About Us

Our Mission

The Department of Life Sciences seeks to realize the University's mission by making available, through excellence in teaching, research and outreach, high quality education and training for students of biology such that they are prepared to function as biologists in the regional and global arena.


The department aims to:

  • provide a range of advanced courses in the disciplines it embraces to students with a good general education.
  • provide coherent and rigorous programmes of study which extend over three or four years depending upon qualifications at entry.
  • expose students to recent developments in both theoretical and practical aspects of the disciplines.
  • train students in the use of scientific thinking and methodology as an effective approach to interacting with, understanding and affecting the biosphere.
  • use a variety of teaching and learning methodologies in the process of delivering its programmes of study.
  • employ a range of assessment methods and techniques, to enable students to demonstrate the depth of their understanding and their capacity for independent thought.
  • give guidance to students during and on the learning process as well as on the approach to the various disciplines themselves.

Resources for Teaching and Learning

The Department is housed within several buildings, divided into 7 blocks, with each contributing to the varying resources used for both teaching and research. These resources include:

  • A reference collection of insects for teaching and research
  • A zoology museum collection for teaching
  • A coral skeleton collection for both teaching and research
  • An Herbarium with over 30,000 specimens for both teaching and research
  • A botanical garden of over 2.5 acres and 3 experimental greenhouses
  • General and specialized laboratory equipment as well as slides, bones, skeletons, microscopes (both compound and dissecting)

Field experiments are carried out by both graduate and undergraduate students on land adjoining the botanical garden. A workshop, histology room and cold room also contribute to teaching and learning within the department.


Being an organisation with a strong field ecology and environmental programme, the Department owns and operates a fleet of vehicles which transport students into the field and bring material to the Laboratories from field collection sites. The fleet includes a 29 seater bus, a 15-seater bus and three 5 seater pickups.

Lecture Rooms

The Department of Life Sciences has a lecture theatre and six seminar rooms which are utilized for the delivery of lectures and the hosting of tutorials. In addition to these facilities, there are several others available throughout the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences that are used for the delivery of lectures.

Locate Lecture Rooms...

...within the Department

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Download PDF version of map.

Seminar Room 3 Block E, First Floor Inside and to the back of the Physiology Lab (Lab 14)
Seminar Room 4 Block G, First Floor To the right while facing the Main Office; take the stairs across from the elevator, take the first door on right, first left
Seminar Room 5 Block G, First Floor To the right while facing the Main Office; take the stairs across from the elevator, take the first door on right, straight ahead
Seminar Room 6 Block G, First Floor On your right while facing the Main Office; go up the ramp and take the stairs across from the elevator, take the first door on the right at the top of the stairs, then the fifth door on your right
Seminar Room 7 Block G, First Floor On your right while facing the Main Office; go up the ramp and take the stairs across from the elevator, take the first door on the right at the top of the stairs, the room is on your right
Seminar Room 8 Block G, Ground Floor To the right while facing the Main Office; go up the ramp, pass the elevator, proceed along the corridor; enter the second door on your right and make a sharp right
Biology Lecture Theatre Block E With Main Office on your right, it is straight ahead; to the right of Block B

...within the Faculty

Science Lecture Theatre Faculty From Life Sciences, go down the Spine and take a right after passing the Faculty Office. From the Science Library, take a right, then the next left.
Chem 5 Lecture Theatre Chemistry From Life Sciences, go down the Spine and take the third right after passing the Faculty Office. From the Science Library, turn left; the entrance is on the right.
Chem/Phys Lecture Theatre Chemistry/Physics From the Main Office, go to the other end of the Spine. Its on the left. From the Science Lobrary, turn left and go to the end of the Spine; it is on the left.
Physics Lecture Theatre Physics, First Floor From the Main Office, go down the Spine and take the left at the Science Library. After passing the Library, turn right and take the stairs on your right.

Laboratories for Teaching & Research

There are 23 laboratories in the Department; eleven are used for undergraduate teaching while 12 are used for research.

The Department of Life Sciences maintains a marine laboratory at Port Royal near the entrance to Kingston Harbour, 18 miles from the University. The Port Royal Marine Laboratory has facilities which include research rooms, a wet laboratory, an aqua-culture facility with indoor and outdoor sea water tanks with constant aeration, and an alga culture room. In addition, there is general equipment for marine research. The laboratory owns four boats, including a rigid hull inflatable boat that is used for SCUBA. The Laboratory is responsible for supplying specimens or contact hours for 40% of all courses taught in the department.

Research facilities are also available on the north coast of the island at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory. Its fleet of boats, recompression chamber, dive facilities and accommodation make it an important resource. This is operated as a central facility by the Centre for Marine Sciences.

Computing and Internet Facilities

The Department, including lecture rooms and laboratories, is fully networked.

For mobile users, wired computer network access is augmented with wireless hotspots within the department.

Students have access to two computer laboratories: one assigned for undergraduate use (Computer Room 1) and the other for postgraduate students (Computer Room 2). The undergraduate lab is open between the hours of 9:00a.m. and 5:00p.m., and is sometimes used to accommodate courses requiring computer access. Both Laboratories feature Pentium-based machines with word processing, statistical and GIS software packages.

Access to Course Material
OurVLE, a campus-wide virtual learning environment software, provides access to course material via the web. Only lecturers and registered students of the course have access to material on the OurVLE site.

Printing Services
Printing is provided for students in the Documentation Centre, which supports printing from both computer labs, and is located on the 2nd floor of Block G. Both black and white and colour printing is available at a charge to students.

The Herbarium

What is a Herbarium?
A collection of well documented, preserved (usually pressed and dried) plant samples equipped with the name (if available), date, geographical and collectors data, and is typically archived in natural history collections.

Why is a herbarium important?
Herbaria are essential for the study and verification of plant identification and classification, the study of geographic distributions, the standardizing of nomenclature (the system of naming plants), genetic research, and also to document "type specimens" (specimens of original naming).

The Life Sciences Herbarium
The Herbarium at UWI is one of two herbaria in Jamaica. It was founded in the late 1950's by Dr. Charles D. Adams, however, the collection ranges in age from the 1880's to present. It currently houses over 35,000 plant specimens collected in Jamaica, and as such, may be regarded as a small- to medium-sized herbarium. The other local herbarium is located at the Institute of Jamaica and it houses over 120,000 specimens.

Currently, a joint Life Sciences/IOJ project is seeking to digitize the collections of both herbaria and make the information accessible via the World Wide Web.