Brief History of the UPNG School of Natural & Physical Sciences
The University of Papua New Guinea commenced academic programs in 1966 with a Preliminary Year and undergraduate studies in the Faculties of Arts, Education, Law, and Science. Science consisted of the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. Later, Geology (1973) and Environmental Sciences (1982) were added to the Faculty. Environmental Science and Geography merged in 2004.
Today, the School of Natural and Physical Sciences comprises the Disciplines of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences and Geography, Earth Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, and Physics.
Students continue to undertake their first year in the Science Foundation Year before either moving into their second year programs at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Taurama, or continuing their studies within the School. The Science Foundation Program is also available through the Open College campuses – NCD Open Campus, Mt. Hagen Open Campus and the Honiara Open Campus, in the Solomon Islands, via distance learning. Commencing in the 2015 academic year, the Science Foundation Year is now offered in the Enga University Centre, Enga Province, via distance learning.
The early teaching programs included students in the first two years of Forestry and the first three years of Agriculture, before transferring to the PNG University of Technology in Lae, Morobe Province.
The School also contributed to teacher training via the Education Faculty with a small number of courses, until Education was transferred to the University of Goroka, when it was established.
First Graduates of the School
The University of Papua New Guinea’s first graduation ceremony was held in 1970 and included four sciences and two Master of Science graduates. The first Ph.D. graduate was in 1974, and the first national Ph.D. graduate was in 1983.
Important research centers and facilities include the Motupore Island Research Centre, the Natural Sciences Resource Centre, the Centre for Biodiversity and Natural Products Research, the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, the National Fish Collection, the Remote Sensing and GIS Centre, the Disaster Reduction Centre, the Geological Collections, a Meteorological site, chemical analysis facilities, specialized IT/computer laboratories, as well as the TB5/6 complex and greenhouse. The ‘Science in New Guinea’ Journal commenced publication in 1973 and continued until 2010.
The School of Natural and Physical Sciences has developed a wide range of collaborative arrangements with a number of national and international universities.
Under Graduate Programs
- Bachelor of Science (Major in Biological Sciences)
- Bachelor of Science (Major in Earth Sciences)
- Bachelor of Science (Major in Environmental Science & Geography)
- Bachelor of Sustainable Development
- Bachelor of Science (Major in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science)
- Bachelor of Science (Major in Physics)
- Diploma in Comprehensive Hazards and Risk Management
- Postgraduate Diploma in Science
- Bachelor of Science Honors
- Masters of Science
- Doctor of Philosophy
Research and Consultancy
The School also houses several research centres – the Biodiversity and Natural Products Research Centre, the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Centre, the Disaster Reduction Research Centre, and the Motupore Island Research Centre.
The staff of the School are involved in carrying out research in collaboration with various national and international organisations, and in providing consultancy services to various public and private organisations.
The Executive Officer
School of Natural and Physical Sciences
The University of Papua New Guinea
P.O. Box 320, University Post Office, 134
National Capital District
Papua New Guinea
Phone:  326 7333