About the school
We offer an intense short summer field course in practical field botany (Biology 305). The course caters for people wanting to acquire or upgrade taxonomic skills - both current students and people in the workforce. “I'm totally hooked on botany now, I absolutely loved the course!”: Marcia Dale, Ryder Consulting Limited.
About the school
With nearly 100 staff and several hundred students we are a large and dynamic school offering a diverse range of courses across undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Our national ranking
The Performance Based Research Fund ranks UC's School of Biological Sciences as the top biology department in New Zealand.
Our teaching staff are all active researchers and very passionate. Dynamic teams are leading research in a wide range of biology disciplines, from understanding nutrient flows and food webs across terrestrial-freshwater-marine ecosystems to investigating the amazingly good eyesight of jumping spiders.
Our state-of-the-art research building is packed full of equipment to help us measure, manipulate, visualise and quantify the living world. In one lab our analytical ultra-centrifuge allows us to study biomolecules and their interactions, with the team aiming to develop treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
In another lab our confocal laser scanning microscope uses fluorescent markers, bound to chemicals in live cells, to understand how cells grow and communicate.
We have some of the brightest minds in biology including three Rutherford Discovery Fellows.
Ko te Uaratanga | Our Mission
- To provide high quality education for undergraduate and postgraduate students from Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas. We strive to offer a nationally and internationally recognised integrative undergraduate curriculum that is taught by educators dedicated to using research to inform our teaching. We also work to provide a vibrant research environment led by researchers with international reputations and strong supervisory skills.
- To provide excellent research and professional expertise to the Aotearoa New Zealand and international communities, through relevant research, consulting and community engagement activities.
- To expand the frontiers of knowledge, serve as a repository for knowledge, and act as critic and conscience of society.
- To deliver on our mission objectives with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and a diverse and inclusive community.
Ko Ngā uara | Our Values
Our culture is expressed through a strong sense of whanaungatanga, the behaviour of our staff and students, and the quality of our interactions with our community. Defining expected behaviour based on a set of core, shared values is important for the School. We challenge ourselves to become more collaborative, inclusive and culturally competent, as well as showing respect for our different areas of expertise (Tohungatanga).
The School’s profile and international recognition, and hence ability to attract high quality staff and postgraduate students, will be enhanced by a strong sense of belonging to a cohesive and inclusive whanau. A shared value in a purposeful, planned and sustainable future is an important feature of the School.
The following values are central to the School and its members:
Manaakitanga | Responsibility
- We believe that the School is a team of individuals, with the whole greater than the sum of the parts. We are committed to a collective mission and common core values. We believe that all members of the School contribute to our mission and should be recognised.
- We believe that all members of the School should have an opportunity to pursue their professional goals and aspirations across the teaching-research-service spectrum, within the framework of the School’s overall objectives and values.
- We are committed to welcoming a diversity of students and staff into the School and supporting them in the development of their careers.
Tikanga | Integrity
- We believe that our reputation and success are measured by the quality of our graduates, both undergraduate and postgraduate, by the quality of our research, the reputation of our staff members and the willingness of our staff and students to serve as the public critic and conscience of society. We believe that the success of our staff is inseparable from the success of the communities we serve, and the success and well-being of our students during their studies, are of primary importance to us.
Tohungatanga | Expertise/Professionalism
- We defend the academic freedom of students and staff as it applies to our choice of research activities, our right to hold differing points of view, and our teaching methodology. We also believe that collective and collaborative contributions are a powerful way to advance the core mission of the School.
Kaitiakitanga | Stewardship
- We are committed to working actively to protect people, environment, and knowledge.
- Undergraduate students - Health and Safety should be covered in the first class or lecture.
- 400-Level Students - Health and Safety is covered in the 400-Level Induction Day.
- Masters and PhDs - decause you all start at different times, and spend a lot of time working in the school, you are required to complete the same induction as staff and visitors (see below).
- Staff and visitors - all staff and visitors (medium to long-term) are required to complete the College of Science Health and Safety induction via a brief online quiz in LEARN (UC's Learning Management System), which should be familiar to most, so it shouldn't take too long. Most of the questions test basic knowledge, so if it takes more than 10 minutes, or you get a low score (<50%), then we've identified a problem. See the Safety Officer.
Take the quiz
- Log in to Learn
- Enrol in the course with the following key: BIOL (upper case is important)
- Link to Induction Quiz - Biology (Biology)
Guidelines and forms
- Staff First Aiders
- UC emergency management website - get campus wide emergency information, emergency procedure flipcharts and contact information.
