Postgraduate study

researchers on the ice in Antarctica

Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies

The Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies (PCAS) is a 14-week summer programme including a field trip to Antarctica.

As an in-depth, multidisciplinary programme, PCAS critically examines contemporary scientific, environmental, social and political debates focused on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Antarctic field training and the experience of living and working in a polar environment are integral components.

PCAS is aimed at graduates who wish to broaden their understanding of Antarctic matters and professionals in organisations related to Antarctic study.

Students will experience life in Antarctica at Scott Base and at a field camp on the McMurdo Shelf.

New Zealand and international experts teach on the programme, through lectures, workshops and student-led mini symposia, complemented by excursions to Antarctic venues in Christchurch. In preparation for the expedition to Antarctica, a first-aid course is completed as well as a two-day excursion into the Canterbury High Country. About ten days are spent in Antarctica, undertaking a mix of analytical and interpretive field projects and environmental monitoring.

Each student undertakes a major research project on an area of interest. Topics range from current issues in the natural sciences to social science topics, historical analyses or an engagement with Antarctic literature or arts.

A reasonable level of fitness is required for the Antarctic field component. Participants are expected to be able to complete a four-hour hike over rough terrain. The programme is limited to a maximum of 16 participants, and entry into PCAS is subject to a successful application.  Preference will be given to applicants who enrol into the Master of Antarctic Studies (MASt), a one-year degree that builds on PCAS (see below for details).

Considering the limited spaces available on the PCAS programme each year, entry into the programme is competitive.  If you are interested in the programme, you will need to complete the application form attached and submit it to Gateway Antarctica ( by 1 August.  You will also need to provide certified copies of your academic transcripts with your application.  Two letters of reference have to be sent to us directly by your referees (see reference form attached).  A decision on whether your application has been successful will be made in early September.

Peter Beggs  CEO, Antarctica New Zealand
Professor Anne-Marie Brady  University of Canterbury
Dr Paul Broady  University of Canterbury
Kerry Chuck United States Antarctic Program
Professor Bill Davison University of Canterbury
Dr Maj de Poorter University of Auckland
Dr Regina Eisert  Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury
Margaret Elliott  Artist, Wellington
Jack Fenaughty Silvifish Resources Ltd
Jeanine Foster GM Communications, Antarctica New Zealand
Dr Sally Gaw  University of Canterbury
Dr Neil Gilbert Constantia Consulting
Bernadette Hall Poet
Professor Ian Hawes University of Canterbury
Dr Alan Hemmings University of Canterbury
Professor Christina Hulbe  University of Otago
Dr Kurt Joy  University of Canterbury
Dr Elizabeth Leane  University of Tasmania
John Maillard Ara
Peter McCarthy Antarctica New Zealand
Sarah Murray Canterbury Museum
Jana Newman Antarctica New Zealand
Hanne Nielsen University of Tasmania
Dr Clive Phillips Question 4 Ltd
Ceisha Poirot  Antarctica New Zealand
Dr Ursula Rack  University of Canterbury
Dr Wolfgang Rack  University of Canterbury
Nicola Reid  Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT)
Michelle Rogan-Finnemore Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs
Gabriela Roldan  International Antarctic Attraction
Professor Karen Scott University of Canterbury
Dr Fiona Shanhun Antarctica New Zealand
Dr Patrick Shepherd University of Canterbury
Dr Gary Steel Lincoln University
Nigel Watson NZ Antarctic Heritage Trust
Kelsie Wilkinson  Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT)
Professor Gary Wilson New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI)
Dr Peyman Zawar-Reza University of Canterbury
Key dateAction
August 1                                          Applications close
End of August Candidates advised of selection
Early September Students with international qualifications apply for admission
Mid-September  Deadline for acceptance and payment of $100 deposit
October  All students apply and enrol
Early November Submit medical forms to Antarctica New Zealand
Mid-November  Course commences in Christchurch
Late November  Cass field trip, 2 nights
Late December Antarctica field trip
Late January Lectures and group work ends
Late February Project work ends
Late March Results

As part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies students complete several reports, both individually and as a group.

By the end of the course it is expected students will have met the following objectives:

  • Developed an overview of the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in the understanding and resolution of global issues.
  • Have knowledge of contemporary research activity in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.
  • Have an understanding of some of the major scientific, environmental, social, historical, legal and political issues in relation to the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean and the ways such issues are addressed.
  • Have a practical appreciation of the challenges imposed by the Antarctic environment.
  • Developed skills in group work, self-directed learning, research, seminar and professional presentations and critical analysis, reflection and debate.

Master of Antarctic Studies

The Master of Antarctic Studies (MASt) is a full-time, one-year programme which expands on and incorporates the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies (above). This degree allows students to:

  • take part in an Antarctic field expedition over the summer (as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies)
  • undertake further postgraduate courses and develop a research dissertation related to the student's area of research expertise and interest
  • complete a master's-level qualification within one year

 For details see Master of Antarctic Studies 

Doctor of Philosophy

A PhD is an advanced course of study and research which makes an original contribution to knowledge or understanding in the field of study. 

Scholarships and funding

For general scholarships see the UC Scholarships database.

For funding specifically for Antarctic-related study, see the list below.

For all enquiries please contact:

Daniela Liggett

Senior Lecturer
Julius von Haast Level 7
Internal Phone: 92170