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The Department of Zoology of the Ceylon University College was established in 1924 with Mr. David Raitt Robertson Burt, a graduate of St. Andrew's University, Scotland appointed   as the Lecturer in charge of the Department. The Special degree in Zoology commenced in 1925-26, and in 1928, Wilfred Fernando and Cyril Holmes were awarded the first honours degrees in Zoology in Sri Lanka, by the University of London.

Mr. Wilfred Fernando

First Sri Lankan Zoology

Honours Graduate

Prof. David Burt was appointed the founder Chair Professor of Zoology in 1940, and when he returned to Scotland in 1947, Prof. Wilfred Fernando succeeded him in 1948, as the first Sri Lankan Chair Professor of Zoology. During the tenures of Prof. Fernando (1948-1963), succeeded by Prof. Hilary Cruz (from 1964-1967), the gradual expansion of the scope of the Department took place. In the next few decades, the Department grew in leaps and bounds under Chair Professors Ms. Mahes Ladduwahetty (1968-1972), K D Arulpragasm (1973 -1986) and W D Ratnasooriya   (1987-2014).

An Honours stream in Environmental Science was introduced in 1972, a first in the Sri Lankan University System. In 1997, Prof. Sarath W Kotagama was appointed as the founder Chair Professor of Environment Science. A third speciality study programme commenced in 2014, based on Immunology and Molecular Biology; the fourth Honours Programme, on Business& Environment, was launched in 2017 to cater to an important and emerging need in the corporate sector of Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

Prof. David R. R. Burt

Founder Chair

Professor of Zoology


Succession of chair professors of our department

Prof. Wilfred Fernando

1948 – 1963

Prof. Hilary Cruz


Prof. Mahes Ladduwahetty


Prof. K D Arulpragasm


Prof. W D Ratnasooriya


Prof. S W Kotagama


The first Science Laboratory of the Sri Lankan university system

(Right: After renovation in 2017)


Taking into consideration the emerging trends in global education development and national employment, the Department has incorporated new subject areas as well as modern teaching, learning and assessment techniques. The programme is well balanced and incorporates both in-class teaching and field-based learning components. Students also engage in many activities outside their academic programme that helps to vastly improve their communication and interpersonal skills.

Currently, the Department, staffed by 19 academics holding PhDs in diverse areas of Zoology, Environmental Science, Immunology and Molecular biology, is at the centre of the University’s teaching and research in Zoology/Biology.  As the oldest Department of Zoology in the country, with a legacy of a rich teaching/ learning and research culture, it is a vibrant, centre of excellence that trains the next generations of scientists.

Our impact is both local and global, with thousands of alumni serving as academics, researchers, teachers, practitioners, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs and corporate sector professionals.


Academic Staff


Teaching Assistants


Graduate Students


Honours Students