Departments involved with SWEP 2009
1. THE FACULTY OF SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MAURITIUS
The Faculty of Science was created in February 1989 as the School of Science. It currently comprises the Departments of Biosciences, Chemistry, Health Sciences, Mathematics, Medicine and Physics. It has a staff population of about 140, with nearly 50 academic staff. The Faculty of Science is a key provider of quality scientific education, training, research and consultancy in Mauritius.
In 2008/2009, the Faculty had an overall student population of 1107. The percentage of female enrolment amounted to 53%. 95 students were registered on research degree programmes (MPhil/PhD or MRes), 26 on taught postgraduate programmes, and 986 on undergraduate programmes, of whom 85% were on degree programmes.
The Faculty offers a rich blend of academic programmes across a wide range of core disciplines. The curricula are revised regularly in consultation with experts from leading overseas academic institutions and seasoned industry professionals to keep abreast with more effective pedagogical methods, industry needs, new technologies and worldwide trends in academia.
To help students develop into technically able as well as socially adaptable professionals, all our students follow at least one module in Information Technology and most of them have to opt for General Education Modules (GEMs). The latter include subjects in accounting, communication skills, social welfare, management or sports.
The standard and quality of our programmes are maintained to internationally accepted levels by a system of moderation by external examiners from UK, USA, Australia and South Africa. The good training provided can also be attested by many of our undergraduates completing with relative ease their higher studies (MSc or PhD) abroad in countries as diverse as UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada, USA, France and India.
The Faculty of Science, with less than 20 years existence, is among the leading faculties of the University in terms of academic staff holding a PhD degree 72% and research output (number of MPhil and PhD degrees awarded till date, research grants obtained and the number of publications). It is noteworthy that in the External Quality Audit Report of the University of Mauritius carried out in 2005, the Faculty was commended by the audit panel for its impressive research output. Students usually get a flavour of research when carrying out their final year projects under the supervision of academic staff.
2. Department of Biosciences
The Department is currently composed of seven full-time academic staff and has approximately 147 undergraduate, 14 MSc and 7 MPhil/ PhD students. It offers the following undergraduate programmes: (i) BSc (Hons) Biology, and (ii) BSc (Hons) Biology (Optional Minor: Environmental & Aquatic Sciences/ Plant Sciences/ Molecular Biology/ Chemistry), BSc (Hons) Marine Science and Technology.
First year students sample the breadth of the multi-faceted discipline of biosciences through exposure to subjects ranging from molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, diversity of organisms and environmental biology. These are supplemented with modules on biostatistics and information technology. In the second year, areas of biosciences such as bioinformatics, ecology, marine biology, developmental biology, parasitology and immunology are covered. Students either continue with a pure biology programme or opt for minors: Environmental & Aquatic Sciences, Plant Sciences or Molecular Biology. Under each minor, topics covered include a wide array of subjects such as environmental monitoring, oceanography, aquaculture; plant products applications, plant biochemistry, plant ecology; structural biochemistry, metabolism and regulation respectively. In the third year, the students explore more topics in their options including subjects such as coastal zone management, conservation biology, plant biotechnology and virology. They also develop their ability to plan and carry out research work, which culminates in the write-up of a dissertation.
Our past biology graduates have secured employment as Scientific Officers, Environmental Officers, Technical Officers and Education Officers. The degree also provides opportunity for further studies and research at postgraduate level.
3. Department of Chemistry
The mission of the Department of Chemistry is to provide students with the appropriate level of modern and comprehensive chemical education required for life and work in our technologically advanced society. The courses offered at undergraduate level emphasise the fundamental principles of chemistry while developing experimental skills. The aims are to training scientists develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to enable them to tackle problems in the real world using their chemical knowledge. The Department currently comprises 10 academic staff and has 144 undergraduate, 8 MSc and 2 MPhil/ PhD students. It offers the following undergraduate programmes: (i) BSc (Hons) Chemistry, and (ii) BSc (Hons) Chemistry (Optional Minor: Biosciences/ Environmental Science/ Mathematics/ Physics).
