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Programme: BScHons Plant Science

Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Minimum duration of study: 1 year
Total credits: 135

Programme information

Renewal of registration

  1. Subject to exceptions approved by the Dean, on the recommendation of the head of department, and in the case of distance education where the Dean formulates the stipulations that will apply, a student may not sit for an examination for the honours degree more than twice in the same module.
  2. A student for an honours degree must complete his or her study, in the case of full-time students, within two years and, in the case of after-hours students, within three years of first registering for the degree and, in the case of distance education students, within the period stipulated by the Dean. Under special circumstances, the Dean, on the recommendation of the head of department, may give approval for a limited extension of this period.

In calculating marks, General Regulation G.12.2 applies.

Apart from the prescribed coursework, a research project is an integral part of the study.

Admission requirements

BSc in Plant Science, or a recommendation from the head of the department if the candidate did not major in Plant Science. Preference will be given to applicants with the highest final grade point averages for their preceding degree and qualifying applicants may be subjected to an entrance evaluation examination. Admission is furthermore contingent on the availability of supervisors and/or research projects within the participating departments.

Other programme-specific information

BOT 705 and BTW 701 are for BScHons (Biotechnology) students. PB students who wish to take one of these modules as an elective need to apply to the programme leader.

The curriculum for the balance of the credits will be determined by the heads of department of the interdepartmental BScHons (Biotechnology) degree programme.

Pass with distinction

The BScHons degree is awarded with distinction to a candidate who obtains a weighted average of at least 75% in all the prescribed modules and a minimum of 65% in any one module.

Minimum credits: 135

Minimum credits: 135

Core credits:      85
Elective credits: 50

The programme consists of compulsory modules and elective modules. Students may register for modules to the maximum of 20 credits presented by another department, which forms part of the elective modules.
The following fields are presented in the BScHons in Plant Science programme:

  • Plant Diversity (D)
  • Plant Biotechnology/Physiology (PB)
  • Plant Ecology (E)
  • Option: Medicinal Plant Science

Apart from the compulsory and elective modules, a project, leading to a research report (60 credits), forms an essential part of the training programme. One seminar (15 credits) must also be written and presented. Field excursions are undertaken.
In addition to the compulsory modules, electives are selected in consultation with the supervisor.
Suitably qualified candidates may also apply for the interdepartmental BScHons in Biotechnology degree (Code 02240393) with a supervisor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science.
Please consult Prof P Bloomer, Tel: +27 12 420 3259, for further details.

Core modules

BOT 782 Research report 782 Credits: 60.00

Module content:

Teaching and planning, execution and documentation of a research project.

BOT 783 Seminar 783 Credits: 15.00

Module content:

Literature study, discussion and oral presentation of a subject related to the main discipline.

Elective modules

BME 780 Statistics for biological sciences 780 Credits: 15.00

Module content:

The principles of experimental design as required for the selection of an appropriate research design. Identification of the design limitations and the impact thereof on the research hypotheses and the statistical methods. Identification and application of the appropriate statistical methods needed. Interpreting of statistical results and translating these results to the biological context.

BOT 700 Natural woodland and forests: Ecology and management 700 Credits: 15.00

Module content:

Definitions of woodlands and forests and vegetation and forest resources in southern Africa; Classification of forest and woodland in southern Africa; Woodland dynamics including disturbance, recruitment, growth and mortality, recovery after disturbance; Ecosystem services (microclimate and nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration etc); Sustainable forest resource management (resource assessment, socio-economic assessment e.g. wood and non-forest products, participatory resource management processes); Forest health; Monitoring of resource-use impacts and adaptive management; Development of a framework for sustainable conservation and use of non-timber forest products; Climate change and resilience. Forest disease and pathology.

BOT 705 Molecular techniques 705 Credits: 15.00

Module content:

Students are guided through the methodology of research planning and data handling.  They are offered hands-on experience in a range of advanced techniques employed in molecular research and analysis.

BOT 712 Plant nomenclature 712 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

The regulations of the International Code for Botanical Nomenclature. Principles of nomenclature. History of plant collecting. Type specimens.

BOT 714 Seed ecology 714 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Regeneration of plants from seed under natural conditions.  Early stages in the life of a plant from ovule to established seedling:  seed production; seed predation;  seed dispersal;  seed germination and dormancy, seed bank dynamics and seedling establishment.

BOT 717 Plant morphology 717 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Speciation in flowering plants; plant variation. Sex determination in flowering plants. Reproductive systems in flowering plants.

BOT 718 Introduction to plant biotechnology 718 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Plant genome: structure and composition of the plant genome (nuclear, mitochondrial and chloroplast); applications in plant biotechnology: plant tissue culture (microproagation, somatic embryogenesis and cell suspension cultures). Genetic manipulation and gene transfer technology (Agrobacterium-based and other) and DNA-marker technology.

BOT 719 Primary plant metabolism 719 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Regulation and interaction of primary plant metabolic pathways on the sub-cellular and whole plant level.

BOT 730 Plant ecology 730 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Practical applications of plant ecology principles. Designing and executing field studies. Exposure to skills of field ecology and plant identification. This module includes a compulsory 5-day field component.

BOT 741 Plant taxonomy 741 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Classification, identification and nomenclature, methodology of a revision study, analysis and presentation of taxonomic information, evolution, phylogeny and cladistics.

BOT 742 Plant classification and phytogeography 742 Credits: 20.00

Module content:

An overview of phylogenetics sets the scene, and sources of taxonomic information (morphology, anatomy, chemotaxonomy, cytogenetics, reproductive biology, palynology, ethnobotany and paleobotany) and how these data are used are discussed. This is followed by a section on the use of phylogenies as tools to understand ecological and geographical patterns and processes. Modern plant distribution patterns are assessed from the framework of the competing explanations of dispersalisn and vicariance.

BOT 746 Applications in plant biotechnology 746 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Creation of genetically modified plants and their impact on modern agriculture.

BOT 761 Advanced phytomedicine 761 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Metabolism and functions of secondary compounds such as tannins, alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids and free amino acids. Importance of secondary compounds in the defence mechanisms of plants. Isolation and identification of medicinal bioactive compounds from plants. Their current scope and potential applications in ethnobotany. Strategies to discover new pharmaceuticals from ethnomedicine.

BOT 784 Trends in plant science 784 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Literature study of recent publications in a subject related to one of the elective disciplines.

BOT 786 Practical plant identification 786 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Principles of identification, classification and nomenclature;  identification of plants;  family recognition;  collection of plant specimens for identification;  herbarium as a source of information.  Variation in seed plants and breeding systems.  Practical work involves an excursion.

BOT 788 Spatial analysis in ecology 788 Credits: 10.00

Module content:

Mapping and analysing spatial data. Theory and basic techniques of analysing and manipulating spatial data using geographical information systems. Mapping of vegetation types, species distributions and diversity, species traits. Understanding the spatial drivers of biodiversity patterns. The influence of scale on biodiversity analyses. Relevance for conservation planning for mapping biodiversity risk and prioritsing conservation, especially in a South African context.

BTW 701 Biotechnology in the workplace 701 Credits: 15.00

Module content:

Introduction to the principles and realities of working in the field of biotechnology. Discussions on various aspects, including entrepreneurship; intellectual property; patent rights; financial management; grant applications and product marketing. The module will be assessed by way of a simulated grant application for the development of a hypothetical biotechnological venture.