectively and critically, and how to apply this knowledge in the real world.

Undergraduate BSc student

It is important to keep on learning. Others cannot duplicate or reproduce your original work. If you want to be original, you have to become an inventor and build the foundation to the structure of your invention from scratch.

Marty Neumeier (20a14)

Step 3: Do I qualify?

Do I qualify?

NSC/IEB School-leaving Qualifications

  • You must have an average of at least 65% final school-leaving mark.
  • You must have obtained a minimum performance level of 4 for Afrikaans OR English (Home Language or First Additional Language).
  • You must offer Mathematics as school subject and have obtained at least the minimum performance as prescribed for the specific programme.
  • For the specific admission requirements of programmes, it is important to consult the Undergraduate Admission Requirements and the Calendar and click on the Natural Sciences block for the Faculty of Science’s Calendar to ensure that you meet those requirements.
  • Admission requirements for learners with international school-leaving qualifications are available HERE

Marks too low?

What if you are provisionally selected, but then just one of your final Grade 12 marks do not meet the minimum requirements?

Our BSc Extended Degree Programmes (EDP) can accommodate a limited number of students. These take one year longer than the mainstream degree programme since it offers a foundation year at the start of your studies.

For more information, contact our academic advisor at (021) 808 3063 or scienceadmin@sun.ac.za

Step 4: How do I apply?

How do I apply?

Go to www.maties.com and complete an e-application online.

Remember

Closing date for applications: 30 June

Get advice

Make an informed choice before you apply. If unsure, contact our academic advisor at scienceadmin@sun.ac.za

With an analytical mind, unceasing attention to detail, and a holistic approach, I believe no problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.

Prof Chris Garbers, former CSIR-president and chemistry lecturer at SU

Talk to us

Our recruitment officer, Ms Maambele Khosa, is an alumni of our Faculty and available to talk to learners and teachers about study and career opportunities in the natural sciences, as well as student life at Stellenbosch University.

E-mail: maambele@sun.ac.za

Tel: (021) 808-2681

Step 5: Careers in science

Are you considering pursuing a career in the natural sciences, but unsure which career options there are? On this page, we provide an overview of career options in the biological mathematical and physical sciences, as well as focus on some of the latest and newest developments in the field of science, such as bioinformatics, biomathematics, data science and machine learning.

We encourage all our students to follow-up on their three-year BSc degree with a postgraduate qualification. This will enable you to gain recognition (and registration where relevant) as a professional scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNSP).

https://www.sacnasp.org.za/requirements-for-registration

Careers in science:

Geoinformatics

Are you passionate about Geography but not sure whether you can make a career out of it? Or are you a computer geek who wants to contribute to a healthy environment? Have you ever wondered how satellites have changed our world?

Then you should consider studying Geoinformatics, where we combine geography with geospatial technology and computer science to solve a wide range of problems, from detecting oil spills in marine environments and conserving the environment, to unearthing ancient archaeological sites.

What is Geoinformatics?

Geoinformation Science (GISc) is “the science of where”. GISc combines the science of geography with geospatial technology and data science to develop and use information science infrastructure to address problems in agriculture, disaster management, environmental management, social sciences, urban planning, insurance, marketing and logistics, as well as geosciences and related branches of engineering. A geospatial practitioner will analyse geographic information through spatial analysis, geospatial data science and geovisualization of geocoded big data captured through aerial photogrammetry, satellite earth observations, spatial methods and computational capabilities. Web mapping and cartography are ways to represent the outputs of geospatial analysis and modelling.

Geoinformatics at Stellenbosch University

SU offers a three-year BSc-degree in Geoinformatics, followed by a one-year BSc Honours-degree in Geoinformatics. This combined four-year programme is accredited by the South African Geomatics Profession Act and provides graduates with immediate registration as a GISc Professional-In-Training. Further opportunities exist in postgraduate studies in the form of Masters and PhD degrees. The Geoinformatics modules are also available as electives in many other BSc programmes.

Career opportunities

As a GISc practitioner, earth observation specialist, spatial data analyst, geospatial developer or research scientist, you can work for government or in the private sector, as commercial consultant, or work at a wide range of research institutions.

Do you want to know more?

Contact Catherine Liederman at catherine@sun.ac.za

Tel no: +27 21 808 3218

Website: www.sun.ac.za/geography

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SUGeoinformatics

Ready to apply?

Contact Maambele Khosa, recruitment officer, Faculty of Science

E-mail: maambele@sun.ac.za

Closing date for applications: 30 June 2020

Apply here: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/maties/apply

What do I have to study to become an astrophysicist?

Most universities do not offer an undergraduate programme called “astrophysics”. Astrophysics is normally a postgraduate field of study, following on an undergraduate programme focusing on the fundamental principles of Physics.

