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    • 2014
Emma Puloka

Student Profile

‘My degree will be a platform that will allow me to do what I’m passionate about...’

Emma Puloka Studying towards a BSc(Hons) in Environmental Science
(read profile)

Biological Sciences


BSc, CertSc, BSc(Hons), PGDipSc, MSc, PhD, GradDipSc


Biology means the study of living things. 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 undergone rapid change and has had a significant impact on the way we live. We are now able to produce antibiotics and vaccines, grow disease resistant crops, transplant organs and manipulate genes. Biologists today are actively researching solutions to vital concerns such as increasing world food supply, improving and protecting our environment and conquering disease. We need to know how micro-organisms, plants and animals work and how they interact on land and in the sea and freshwaters. Of increasing importance to us is global climate change and how this affects the living world.

Our courses will help prepare you for a career in biology, be it in biodiversity, biosecurity or biotechnology. You will find our courses exciting, challenging, and up-to-the minute as our lecturers are all actively engaged in research in some aspect of biological sciences.

The School of Biological Sciences

The School of Biological Sciences has modern, well-equipped teaching and research laboratories with excellent technical support. There is the full suite of molecular biology and biochemistry equipment including a real-time PCR machine, an automatic DNA sequencer, a confocal microscope, tissue culture and image processing facilities, controlled plant growth chambers, an experimental garden and glasshouse complex, and an extensive computer network. Additionally, the School contains a whole range of other equipment and facilities vital for modern studies in biological sciences. Complete refurbishment of the Biological Sciences complex was completed in 2011.

Teaching and research activities are greatly enhanced by access to field stations. Many undergraduate courses involve a fieldwork component based either at Cass, nestled amongst the Southern Alps, or the Edward Percival Field Station at Kaikoura, with sweeping views of coastal whale-inhabited waters. Field trips allow students to apply techniques and hypotheses they have learnt in lectures and to interact with staff in a more informal setting.

Staff and postgraduate students are actively involved in research on exceptionally diverse topics. These range from those of potentially practical and economic importance to New Zealand society, to those probing the boundaries of fundamental, interest-driven science.

Recommended background

Year 13 biology, mathematics (with statistics) and chemistry are strongly recommended. Students who have not completed Year 13 chemistry may find the Science Headstart chemistry summer preparatory course very useful. Some background in chemistry is valuable in most biological disciplines. For certain disciplines, some knowledge of physics is helpful. All students should have adequate English skills.

100-level courses

Of the five first-year courses, three – BIOL 111, BIOL 112 and BIOL 113 – are foundation courses and are required in order to advance in Biological Sciences. Introductory Statistics (STAT 101) is also required at 100-level to advance in Biological Sciences. Some of these courses also form part of the Intermediate requirements for Forestry and some Engineering options (the Engineering course ENCH 281). Students who have not taken chemistry to Year 13 secondary school level are strongly advised to take one Chemistry course (eg, CHEM 114).

200-level and beyond

The first-year Biological Sciences courses provide an overview of all the sciences relating to plants, animals and micro-organisms. You can then choose to follow a specialised life science stream. All biology majors must take BIOL 209. For further information on undergraduate streams and honours majors see the School of Biological Sciences.

Further study

Students with very good grades can enter the honours programme and, following a fourth year of study, graduate with a BSc(Hons). Alternatively, students with good grades can enter the masters programme. The MSc requires one year of coursework beyond the BSc, together with a thesis based on a further one year of research. An alternative route to a further qualification, after graduating with a BSc, is to enrol for a fourth year of study leading to a Postgraduate Diploma in Science. If suitable course grades are attained, the student can transfer to the second year of the MSc during which the major research project is completed.

For those with particular ability and with an interest in a career in research, a PhD could follow completion of a BSc(Hons) or MSc degree.

Career opportunities

There are wide-ranging employment opportunities. Our graduates have gone on to positions as teachers, technicians, researchers, managers and diverse other positions in agriculture, horticulture, veterinary and medical science, freshwater and marine fisheries, aquaculture, oceanography, entomology, soil biology, and food, brewing and pharmaceutical industries.

Government agencies frequently target Biological Sciences graduates. Regular employers of our graduates include Crown Research Institutes, government ministries concerned with conservation, the environment, agriculture, forestry and health, and regional and local councils.

Even if you do not gain employment in science, a Biological Sciences degree indicates you have the ability to access, understand, analyse and communicate complex information. This is attractive to many other employers. You will be taking out into the world knowledge that is vital for the healthy development of society.

For further career information, please go to


School of Biological Sciences
Telephone: +64 3 364 2500