An understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of disease has provided modern medicine with a rational basis for diagnosis and therapy. Chemical Pathology is taught as a full year's course to medical students in their third year. The course equips students with the conceptual tools they require to understand the meaning of diagnostic tests and the actions of drugs, as well as new advances in the molecular aspects of medicine. The tutorial series is based largely on patient data, providing the student with a patient centered approach to the analysis of laboratory data.


B.Sc (Hons)

BMedSc(Hons) degrees at the University of Cape Town Medical School are offered jointly by the Departments of Pathology, Integrative Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) and Human Biology (HUB), and accommodate a maximum 40 students. Honours training and research also incorporates staff and projects in associated departments (such as Surgery and Medicine), and research groupings such as the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), and various MRC Units.

These Honours courses include:

  • Applied Anatomy
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cell Biology
  • Human Genetics
  • Forensic Genetics
  • Infectious Diseases and Immunology
  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Structural Biology
  • Physiology (including Neuroscience)
  • Radiobiology


M.Med (Chem Path)

This is a professional specialist training in Chemical Pathology for medical graduates, leading to a qualification as a pathologist recognized by the SA Medical and Dental Council. It covers basic laboratory skills, all aspects of biochemical analytical methods, molecular biology techniques , mechanisms of disease, interpretation of clinical chemistry diagnostic tests and quality control procedures.


M.Sc and Ph.D

The Department of Chemical Pathology has a very active complement of masters and doctoral students, who contribute in a major way to the vibrancy and spirit of innovation of which we are proud. The students are supervised by senior researchers in the Department and topics for postgraduate research cover a wide range of topics (see group research interests). Students participate in a regular program of seminars and journal clubs.


Intern Medical Scientist Training

The UCT Division of Chemical Pathology, in collaboration with the NHLS laboratories based at Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children’s Hospital, is accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to train Medical Scientist Interns in the discipline of Clinical Biochemistry.

The Health Professions Act (Act No. 56 of 1974) defines the scope of profession of a Medical Scientist as follows:

The development, evaluation and practice of scientific procedures involving humans, human biological material or medical equipment emphasising that acts performed by Medical Scientists will lead to or impact treatment, diagnosis and the counselling of humans (in the case of Genetic Counsellors) and, where appropriate, interpretation, quality management and consultation with other registered and appropriately qualified health practitioners.

The purpose of the Medical Scientist internship training programme is to provide a clinical and/or diagnostic environment for candidates to complete their training in order to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (as an independent Medical Scientist).

The duration of the intern training program is 24 months, on a full-time basis.

For enquiries contact:
Ms Joanne Pillay
Ms Bianca Southon