Agronomy: Within this programme, the focus is in the integration of the disciplines of agricultural engineering, agro-forestry, crop production, genetics and plant breeding, horticulture, plant protection and soil science. All of these are supported by a strong foundation in the physical and biological sciences. Special attention is given to the sustainable intensive and extensive production of food and fibre crops, under rain-fed conditions or with irrigation, for local and exports markets.
Biochemistry: is the study of the chemistry of life. It is a “hands-on” experimental science of living things and aims to explore and exploit, unravel and understand all living organisms at the molecular level. It includes the study of structural and biological function of compounds that are unique to living things, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids.
Biochemistry also covers Molecular Biology, Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering. It falls between the physical science and the life sciences and thus interacts with Chemistry, Biophysics, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, Genetics, Physiology, etc. Biochemistry features important insights and practical applications in Medicine, Agriculture, Nutrition, Industry and the Environmental Studies.
Botany: The science of botany includes many disciplines and the plant kingdom is large and very varied. Careers in botany, therefore, are equally varied. Botany is the science of the study of plants and the traditional definition ‘plant’ includes an enormous range of living organisms ranging from bacteria to flowering plants, algae and fungi, mosses and ferns and gymnosperms, some of which are considered distinct or separate kingdoms of living things. The science of botany includes the fields of morphology, anatomy, physiology, ecology and taxonomy. Each of these could be applied to all or some of the group of plants. Specialization within each discipline is also possible. A career in botany can, therefore, include a survey of the distribution of plants in a given area, or details of the fine structure of parts of a leaf, or experiments to determine how plants convert simple chemical compounds into complex compounds in metabolic processes and many more.
Chemistry: The Department of Chemistry is one of the oldest departments in the University. It is known nationally and internationally for academic excellence.
The Department offers the following degrees programmes: BSc Chemistry, BSc (Hons) Chemistry, MSc Chemistry and PhD Chemistry. Our MSC and PhD degree programmes are offered by research only in any of the following fields: Analytical, Inorganic, Physical and Organic. The below are some of the current research studies going on in the department:
Geographic Information Systems: Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is one of the fastest growing industries globally, and it is being applied in nearly every facet of life. The overall course provides advanced education and training in the principles and practice of Remote Sensing and GIS, and teaches students to undertake and manage RS and GIS projects. It is focused on developing high level skills required to implement the technology to real world applications. The courses have been designed to equip students with the intellectual knowledge and skills and confidence to become practitioners, experts or managers in the theory, methods and applications of Remote Sensing and GIS to the Natural Environment and Rural Development.
Geography and Environmental Science: Geography is the science that deals with the earth and its life - the description of land, sea, air (including climate) - and the distribution of plant and animal life (including humans and industries). In other words agricultural, industrial and other forms of land use are of great concern here. Special attention is given to environmental management and care.
Geology: Geology at Fort Hare has become increasingly popular as the undergraduate courses have been structured to include more applied geology such as Geophysics, Geochemistry, Engineering and Economic geology, and Data Analysis. Training in Geology at Fort Hare includes field schools and excursions to different areas of South Africa under the guidance of expert geologists. Undergraduate practical work consists of all the modules on applied geology, as well as in petrology and the other basic components of the course. The B.Sc. Honours course in Geology prescribes much theoretical seminar work. This, together with the practical projects, prepares the student for a career in Geology and develops research capabilities, enabling candidates to proceed with projects towards the Masters Degree.
Livestock and Pasture Science: Within the livestock science component of this programme, the concern is with all aspects of the production and health of domesticated farm animals. Our pasture component, on the other hand, studies the management of the veld (range) and cultivated pastures. The emphasis is on the production of ranging-livestock, including game, off the natural veld. Free-ranging animals contribute significantly to the economy of the country, through tourism.
Mathematics: This department offers courses in Mathematics up to doctoral level. Since Mathematics is a ‘universal’ subject, our syllabi are regularly compared to those offered at other Universities and revised if necessary. This ensures quality and acceptance of our courses by other tertiary institutions. Courses are roughly grouped into three main categories, i.e. (i) Foundation Mathematics, (ii) Mathematics for Teachers and (iii) Mathematics ‘Major’.
Microbiology: The study of microbiology is fascinating. Most people associate micro-organisms solely with disease. However, the use of micro-organisms to produce natural products and processes that benefit and improve our socio-economic life style has been a part of human history since the days of early civilization. Cheese, wine, beer, bread, yogurt, antibiotics, proteins, to name but a few, are products of microbial metabolism. The quality of our environment also depends on the activities of micro-organisms. Major groups of micro-organisms include algae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. A fuller understanding of the many roles of micro-organisms in nature and their applications for human welfare is still to come.
Statistics We offer exceptional opportunities for study in Statistics at the undergraduate level, postgraduate level with programs in Mathematical Statistics, Applied Statistics and Biostatistics, and at the professional research level.Our graduates are employed in a wide range of occupational sectors throughout the world, including the university sector.
Physics: Physics is the foundation for the understanding of all natural phenomena. Training in physics enables a student to appreciate and understand scientific achievements of the recent past and to actively participate in new research. Fort Hare physics students study the basic laws of mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics and quantum mechanics. Students are also expected to perform experimental work.
The Department is involved in the development of the appropriate skills, such as logical scientific analysis, integration of knowledge from different fields and disciplines, creative thinking and synthesis in the fields of basic and advanced Zoology and Entomology. We specialize in Functional Vertebrate Anatomy, Aquatic Biology (particularly Crustacea), Animal Behaviour and Ecology (particularly Insects, Arachnids and small mammals) and Conservation (aquatic and terrestrial). We work in close cooperation with the School of Agriculture and Agribusiness and the staff of the new Great Fish River Game Reserve to give our students (and staff) exposure to practical situations where their knowledge is relevant and applicable. The Department also offers service courses in Human Biology to Nursing Science students.