Undergraduate

It is, however, important that your undergraduate exposure will enable you to further your studies in any Physics field of study. Stellenbosch University is well positioned, as our undergraduate programme offering is based on international standards concerning the fundamental principles of Physics. We give students a comprehensive introduction into classical and quantum mechanics; electromagnetism; statistical physics; and special relativity, enabling you to study on a postgraduate level in your preferred field.

Postgraduate

Our postgraduate offering is aligned with our main research directions, namely: theoretical physics; laser physics; and nuclear physics. There are certain theoretical aspects of astro physics that easily fit into the framework of both nuclear physics, as well as theoretical physics, although very project-specific. Thus in a nutshell: should you complete an undergraduate programme in Physics at Stellenbosch University, you will be in a very good position to pursue further postgraduate studies in any chosen speciality at any univeristy, locally or internationally.

From previous experience we do know that first-year students seldom have a thorough understanding of a specific speciality field. Your academic path is mainly a result of your exposure and experience. It is therefore always wise to expose students to all aspects of Physics to ensure that he or she has as many postgraduate options to choose from as possible.

What is bioinformatics?

New Bioinformatics Honours-programme at SU

Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Science now offers a programme in Bioinformatics and Computation Biology that will take you from undergraduate to from undergraduate to undergraduate and postgraduate programme in Bioinformatics and Computation Biology

The new BSc Honours-degree in Bioinformatics and Computation Biology offered by the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University (SU), and starting in 2021, will prepare students for a stimulating and internationally competitive career in Bioinformatics.

Described as data science applied to biological data, bioinformatics involves skills in coding, data storage and statistical analysis, combined with a thorough understanding of biochemistry, genetics and microbiology.

This inter-disciplinary programme will cater for students who majored in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, Molecular Biology or other suitable majors.

According to Prof Hugh Patterton, director of SU’s Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and coordinator of the programme, modern research in biology, which increasingly employs parallelised techniques that can generate terabytes of multi-dimensional data, is simply not possible anymore without the computational approach of bioinformatics.

The programme brings together a number of prominent researchers from their respective fields of expertise, including the Division of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, the Department of Biochemistry, the Department of Genetics and the Wine Biotechnology Institute.

SU’s Faculty of Science currently also offers training in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from an undergraduate level. The foundation disciplines in the Inter-disciplinary BSc-degree programme (Stream: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology) will prepare you for a BScHons, MSc and eventually a PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Full information on the undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes are available in the Faculty of Science Calendar (Part 5) and on the Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology website.

More on bioinformatics

Bioinformatics matured as a discipline in response to the requirements of the genome sequencing efforts that started in the 1990s. The analysis of the enormous volumes of genome data required computational approaches to identify genomic features such as genes and regulatory sequences, an exercise known as genome annotation.

The application of computational methods quickly expanded to other areas in biology, and facilitated the study of the expression level of all genes in a cell or tissue, or the level and post-translational modification state of all proteins in a cell. This allows a deep insight into the regulation of the chemistry in a cell.

Bioinformatics also allows the analysis of the evolutionary relationship of species, and the geographic migrations and interaction between species over several millennia, including that of the human cousins Homo sapiens, H. neanderthalensis and H. denisovans.

Bioinformatics can be applied to the fields of agriculture and health care. In agriculture the bioinformatician will be involved in analysing datasets to optimise agricultural practices and management in order to optimise production.

In the field of personalised healthcare, the bioinformatician will apply his or her skills to improvements in diagnosis or therapy. Bioinformatics also allows for the study of the relationship between specific mutations and the presence of defined disease states. This, together with the fact that specific mutations influence the efficacy of a therapy, has ushered in the era of personalised medicine. The application of bioinformatics to the genome data of newborns, for example, will have a revolutionary impact on public and personal health over the next decade.

Lastly, bioinformatics allows for the systematic study of fundamental aspects that define living systems. It aims to define linked chemical equilibria and associated enzyme catalysts in terms of systems, allowing a deeper understanding of the chemistry of life, and also allows the development of new, synthetic life forms, based on the smallest possible genome.

Talk to us

This year the popular Science Winter Week will take place online from 13-15 July 2021. The programme will consist of interactive sessions every day from 10:00-12:00. Attendance is free of charge.
Contact Maambele Khosa for more information at maambele@sun.ac.za or register here.

The Science Winter Week provides learners with the ideal opportunity to find out more about study fields and career options in the Natural Sciences by engaging directly with lecturers and researchers in the various fields.

This year the Stellenbosch University Open Day was an online event. Please visit the Open Day website to access a range of videos and information about the Faculty of Science's programme offerings in the physical, biological and mathematical sciences. Or click here to go directly to the Faculty of Science's exhibition.

Maties 101 is an online event for all provisionally accepted students, hosted by our Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Wim de Villiers, as well as the Faculty Deans.
This serves as an opportunity for you as a future Matie to gain first-hand experience on what SU offers and what to expect for 2022.

Click here to view the Maties 101 event in 2020.