Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science


The Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science is one of the pre-eminent research departments in Chemistry in South Africa and is engaged in a wide range of research areas. The department also plays host to the largest research effort in Polymer Science in the country. It is also the only department at a South African university offering a BSc degree with a focus on textile and polymer science.

We offer undergraduate BSc degrees in Chemistry and Polymer Science, Textile and Polymer Science and Chemical Biology. Post-graduate studies leading towards MSc and PhD degrees are conducted as part of the department’s many research groups.

Research Fields


100+ Year History of the Chemistry Department in Stellenbosch

Looking back on the history of the Chemistry Department, the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (500 BC) come to mind: ‘Panta rei!’ – everything flows, everything changes...

The story of the Chemistry Department actually begins in 1903 (thus 115 years ago) with its inception as a fully-fledged, independent department and the appointment of a person with the formidable full name of Berthault de St. Jean van der Riet as the first professor of Chemistry. Previously, the chair in Chemistry had been linked to those of other department(s) such as Physics and Geology. Berthault van der Riet served as head of the Geology Department from 1895 to 1902 and as head of the Department of Chemistry from 1903 until he reached the (then) voluntary retirement age of 73 years. Up to his retirement in 1940, literally every Stellenbosch chemistry lecturer had studied under Van der Riet.

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Job Opportunities in the Field of Chemistry


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