Not a subject major or minor at undergraduate level
Of all places in the world, none holds the fascination and awe of Antarctica. Not only is Antarctica the highest, coldest and most isolated continent, but it is so vast it affects the world's climate and ocean currents. If the ice sheets were to melt, as is currently predicted in many climate models, the sea would rise up to 70 metres above current levels. The Antarctic and surrounding Southern Ocean support a unique and complex system of life that survives in an environment at the extremes of life.
However, Antarctica has not always been the cold, isolated, polar continent it is today. In the past it has experienced warmer climates and was linked to other continents, most notably as part of Gondwana. The fragmentation of that supercontinent shaped the southern continents as we know them today. Many of New Zealand's and the Southern Hemisphere's unique plants and animals had their origins in Gondwana.
Antarctic Studies courses are coordinated by Gateway Antarctica, the Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research at the University of Canterbury. Gateway Antarctica plays a leading role in the quest for knowledge in a diverse range of national and international Antarctic research projects, in areas including engineering in extreme environments, Antarctica as driver of, and responder to, climate change, connections between Antarctica and New Zealand, and human influences in/on Antarctica.
While you cannot major in Antarctic Studies, you can take ANTA 102 and ANTA 103 as part of any degree. ANTA 102 and ANTA 103 are half-year courses and you can choose to take one or both. ANTA 101 is offered as a fully online summer school course. There are also two second-year courses, ANTA 201 Antarctica and Global Change and ANTA 202 Experiencing Antarctica.
Students with any undergraduate degree who wish to broaden their understanding of Antarctic-related matters can apply for entry to the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies, which includes a trip to Antarctica.
Anyone eligible to attend university may enrol in 100-level Antarctic Studies courses.
ANTA 201 Antarctica and Global Change is a course which requires ANTA 102 and ANTA 103 as prerequisites. ANTA 201 builds on the information from ANTA 102 and ANTA 103 and is intended for BSc candidates with a strong interest in Antarctica. The course explores linkages between the Antarctic atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere and biosphere, and considers how Antarctica will respond to global change.
Antarctic Studies also forms a significant component of some courses from other disciplines, including GEOL 480 Geological Evolution of New Zealand and Antarctica and LAWS 336 Antarctic Legal Studies.
Gateway Antarctica offers the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies over summer, which involves a 10-day field trip to Antarctica. The course is aimed at students who have a degree or professional qualification and who wish to broaden their understanding of Antarctic-related matters. The goal of the course is to engage participants in a critical examination of the contemporary scientific, environmental, social and policy issues, and debates facing Antarctica.
An in-depth knowledge of Antarctic issues can form a useful part of many careers in science, politics, tourism, education and law. There are a large number of people who visit the Antarctic every year, the majority of whom are scientists specialising in different areas for example, geology, biology, astronomy and environmental management. To make their day-to-day operations run smoothly a whole range of staff are employed, from electricians, engineers, mechanical services technicians, vehicle mechanics, meteorologists, plant technicians, and finance personnel to chefs, boat handlers, diving officers, communication managers and field assistants.
Having a degree and some background knowledge in Antarctic Studies will give you a greater opportunity to visit and work in Antarctica. It provides you with information on global systems that is becoming fundamentally important in many non-Antarctic jobs. It might also be important for science technicians, IT specialists and law or policymakers. The important role the polar regions play as drivers of the world's climate will be a major consideration in many careers in the coming decade.
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers