The Transvaal Technical Institute, which became the Transvaal University College, (TUC) was established in Johannesburg in 1903. It was the first tertiary educational institution in the province of Transvaal, South Africa. The Pretoria Centre of the Transvaal University College (TUC) opened its doors on the 10th of February 1908 in Kya Rosa in Skinner Street for 32 students. Amongst the first four professors was Prof. Dr. D. F. du Toit Malherbe, professor in Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Mathematics. In 1911 the TUC moved into the Old Arts building on the present campus and on 10 October 1930 the TUC was incorporated in the independent "Universiteit van Pretoria". Afrikaans became the official language of instruction on 13 September 1932. The Department of Physics became an independent department in 1909.

At present more than 27 000 students are studying in 140 academic departments in 11 faculties.

Heads of the Physics Department since 1909

Prof Dr P G Gundry 1909-1929
Prof Dr J S van der Lingen 1930-1948
Prof Dr H W Verleger 1949-1971
Prof Dr J H van der Merwe 1972-1979
Prof Dr E Friedland 1980-1998
Prof Dr J B Malherbe 1998-2011
Prof Dr C Theron 2012-present

Some statistics

The BSc Honours course was introduced in 1972.
The first MSc degree was awarded to Mr Beezhold in 1932. He became Professor and Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics.
The first doctorate was awarded to Dr Basson in 1954, who became the Vice-President of the Atomic Energy Board.

The following degrees were awarded up to 2004:


BSc Honours



From 1908-1979




From 1980-1995




From 1996- 2004









History in Photos

A booklet can be downloaded here, which contains a summary of the history of the department, including some photos.

Below are posters with photos of people in the department over the past five decades.
These posters can be viewed on the 5th floor of the Natural Sciences Building I.
Click on a poster to view a pdf version, which can be enlarged.

Physics history poster 1950-1969
physics department history poster 1970-1979
physics history poster 1980-1989
physics history poster 1990-1999
 physics history poster 2000-2010  






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