Biotechnology Courses in South Africa


Biotechnology is a growing science in South Africa. The government encourages research in this field as it recognizes that it could be the way to production of medicine for treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and others. It has contributed immensely to the agricultural sector with South Africa being the only African country to have introduced genetically modified crops such as the Bt maize, which is insect resistant to the stock borer, ascertaining high yields.

South Africa, like many developing countries, has a lot of natural resources that have not yet been spoil by modernization. These however are at a risk of being overused, e.g. the harvesting of medicinal plants without re-planting them. Thus biotechnology is even seen a s away of conserving biodiversity as these plants can be micro propagated in vitro to harvest and extract the important metabolites for the different thus leaving the country rich in biodiversity.

This booming new science is offered by lot of universities and universities of technology are offering Biotechnology study ranging from diploma to doctorate or PhD qualifications. There are more than 20 institutes of higher education in South Africa, varying from technikons to universities. Out of these Universities more than 15 offer biotechnology qualifications.

The Colleges of Technology that offers National Diploma in Biotechnology and BTech are:

University of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal: The course is offered under the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology in the Faculty of Science at a BSc Honours level.

Tshwane University of Technology in Gauteng: Offers National diploma up to postgraduate qualifications in the Faculty of Science under the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology.

University of Venda in Limpopo: The Department of Biochemistry and the Center for Biotechnology offers BSc Biotechnology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

University of the Western Cape in the Western Cape: In the Faculty of Science in the Department of Biotechnology at undergraduate to postgraduate level.

University of Pretoria in Gauteng: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), offers a range of research areas under Biotechnology at postgraduate level. It is found under the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

Vaal University of Technology in Gauteng: Under the Institute of Chemical and Biotechnology (ICBT), offers postgraduate studies and research and the Faculty of Applied and Computer Science offers a National Diploma in Biotechnology.


Universities in South Africa offer Bachelor of Science degrees in Biotechnology. Most of the universities offer Biotechnology at postgraduate level but include Biotechnology as a module in most of their Molecular Biological Sciences courses.

Universities that offer BSc Biotechnology are:

Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Western Cape: Offers National diploma in Biotechnology under the faculty of Science.

University of the Witwatersrand in Gauteng: Under the Faculty of Science in the School of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology. They offer Biotechnology from BSc undergraduate level to postgraduate level.

Durban University of Technology in KwaZulu-Natal:
Offers National Diploma up to post graduate studies in Biotechnology in the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology under the faculty of Applied Science.

University of KwaZulu-Natal in KwaZulu-Natal: The Research Center for Plant Growth and Development in the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, under the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, offers a range of research based in Biotechnology, thus studies are pursued at postgraduate level.

University of Limpopo in Limpopo: Biotechnology is offered at undergrad level under the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, in the School of Molecular and Life Sciences in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology.

University of Free State in the Free State: Under the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Food Biotechnology. Studies are based on research, thus offered under postgraduate level but only taught as a module of Biology or Life Sciences undergraduate degrees.

Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape: Biotechnology can be offered at undergraduate level in a programme referred to as BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in the Faculty of Science. There are two institutions that are research base thus offering postgraduate levels of study by research; these are the Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB) and the Institute for Wine Biotechnology.

University of Johannesburg in Gauteng: In the Department of Biotechnology under the Faculty of Science offers BTech degrees from undergraduate to postgraduate level.

Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape: The Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology in the Faculty of Science offers postgraduate levels of Biotechnology studies whereas Biotechnology is only taught as a module under a range of Biological Sciences undergraduate degrees.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Eastern Cape:
Though they do not show anything denoted by the name 'Biotechnology' the do have fields of research which are Biotechnological such as the Antibody Receptor Programme. These are offered at postgraduate level.

South African BSc degrees' duration is three (3) years. Then BSc Honours partly taught mainly in the first semester with a project in the second semester takes a year (1) to complete. Masters degree by Research takes two (2) years and PhD studies takes three (3) years to be completed.

University of Cape Town in the Western Cape: Offers postgraduate level of study but at undergraduate level it is offered as part of the Microbiology degree.

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