Students wishing to register for the degree BSc Honours in Polymer Science should first familiarise themselves with the minimum requirements for admission (Yearbook). Note that the closing date for applications is normally October 31 of the year preceding that in which the course commences. The BSc Honours course in Polymer Science is a full-time one-year course that commences in January of each year. The course comprises 7 modules. Of these, 5 are theoretical courses, 1 is a practical techniques course, and the last is a research project. Four of the courses are taken in the first semester, with the other three in the second semester. A breakdown of the courses are given below.

First semester modules

Analytical Techniques 711

All honours students within the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science (Chemistry students and Polymer Science students) are required to complete and pass the Analytical Techniques course, which comprises fundamentals of spectroscopy (NMR, FTIR, MS) and chromatography. For more information see the following link….This course runs for 5 weeks and comprises about 40 contact hours (lectures).

Polymer Science 712 and 724 commence after the Analytical Techniques course. These courses run concurrently. Each of the two courses comprise 40 contact hours of lectures. A list of typical topics that are covered, are given below. Topics may vary from year to year.

Polymer Science 712: Advanced Analytical Polymer Science

  • Introduction and overview
  • Characterisation and analysis of polymer surfaces and microscopy
  • Chromatography as a tool for polymer analysis
  • Mass Spectrometry of Polymers
  • Thermal analysis
  • Spectroscopic analysis
  • Analysis of polyolefins
  • Morphology and physical properties

Polymer Science 724: Polymer Chemistry

  • Introduction to polymers as materials; applications and the scope of the science
  • Polymerisation conditions and methods
  • Free radical polymerisation chemistry and kinetics
  • Controlled radical polymerization reactions and the application to complex polymer architectures
  • Stepwise polymerisation: chemistry, kinetics and polymers
  • Catalysis: transition metal catalysts, processes and polymers
  • Ionic polymerization techniques and polymers
  • Polymer degradation and stabilisation
  • Industrial applications of polymer synthesis: Overview of processes and polymers
  • Special topics: e.g. water soluble polymers, high temperature resistant polymers

Polymer Science 713: Practical techniques

This is a 5-week course during which time students will master practical techniques that are relevant to the field of synthetic polymer chemistry. Students are required to spend about 16 – 20 hours per week in the laboratory. This course overlaps with the Polymer Science 714 and 724 courses.

Second Semester Modules

Polymer Science 744: Physical Polymer Science

The following topics are covered. The course comprises about 20 2-hour lectures (40 contact hours)

  • Polymers in solution
  • Elasticity and plasticity
  • Viscous flow
  • Rubber elasticity
  • Phase transitions, thermal transitions
  • Viscous flow and deformation and fracture phenomena in the melt
  • Fracture and failure
  • Short-and long term effects
  • Fatigue, environmental effects and impact properties
  • The theory of particulate and fibrous reinforcement
  • Polymer crystallisation
  • Block copolymer phase behaviour in bulk and in selective solvents

Polymer Science 754: General Polymer Science & Special Topics

The following topics are examples of what could be covered. This course runs concurrently with Polymer Science 744. The course comprises about 40 contact hours.

  • Raw materials and raw material production in South Africa
  • Processing: compounding, extrusion, injection moulding and blow moulding
  • Elastomer technology
  • Polymeric products: Adhesives, paints, foams, industrial textiles
  • Polymer blends and composites
  • Nanocomposites
  • Biomedical applications of polymers

The above module also involves visits to local industries.

Polymer Science 714: Research Project

Each student will complete a research project during the second semester. Students will be given a list of research topics to select from at the end of the first semester. Research will be undertaken under the supervision of an academic staff member, with mentorship of senior postgraduate students. Each honours student will therefore be assigned to a specific research laboratory for the second semester. Upon completion of the project, each student will be required to present his/her results to the faculty and students of the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. A written report, in the form of a short research publication, is also required.