Careers in Data Science and Data Engineering

Currently, the university offers the following undergraduate degrees. 

​​Data Engineering

Stellenbosch University offers a BEng degree in Data Engineering.

The purpose of the focus area in Data Engineering is to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution where the work environment has fundamentally changed and there is a flood of data that needs to be structured, modelled and analysed for data-driven organizations, to discover the underlying knowledge. Data Engineering contains all the tasks required to make data available for analysis, knowledge discovery and decision-making processes. The most important task of a data engineer is to develop and maintain an organization's data pipeline systems and implement algorithms to transform data into a usable format for analysis. The tasks of a data engineer include data collection, data storage, data synchronization, data transformation, data cleaning, data management, and data model development. 

This requires a considerable set of technical skills, including in-depth knowledge of database design and various programming languages. Data engineers are often responsible for building algorithms to provide easier access to structured and unstructured data, but it requires an understanding of the goals of an organization using large datasets. Data engineers need excellent communication skills to connect with different stakeholders inside and outside the organization to understand what Big Data business leaders want to earn and also to present their findings in a way the audience can easily understand. 

Throughout the degree, the focus area in Data Engineering is built on the foundations of Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. Students develop the engineering skills to create mathematical, physical, and statistical models of real systems, including data systems. After obtaining the qualification, Stellenbosch University's Data Engineers can integrate these areas of knowledge to critically analyse complex systems to come up with innovative solutions to problems. This degree is accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa and hence, is recognized through the Washington Accord.

For more information, contact Mr August​​ Engelbrecht:​. 

​Find an article about this degree here.

Data Science

Stellenbosch University offers a BDatSci degree.​

Data Scientists use data, statistical and programming skills in order to discover useful information for their organization. In order to unwrap these useful information, data scientists must understand the life cycle of data from data creation to data analysis. BDatSci is a four-year degree programme that will be offered in four faculties, namely the Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences, AgriSciences, Arts and Social Sciences, and Science. With a degree in Data Science, graduates can put their skills to use to solve real-world problems in fields as diverse as genetics, healthcare, e-commerce, finance, government or retail, to name but a few.The programme will offer a diverse student cohort the opportunity to gain knowledge of foundational modules in core disciplines such as statistics, computer science and mathematics, and they will also be exposed to new technologies and concepts in the field of data science. Together with this solid foundation, students will choose a focal area within a data-rich environment and this will mean that they obtain the necessary domain knowledge in their chosen field. For more information, see

Submitted for approval and accreditation by HEQC, CHE and SAQA – planned first intake 2021. 

BDatSci applicants for first year in 2021 must apply for BCom Mathematical Sciences (focal area: Data Science).

For more information, contact Prof Paul Mostert:​

Click here for more information.

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Stellenbosch University offers an Interdisciplinary BSc (Stream: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology) – first intake 2020. ​

Bioinformatics matured as a discipline in response to the requirements of the genome sequencing efforts that started in the 1990s. The analysis of the enormous volumes of genome data required computational approaches to identify genomic features such as genes and regulatory sequences, an exercise known as genome annotation. The application of computational methods quickly expanded to other areas in biology, and facilitated the study of the expression level of all genes in a cell or tissue, or the level and post-translational modification state of all proteins in a cell. This allows a deep insight into the regulation of the chemistry in a cell. Bioinformatics also allows the analysis of the evolutionary relationship of species, and the geographic migrations and interaction between species over several millennia, including that of the human cousins Homo sapiens, H. neanderthalensis and H. denisovans. Furthermore, bioinformatics allows the study of the relationship between specific mutations or the methylation state of genomic loci and the presence of defined disease states. This, together with the fact that specific mutations influence the efficacy of a therapy, ushered in the era of personalised medicine. The application of bioinformatics to the genome data of new-borns will have a revolutionary impact on public and personal health over the next decade.

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that is sometimes seen as Data Science applied to biological data. However, apart from fluency in coding, data storage and analysis within a rigorous statistical framework, bioinformatics also requires significant biological insight. A bioinformatician will have a thorough understanding of cellular metabolism, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, protein and RNA structure, cellular energetics and more. In other words, in addition to computer science, mathematics and statistics, a bioinformatician will also have substantive training in biochemistry, genetics and microbiology.

For more information, contact Prof Hugh Patterton: