Discover our history

The Faculty then

Teaching of science in the University began in 1852, when the first professors - all based in the Faculty of Arts - arrived. The Faculty of Science itself was established in 1882, when government funding and a substantial bequest from John Henry Challis provided impetus for the University to expand.

Fifty years later, there were 353 undergraduates and six professors in physics, chemistry, zoology, geology and physical geography, botany, and mathematics (pure and applied). By 1982 (the centenary year) this had expanded to 31 professors; many of whom were in new disciplines. The Faculty now has nearly 300 academic staff, and over 4,000 students.

The Faculty now

The Faculty's diversity of specialisations, the strength of its research, and extensive liaison with other institutions and industry have positioned it as a leading provider of education across the spectrum of the sciences. A significant level of funded research through the Cooperative Research Centres and the Australian Research Council, amongst other bodies, underpins this commitment.

Major facilities that support the Faculty's research include astronomical field stations, the Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis, the Sydney University Macromolecular Analysis Centre, One Tree Island Field Station on the Great Barrier Reef, various state-of-the-art spectrometry facilities, extensive specialist workstations and database networks, and computer graphics systems.

In addition to the range of specialisations offered by the Faculty's numerous Department and Schools, innovative interdisciplinary programs are offered, and these include studies in the areas of Optical Fibre Technology, History and Philosophy of Science, Marine Studies, Environmental Science and Computational Science.

The Faculty has established active collaborative programs and international links with teaching and research organisations. Formal staff and student exchange agreements operate with institutions in the USA and Asia.