- Walk-in Freezer safety protocol (pdf 91KB)
- Guidelines on filing hazard ID forms (Word 57KB)
- Health and Safety guidelines for undergraduate students (pdf 13KB) - new version to be updated, 2018
- Minor Spills (pdf 20KB)
- Chemical spills kit (pdf 76KB)
- Hand policy (pdf 20KB)
- Biological Sciences Lone Worker Protocol 1.4
- Appendix 2: Hazard Risk Assessment & Management(Word)
Going out in the field
- Field-Activity-Plan (Word) Updated 7 July 2020 (staff and students can access this document)
- Field Activity Participant Declaration & Consent form (Word)
- Prepare your Field Activity Plan form (see above), and associated risk assessment. All off-campus field work requires this. If you do not know what is involved, discuss this with your supervisor, field technician and/or colleagues. It is quite appropriate to share knowledge/forms within groups, as long as field workers understand the risks of their work and are familiar with what they are agreeing to.
- Email an electronic (Word) copy of the form to BOTH your supervisor (or field technician if your supervisor is away) and to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nicki/Penny will retain the file and use the data on the form to enter the appropriate information into the online monitoring system.
- Enter the name of the approving staff member on the form, but there is no need to have an actual signature of the approver - in the absence of any indication to the contrary (i.e. a message to bioladmin from a supervisor stating there is a problem), we will assume that the field activity is APPROVED by the supervisor or field technician to whom the form has been copied. We are doing this to ensure that the information is lodged and entered into the on-line system in an efficient manner – so it is critical that field workers discuss their plans with their supervisor/technician so that there are no surprises.
- If you do not actually undertake the field activity (for example because of bad weather or sickeness) please send a cancellation message to bioladmin.
- If you modify your field plan then please submit a revised form.
The new system will allow key staff to access information online and make decisions should a critical circumstance arise, but only if the information on your activities is entered and accurate. The Field Activity Plan form (and risk assessment) is easily editable once created.
BioSoc is a student-led group for all people with a fascination for biology. Members do not have to be studying Biological Sciences.
Events include barbecues, quiz nights and an annual ball. We also offer tutorials and facilitate closer links between staff and students.
Find us on Facebook.
The school has Twitter and YouTube accounts, the student club BioSoc has a facebook page. You can widen your networks with the University's LinkedIn, Wechat and Instagram accounts.
The School of Biological Sciences has developed resources for use in schools as part of the College of Science's Outreach programme.
- See the Science Outreach page for bookings of our outreach modules.
The School of Biological Sciences and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens work closely together. Staff learn from each other, call on each other’s expertise, co-supervise students and take part in joint seminars.
As part of our partnership, joint summer scholarships are offered most years.
A UC Summer Research Scholarship involves working on a specific research project under the supervision of an academic staff member for approximately 10 weeks over the summer period. In addition summer scholarship students will complete a short research skills programme and will give a short presentation on their research project.
- For more information and to apply see the UC Scholarships database
Past scholarship research projects
- Understanding and enhancing mistletoe biodiversity around urban Christchurch (Juanita Miln, supervised by Dave Kelly)
- Descent into the understorey: orchid pollination in the shadows
- Pollination effectiveness and pollinator substitution in urban landscapes (Della Bennet supervised by Dave Kelly)
- Urban pollinators: rare, distracted or redundant? (Christie Webber and Amanda Peterson supervised by Dave Kelly)
- Botanic sentinels guard against biological invasions (supervised by Paula Jameson)
- Botanic Gardens not all exotic (Matt Wallace)
- Canterbury’s natural plant communities (Bronwyn Slack)
- Earthquakes and freshwater wildlife (Matt Kippenberger)
- Native or exotic? Which would you prefer if you were a pollinator? (Christie Webber and Amanda Peterson supervised by Dave Kelly)
Gain practical skills and degree points with our popular summer courses.
- BIOL 305 is an intensive, field-based course at the Cass alpine field station. It is designed to meet the need for training in the collection, preparation, and identification of botanical specimens. The course is targeted at participants with various entry levels, from students with a limited plant knowledge to experienced career professionals.
- WATR 203 This five-day course will be based primarily at UC but involve learning practical freshwater field sampling including hydrological, water chemistry, aquatic plant, invertebrate, fish and bird identification.
Our alumni can be found in a wide range of industries, reflecting the broad skill base a degree in science offers.
The School of Biological Sciences also offers an Inspirational Alumni award, bestowed on former students who have made a significant contribution in their fields.
- For a profile on a former biology lecturer with an unexpected career along with a full list of our Inspirational Alumni, see our Inspirational Alumni page.
Learn from our students' experiences
'It is just generally awesome to be in the mountains doing science in such wild places...'
'I am able to marry my passion for genetics and interpersonal skills and make a career out of it....'
'It's amazing to be situated in a city within driving distance of some of the most beautiful spots in the world...'
'I enjoy the opportunity to work out in the field and contribute to meaningful research...'
'I enjoy working with people and communicating scientific research to decision makers...'
'Go for it and meet new people, get involved, try new things and get stuck into your passion...'
'There’s a lot of exciting and innovative research that’s being carried out all the time at UC...'
'This country has a wide list of prestigious scientists that work in the field of jumping spider behaviour...'
'Lots of people here are very like-minded in their love of adventure and the outdoors...'