School of Life Sciences



Biochemistry combines biology and chemistry, but now covers such a wide range of subjects that it is difficult to draw a neat border around biochemistry. Ours is a modern department, with emphases in: cellular regulation, molecular genetics, protein structure, hormone action, virology, and developmental biology.       


Biology is a diverse field that focuses on living things and their interaction with the environment.
Our courses combine practical and theory work with a mixture of lectures and lab work. Biological Sciences offers you a wide choice of study areas, ranging from botony to ecology and zoology.

Cell biology

Cell biology is a branch of biology that studies the different structures and functions of the cell and focuses mainly on the idea of the cell as the basic unit of life. 
Cell biology explains the structure, organisation of the organelles they contain, their physiological properties, metabolic processes, signaling pathways, life cycle and interactions with their environment. 


Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with one another and with their physical environment. The distribution and abundance of organisms on Earth is shaped by both biotic and abiotic factors. Ecology is studied at many levels, including organism, population, community, ecosystem, and biosphere.


Genetics deals with the molecular structure and function of genes, gene behaviour in the context of a cell or organism, patterns of inheritance from parent to offspring, and gene distribution, variation and change in populations. 

Given that genes are universal to living organisms, genetics can be applied to the study of all living systems, from viruses and bacteria, through plants and domestic animals, to humans. 

Understanding the nature of genetic variation permits one to combat disease in humans, plants and animals, and improve existing strains and breeds of plants and animals.

Marine Biology

UKZN’s position within the African continent has led to the development of a unique Marine Biology programme able to service requirements from the southern African eastern seaboard and neighbouring Indian Ocean Rim countries. 
The School has linkages with the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI-SAAMBR), the CSIR and EKZN Wildlife (all of them in Durban), plus close working relations with other institutes involved in marine research and management outside the province. On the research side, the largest component of the marine research initiative has historically comprised the Estuarine Research Programme which are arguably the most threatened of all South African marine ecosystems.


The field of microbiology is an exciting area of science. Students learn how to detect and quantify micro-organisms in foods, beverages and diverse environmental materials.

Students can use various analytical techniques, spanning from light and electron microscopy to DNA fingerprinting and mass spectrometry to explore the ecophysiology, cellular structure and diversity of microorganisms.

Our graduates typically find employment in the food and beverage or the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, educational and research institutions, diagnostic and quality control laboratories, governmental departments and agencies, sales, marketing and product development, consultancies, and NGOs.