Physics building when it was first built
Faculties and schools_

Our history

Expanding scientific knowledge in Australia for over 160 years
The Faculty of Science is dedicated to the contribution of education and research of the highest quality within a comprehensive range of scientific fields.

Teaching of science at the University of Sydney is as old as the University itself, with the first professors arriving in 1852. The Faculty of Science was later established in 1882, when government funding and a substantial bequest from John Henry Challis provided impetus for the University to expand.

The first science classes only had a handful of students, but by the early 20th century there were more than 350 undergraduate students. We are now proudly one of the largest faculties at the University and ranked 2nd globally for research impact by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020.

We are committed to driving research and education programs that address key challenges in environmental sustainability, renewable energy, food security, animal health and quantum technology. Join us.


Timeline of science at Sydney

  • Early chemistry students in the laboratory.

    19th century

    1852: Teaching of science at the University of Sydney begins with the arrival of the first professors – all based in the Faculty of Arts.

    1882: The Faculty of Science is formally established.

    1890: First Chemistry Building is constructed on Science Road, now used by the Sydney Pharmacy School.

  • The Veterinary Sciences Round House, c1925

    1900 - 1969

    1910: Faculty of Veterinary Science officially opened, teaching was initial done in the then Fisher Library of the Main Quadrangle.

    1920: The Veterinary Sciences Round House was designed and later built, received the National Trust of Australia Heritage award in 2012.

    1932: The faculty grew to 353 undergraduates and six professors in physics, chemistry, zoology, geology and physical geography, botany, and mathematics (pure and applied).

    1951: First PhDs awarded to University of Sydney students, Eleanora C. Gyarfas and George F. Humphrey from Faculty of Science were among these.

    1954: The acquisition of land by the University of Sydney in Camden made way for large animal teaching.

  • One Tree Island research facility

    1970 - 1999

    1973:The Plant Breeding Institute is established to ensure the genetic improvement of cereal, legume and horticultural crops.

    1976: One Tree Island Research Station is established, operated by the University of Sydney, the relative absence of human impact makes this a valuable facility for research into reef and cay environments.

    1982: By our centenary year, we had expanded to include 31 professors, many of whom were in new disciplines. We now have nearly 300 academic staff, and over 4,000 students.

    1991: School of Mathematics and Statistics was established with the merging of the departments of Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics, and Mathematical Statistics.

  • 21st century

    2016: Sydney Nano opens, it is home to some of Australia's leading research in nanoscale science and technology.

    2018: State-of-the-art LEES1 Building is established, bringing together staff from the discipline of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences (LEES) and members of the new School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

    2018:The University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute is launched, with the aim of transforming the cultural status of mathematics in Australia.

Many of our science graduates have become eminent scientists and have made significant contributions to science in Australia and internationally.