The Faculty of Science was set up in October 1974 at Vaddukoddai in the premises taken over from the Undergraduates’ Section of the Jaffna College. The first batch of students numbering 103 was admitted to the Faculty on October 25, 1974 and only a course in Mathematics and Statistics was provided initially. The late Professor P. Kanagasabapathy functioned as the first Dean of the Faculty and the Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. After the appointment of Heads of Departments and a few Assistant Lecturers for some of the other disciplines in Science, courses in physical science and bioscience were started in 1975. Thirty-five students were admitted to these courses in the academic year 1975/76. As the facilities available in the small laboratories at Vaddukoddai were grossly inadequate for work beyond the First Year Courses and future development at Vaddukoddai was not possible due to acute shortage of freshwater and space, a decision was taken to put up new buildings for the Faculty of Science at Thirunelvely where the Faculty of Humanities and the administrative offices were sited.
The Faculty shifted to the Thirunelvely premises in June 1978 soon after the completion of the Natural Science Block (Stage I), the foundation for which was laid on May 07, 1975. In 1977, funds were voted for a building to the Department of Physics and this building came into the occupation in September 1980. Funds were also voted for two other buildings in 1979, one for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the other for the Department of Chemistry. The Mathematics block was completed in 1985. The Chemistry Block was completed in 1988. The Natural Science Block (Stage II) was opened for academic activities in 2013. The foundation for the building to the Department of Computer Science was laid on June 27, 2019 with the World Bank-funded AHEAD operations. The construction of the building is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.
The Faculty of Science consists of seven departments namely, Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Fisheries, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Zoology. The Faculty receives the services of 95 academic staff, 59 academic-support staff and 80 non-academic staff. More than 95% of the permanent academic staff possess postgraduate qualifications, of which nearly two-thirds are PhD holders. The annual intake of students to the Faculty had increased to 500 over the years and it was about 250 in the mid-eighties. Since 2009, the Faculty is flourished with the intake of students from all parts of the Island representing all ethnicity which added a conducive multicultural environment in the Faculty to foster and promote social harmony. Under the President’s scholarship scheme, few international students have also been admitted to the Faculty since 2016. The current student population at the Faculty is over 1300.