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Division of Polymer Science

Department of Chemistry

and Polymer Science

University of Stellenbosch

Private Bag X1


South Africa

Telephone: +27 (21) 808 3172


Student enquiries

+27(21) 808 3172


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GPS Coordinates:

S 33° 55' 58" E 18° 51' 59"

Welcome to the Division of Polymer Science
University of Stellenbosch

From humble beginnings to where we are today

Prof Ronald Douglas Sanderson, PhD in Polymer Science, Akron University (USA) was appointed as senior lecturer at the Department of Chemistry in 1970.  At this time he was the only polymer scientist in South Africa.

During the mid-1970s, Sanderson established the Institute for Polymer Science as a separate entity within the University of Stellenbosch.  He was appointed as director in 1978 and held this position until 2008 when he retired from the University.  Besides MSc and PhD degrees in Polymer Science being offered, a postgraduate honours course in Polymer Science was developed and also offered – it was the first, and is still the only, honours course in Polymer Science on tertiary level in South Africa

Polymer Science was originally housed in only one laboratory, in the inorganic building of the then Department of Chemistry.  Due to the rapid expansion of the group, initially particularly in the field of membrane separation science for water purification, it moved into its own building (previously anengineering building).

Unfortunately, in 1982 this building was completely destroyed in a fire, and again Polymer Science had to move – to another former engineering building. Since then, postgraduate student numbers have increased considerably, and the current building has undergone numerous alterations/improvements.  The greatest was carried out in 2010 – we now have five modernised large research laboratories and various smaller equipment specific laboratories.

Over the years, the Institute relied heavily on industrial funding for research and was capable of operating independently from the University in this regard.  However, over time, the emphasis on academic training rather than industrial specific research became more evident and the need arose to become part of the Department of Chemistry, especially with regards to funding of student research.  In 2008 the department’s name was then changed to the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, to include Polymer Science as a separate division.

Current research involves multidimensional analytical techniques for complex polymers, advanced macromolecular architectures, structure/property relationships of polymeric materials, complex polymer materials and polymer nanocomposites as well as aspects of textile science.


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