What can I do with a degree in Biological Sciences?

Biological Sciences student

Biologists investigate animals, plants and microbes in many different ways and at a huge range of scales - from molecules and cells to individual organisms, populations and ecosystems. During the past few decades the study of biology has changed rapidly and has had a significant impact on the way we live. Biologists are researching solutions to vital concerns such as increasing world food supply, improving and protecting our environment and conquering disease.

Our courses will help prepare you for a career in biology, be it in biodiversity, biosecurity or biotechnology.

Through their Biological Sciences degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Advanced written and oral communication skills
  • Critical analysis of information
  • Cooperation, teamwork and leadership
  • Numeracy and statistical analysis
  • Computing
  • Innovative thinking
  • Ability to solve complex biological challenges.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major, through field courses and trips. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

There are wide-ranging employment opportunities for biologists. Recent UC Biological Sciences graduates have gained roles in:

  • National and regional government bodies eg, Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries, Statistics New Zealand, Environment Canterbury, Waikato-Tainui Te Kauhanganui
  • Tertiary institutions and secondary schools
  • Crown Research organisations eg, Plant and Food Research NZ, Environmental Science and Research (ESR), Landcare Research, Scion, Callaghan Innovation
  • Biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical companies eg, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Applied Research Associates NZ, ENZTEC, Baxter Healthcare
  • Agribusiness and food manufacturing eg, Landcorp, Ngāi Tahu Holdings Ltd, Genetic Technologies Ltd, Fonterra, Three Boys Brewery, Meadow Mushrooms, United Fisheries
  • Consultants and engineering firms eg, AECOM, Boffa Miskell, Downer, EOS Ecology
  • Not-for-profits eg, BirdLife International, Cancer Society of New Zealand, World Wildlife Fund
  • Laboratory services eg, Eurofins NZ, Canterbury Southern Community Laboratories
  • Public and private organisations around the world.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs from the lab to the field. See examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Field / laboratory technician

  • Plans and carries out research experiments with guidance
  • Maintains and calibrates equipment
  • Liaises with scientists and industry personnel
  • Collects and collates data, and drafts reports

Laboratory manager

  • Manages laboratory staff, budgets, workloads
  • Maintains and updates lab documentation
  • Ensures safety and quality standards
  • Reviews methods and validates results

Ecologist, biologist, environmental scientist

  • Develops scientific solutions to problems
  • Carries out field and lab tests, records data
  • Conducts analysis and writes technical reports
  • Interprets regulations and monitors compliance

Secondary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Biosecurity officer

  • Prevents the introduction of pest plants and animals into a country
  • Monitors geographical entry points and transport vessels
  • Supervises the destruction of pests

Medical laboratory technician

  • Carries out tests on samples eg, blood, tissue
  • Communicates results to patients and/or medical professionals

Biotechnology technician

  • Tests micro-organisms and monitors data
  • Develops and tests methods
  • Assists with developing new products

Resource management / consents officer

  • Ensures adherence to environmental regulations
  • Processes resource consent requests
  • Manages stakeholder engagement processes

Science communicator

  • Presents science topics to various audiences eg, publicising research findings
  • Manages educational programmes eg, exhibitions, outreach events, seminars
  • Produces content eg, media releases, videos

Scientist

  • Develops scientific solutions to problems in diverse fields from genomics to marine science
  • Carries out field and lab tests, records data
  • Conducts analysis and writes technical reports
  • Communicates results/impacts to various audiences such as policy analysts and the public

Data analyst, bioinformatician

  • Analyses data and models techniques to solve problems
  • Gains insight across differing domains for decision-making purposes

Quality manager

  • Ensures that products, processes and systems meet quality standards
  • Develops policies and procedures
  • Solves problems, makes decisions and supports others to achieve these standards

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Biological Sciences subject page