School of Life Sciences


Biotechnology is the branch of applied science that uses living organisms and their derivatives to produce products and processes. The Biotechnology cluster is comprised of three disciplines: Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology.



Biochemistry combines biology and chemistry, but now covers such a wide range of subjects. It studies the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and DNA that make living cells and organisims work.


Genetics explores the pathways that lead from the determinants of heredity to the final expressed trait. It seeks to understand the way in which the basic instructions for this process are encoded and expressed. 


Microbiology students learn how to apply new/advanced technologies to explore the make-up, diversity and functioning of micro-organisms, and their relationship with other organisms and the environment.


Bachelor of Science (LES Stream)

The three-year undergraduate programme leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science (BSc) is achieved through a general and BSc Life and Earth Sciences (LES Stream) with possible major subject combinations of any two of the following: Biochemistry, Biology, Cellular Biology, Ecology, Genetics, Microbiology.

  • Entry requirements:

    NSC degree pass with Maths, English and Life Orientation level 4 and Agricultural Science OR Life Sciences OR Physical Science level 4

  • Application Performance Score (APS) range:

    28 - 48

Bachelor of Science (Industrial and Applied Biotechnology)

This three-year undergraduate programme is achieved through a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Industrial and Applied Biotechnology. It offers students the opportunity to acquire basic scientific grounding through a specified set of core and elective module combinations from Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, Chemistry and Chemical Technology. 

  • Entry requirements:

    NSC degree pass with Maths, English and Life Orientation level 4 and Agricultural Science OR Life Sciences OR Physical Science level 4

  • Application Performance Score (APS) range:

    28 - 48


CASSE is an Alternative Access and Academic Support Programme that caters for prospective students whose academic potential was not realised due to a disadvantaged educational background.

  • Entry requirements:

    NSC degree pass with Maths, English, Life Orientation and Agricultural Science/Physical Science/Life Science at level 3

How to Apply

All first-time South African applicants to UKZN for entry into degree/ diploma study (Grade 12s and undergraduate transfer students from other institutions) must apply via the Central Applications Office (CAO).

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

A one-year specialist programme leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science (Honours). A minimum of 50% must be achieved at BSc level to gain admittance to Honours. The closing date for applications is 30 September, although late applications will be considered on payment of a late application fee.

Master of Science

A Master of Science programme is offered, whereby students engage in research under the supervision of an academic staff member. A minimum of a BSc Honours degree or equivalent must be achieved to be considered for this programme. This degree takes a minimum of one year.

Doctor of Philosophy

A Doctor of Philosophy programme is offered where students engage in novel research supervised by academic members of staff. This is typically three years of fulltime study and normally follows on from a Master of Science Degree

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted to our College office. Visit the College website to see the steps to follow, download the application pack/ forms and access the link to apply online


Research Areas

We are a research-led institution, producing knowledge for the rapidly-changing and information-rich world.

Research Groups

We have a number of research groups that specialise in areas of research in Biotechnology. 

Student dissertations

UKZN Research Space was developed to increase the visibility, availability and impact of tour students’ research output.


The Analytical laboratory is equipped with the following equipment: Mass balances, conductivity meters, pH meters, autotitrators, drying ovens, refractometers , spectrophotometer , distillation apparatus, water baths, heating mantles, centrifuge etc. The laboratory serves the needs of wet-chemistry procedures. 

The laboratory is serviced by Mrs Puleng Mzulwini (Chemical technician) and Mr Sadha Naidoo (Chief chemical technician).  

This laboratory is occupied by the School’s Pollution Research Group (PRG), who also run the Biochemical and Environment Engineering course. The PRG contributes significantly in research, to improving the environment and health of South Africans, by the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to the problems of waste, sanitation and water supply. The PRG works in close collaboration with eThekwini Municipality, Sasol and Eskom.

Postgraduate students undertake research and final year undergraduate students undertake laboratory projects. The laboratory houses, amongst others, equipment such as : OUR set up – Oxygen Uptake Rate, COD-reflux method for Chemical Oxygen Demand, TKN – Total Kjeldhal Nitrogren, TSS – Total Suspended Solids, Spectroquant , GC, etc.

The laboratory is serviced by a laboratory technician – Mrs Merlien Reddy

This laboratory is equipped with the following equipment: Gas chromatography (GC), Gas chromatography – Mass spectrophotomete (GCMS), Particle size analyzer, Rheometer, Corrosion unit (all have software support), Moisture analyzer, microscopes, viscometers etc. The instrument laboratory is used for data capturing and analysis. 

The laboratory is serviced by Mrs Rekha Maharaj (Chemical technician) and Mr Sadha Naidoo (Chief chemical technician). 

This laboratory houses the larger equipment which are on a semi-industrial scale. Most of this equipment is used for the undergraduate practical programme.

The three laboratories above are used by undergraduate, postgraduate, academic and laboratory staff in performing coursework practicals, final year projects, postgraduate research, academic research, vacation work and internal and external consulting projects.

This laboratory is serviced by the 3 chemical technicians.

The Thermodynamic Research Unit laboratories (Ground floor- 08A/B) cover the measurement of phase equilibrium data such as Vapour-liquid ( VLE ), Liquid-liquid (LLE ) and Vapour liquid-liquid equilibria( VLLE ) . The conditions of measurements range from high- low temperatures and pressures.

There are several apparati present, all designed, constructed and commissioned by the Thermodynamics Research Unit. The stills, used for the measurement of phase equilibria, have online GC sampling. The ebulliometer consists of a series of smaller sized recirculating glass cells for the measurements of infinite dilution activity coefficients; which can also be measured using other existing set-ups in the laboratories being, the inert gas stripping apparatus and the Gas-Liquid Chromatography set-up.

Postgraduate research and contract projects are carried out for many local industrial companies, e.g. , Sasol, Illovo, NECSA, etc. Undergraduates undertake laboratory projects in their final year of studies. The Unit offers vocational work to promising and potential postgraduate students. The Unit also employs research assistants for undertaking data measurements for contract and research projects.

The Thermodynamics Research Unit employs two full-time technicians, Mr Ayanda Khanyile and Mr Linden Mkize, to assist in the running and maintenance of the laboratories.

Contact us

mS Charmaine Schofield-Ahrens

Ms Sibongile Khuzwayo

Ms Sibusisiwe Dube