Community Health
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Division of Community Health​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The BScMedScHons (Hyperbaric Medicine) degree programme​

This programme is presented over a 2-year period for part-time students and over a 1-year period for full-time students. 

Successful completion of the degree programme enables you to register hyperbaric medicine as an additional qualification with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).  The entry requirement for the course is the MBChB (or equivalent) degree and meet the requirements set for entry into each specific module.  For the purposes of practical training the candidate also need to have a certificate of fitness for hyperbaric exposures.

The course consists of different modules, each of which you are able to do separately.  Some modules however require previous modules as entry level.

Practical training (where applicable) takes place in a Hyperbaric Centre, where candidates will receive hands-on training in the evaluation of patients for HBO therapy and working with chambers.  We envisage that various hyperbaric centres would be accredited around the world for training.  This means that the contact time may be decentralized in future.

The following modules are presented in the programme:

1.    Basic Hyperbaric Medicine:

This module has a distance training element, as well as contact time of four days.  The processes for evaluating patients for possible benefit from HBO therapy are covered and the practical training focuses on the techniques of examining such patients.  Contact sessions are usually scheduled over a weekend, to ensure that General Practitioners are not influenced in their practice unnecessarily. 

The exit outcome for this module is a hyperbaric medical examiner.  The successful candidate will be able to evaluate any patient and provide an opinion whether that patient will benefit from HBO therapy or not. 

2.   Operational Hyperbaric Medicine:

This module's outcome is "competence in hyperbaric medicine", which means that the candidate will be able to manage patients in a hyperbaric chamber.  He or she will be able to manage common chamber-related emergencies and provide appropriate care for the patients receiving HBO therapy.

3.   Advanced Hyperbaric Medicine:

This module "takes it to the next level".  Complicated medical issues regarding the hyperbaric environment are addressed and the cutting-edge research issues are put on the table.  The candidate completing this module will have expert knowledge in the field of Hyperbaric Medicine and can act as a consultant.  The unexplained hyperbaric medical issues can then be further addressed in research projects.  The candidate gets an introduction to research methodology in the next module. 

4.   Research Methodology:

This module serves to introduce the candidate to basic research methodology (Epidemiology and Biostatistics).  The person would be able to critically appraise research documents (e.g. journal articles) they read and they will practice the basic research methodology by presenting a small research project (The purpose is to show mastering of the basic research methodology and not necessarily the answering of a specific research question - for this purpose the candidates are advised to limit their project to a descriptive study, rather than analytic). 

The MSc (Baromedical Sciences) degree programme

This programme is a research-based Master's Degree.  The candidate can take the initial research project for the BScMedScHons degree further to the level of a Masters' degree, or do a completely different research project.  The research project should be analytical in design.  This serves to further the field of Hyperbaric Medicine academically as well as answering some of the important questions we still have. 

Articulation with other programmes

The Research Methodology module can be used for any other research-related programmes/ projects.  This module is shared with the BScMedScHons (Underwater Medicine) programme.  Some of the physics and physiology covered in this programme is identical or similar to the physics and physiology of the underwater medicine programme.  The last-mentioned course focuses purely on the medical aspects of the underwater world.  See​ for more details.

Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL)

Grandfathering and RPL is done as follows:

You need to contact the Programme Coordinator, Dr Jack Meintjes (, who will direct you through the process.  The application needs to be forwarded to the Secretary of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch (Mr Coetzer).  He will forward the relevant documentation to the department, who will consider the candidate's prior training.

All of the policies and procedures regarding RPL will be forwarded to candidates upon request.