About University of Cape Town Faculty of Health Sciences

About University of Cape Town Faculty of Health Sciences

About us

The Faculty of Health Sciences’ vision is to be a centre of excellence in health sciences that is locally relevant and globally competitive. 

Established over 100 years ago in 1912, the Faculty is the oldest medical school in sub-Saharan Africa, and the top-rated on the continent. With a stellar reputation in education and research we were ranked 48th in the 2014 Times Higher Education World University Rankings for clinical, preclinical and health, placing the Faculty in the company of internationally acclaimed universities. We have kept pace with global approaches to academic health sciences, accelerating efforts to improve health on our continent. Our staff have an international reputation for excellence. We have 12 NRF A-rated scientists and 122 rated researchers out of UCT’s 480.  Our 11 000 plus graduates continue to make their mark globally, many having achieved worldwide acclaim in their fields.

The largest of six faculties at UCT, with over 1500 staff and over 4000 students, the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS)  focusses on medical, nursing and the rehabilitation professions; and basic, translational, clinical and public health sciences. Our undergraduate programmes attract the country’s top students, from all communities. In 2015 we registered 2116 undergraduates. Our undergraduate programmes enjoy an excellent throughput –  In 2015 we had a 99 percent pass-rate. Our modernised curriculum is designed to ensure that our undergraduates are fit for purpose, with training and services delivered in facilities across the health system. 

Our fast growing and popular postgraduate registrations reached 2309 (including post-doctorals) for a range of diplomas and degrees, as well as specialist and sub-specialist degrees. Students from across the continent and beyond seek to hone their research skills with us, where cutting edge research on health in low to middle income countries is being spawned.  

The Faculty research enterprise is dynamic and fast growing. Our publications output is the highest at UCT.  We promote interdisciplinary research across our 13 departments through our 34 research groupings. UCT’s largest research entity at UCT, the Institute for Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), is a postgraduate research enterprise that stands out in Africa through its ability to drive world-class research into high-burden diseases at the laboratory-clinic-community interface. 

In pursuit of our goals, we enjoy partnerships with communities, health services, colleagues and institutions across the country and the continent, and increasingly find synergies with the experiences of the global south. 


On the 6th of June 2012, the University of Cape Town celebrated 100 years since the medical school was established. The 6 June 1912 inaugural event had marked the birth of academic health sciences in Southern Africa. The School was due largely to the campaigning of Dr Barnard Fuller. 


It quickly outgrew its original Hiddingh Campus home to its current Observatory base, which saw the steady evolution of the medical school to a Health Sciences Faculty in the 1970s as well as a rapid expansion of its facilities, increase in the numbers of Chairs, Departments and Divisions, increase in student and staff numbers, and the growth of its research enterprise. 


The Faculty became known for its world class innovation, spearheaded by Dr Christiaan Barnard’s pioneering heart transplant, research leading to the development of the first CAT scan and Zwarenstein’s frog test for pregnancy. 


Since 2000, the Faculty has expanded its research enterprise phenomenally, resulting in huge increases in research funding and a rising reputation for cutting edge research – R684m was generated in income from grants via 874 contracts in 2014, and increase of 23% from 2013. 

– See more at: http://www.health.uct.ac.za/fhs/about/fhs#sthash.kU27cBvA.dpuf