Freshers and second year students are coached in topics pertaining to Environmental Science, Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry through a combination of classroom lectures and laboratory classes. These topics are covered from multiple angles to expose their link with the everyday ways in which chemicals and the principles of chemistry are applied. These students are also offered a choice of Electives in selected topics like Materials Science, Computational Science and Applied Chemistry. Final year students are provided with hands-on experience in a variety of characterisation and analytical techniques. Through their research dissertation and lectures, they become familiar with the conventional industrial and laboratory processes in the synthesis of organic, inorganic, organometallic and polymer materials.
The versatility of our BSc (Hons) Chemistry graduates means that they can target a wide spectrum of jobs in public institutions and across industry. Outlets for our graduates comprise the textile dye-houses, environmental authorities, sugar and agriculture industries, teaching and research and companies dealing in plastics, paints and pharmaceuticals. More recently, novel career pathways have emerged due to the focus on quality assurance in chemical industries. The degree also provides opportunity for further studies and research at postgraduate level locally or abroad.
4. Department of Mathematics
The Department of Mathematics is currently composed of 10 full-time academic staff including one academic on leave and has 161 undergraduate and 12 MPhil/ PhD students. It offers the following undergraduate programmes: (i) BSc (Hons) Mathematics, (ii) BSc (Hons) Mathematics (Optional Minor: Biology/ Chemistry/ Environmental Science/ Physics), and (iii) BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Computer Science.
During their first two years of study, BSc (Hons) Mathematics students take modules which provide them with an in-depth knowledge of mechanics, algebra, probability, statistics, analysis, computer programming, mathematical programming, numerical methods and IT. On reaching their final year of study, students take higher level modules both in pure and applied mathematics such as functional analysis, fluid dynamics, applied probability, operational research and optimisation. They also have to submit a project based on research and independent work which accounts for a substantial part of their assessment.
The curriculum for BSc (Hons) Maths with Computer Science includes the same core mathematics topics. In addition, students follow modules on database management systems, internet applications, software engineering, networks and information systems security.
Most of our graduates enter the traditional mathematical professions of teaching, research and statistics. Others have opted for a smooth transition in areas where their analytical skills, logical thought and problem-solving ability are a definite advantage. Examples are information technology, accountancy, insurance, banking and finance
5. Department of Physics
Established in 1994, the Department of Physics occupies the fourth floor of the New Academic Complex building. The Department offers undergraduate, Masters and MPhil/ PhD programmes. With an average annual intake of 70 students, we are the leading provider of tertiary education in the field of physics, in the country. The Department incorporates the Mauritius Radio Telescope situated at Bras d’Eau, Poste de Flacq. It comprises of 8 full-time academic staff. It offers the following undergraduate programmes: (i) BSc (Hons) Physics, (ii) BSc (Hons) Physics (Optional Minor: Biology/ Chemistry/ Environmental Science/ Mathematics), (iii) BSc (Hons) Physics with Computing, and (iv) BSc (Hons) Physics with Electronics.
First year BSc students take an essentially common course in thermal physics, physics of matter, wave phenomena, mechanics, IT & computing and, mathematical physics supported by regular laboratory classes. In year two, students delve deeper into these topics while they are introduced to electronics, electromagnetism, statistical physics, optics and quantum mechanics. As from year two, students can also opt for electives in different areas including computational physics, astrophysics and further electronics. The third year modules are intellectually and conceptually more challenging, with topics in nuclear and particle physics, atomic and molecular physics, solid state physics, electromagnetic theory. The culmination of the student’s effort comes with the presentation of an original research project.
To enhance mobility of physics graduates beyond the confines of teaching and research, the Department of Physics has adopted a proactive strategy involving a broadening of the traditional physics curriculum. Engineering oriented options and a wide range of minors on offer are opening up a wider range of job markets to our graduates. Our past physics graduates have secured positions in areas as diverse as teaching, research, management, accountancy, meteorology, metrology, medical physics, computer network administration, oceanography, aviation and in regulatory bodies.