Postgraduate study

Our postgraduate degrees help prepare you for a career across a wide range of areas. You will find our courses exciting, challenging and at the cutting edge. We have a large cohort of new staff, including three Rutherford Discovery Fellows, who bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the school.

Our staff are actively engaged in research, ensuring your projects are relevant and employ the latest methods. We have emerging and established strengths across a wide range of areas including Genetics, Evolution, Ecology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Bioinformatics, Plant Science and Cell Biology.

The school runs a weekly seminar series in seminar room 275 (Pūtaio koiora Building) on Thursdays at noon. Seminars are an important part of your postgraduate education.

Applying for postgraduate study
  • Contact the postgraduate coordinator to discuss your course of study and proposed major.
  • Apply to enrol online (current UC students). 
  • Monitor your email over summer as the course advisor may need to contact you.
  • Once you have been approved for entry you will receive a letter of offer and fees invoice.
Important dates for fourth year students

Entry into all 400-level Biological Sciences courses is subject to approval from the head of school.

  • A full description of PhD processes and milestones, including how to apply and all forms, is available from UC's postgraduate web pages.
Step-by-step guide to getting started
  • Open a bank account (for international students, and register to your embassy).
  • Bring all original academic documents and other paperwork for registration (to the student services).
  • Arrange tuition fees payment (supervisor and student services) and levy.
  • Get a student card (security building).
  • Remember to re-enrol every 12 months.
Being part of the Biological Sciences postgraduate team
  • Request keys, card access and office room (SBS administration)
  • Sign up at the Health centre
  • Register for free at the gym (Recreation centre)
  • Go to a welcome PG students meeting to get an overview of the PG services on campus and mentoring program (UCSA/PGSA)
  • Request laboratory access (administration and security services), health and safety training for labs and field work (lab managers)
  • Discuss any intellectual property issues, sign the relevant school forms, and check if research ethics forms are needed (supervisors)
  • Get internet and required software (John Davis and supervisor)
  • Find out about the academic life  (websites, Biology newsletter, supervisor)
  • Check if UC email added to SBS newsletter (administration), BIOL seminars and other seminars, Journal club,  lab meetings, proposal, progress report, one year jump, ABC, workshops (learning skills centre) and UCSA website.
  • Talk to floor manager
  • Install and get trained on EndNote for free (main library/ learning skills centre)
  • Consult the academic skills centre for free individual consultations with a learning advisor aiming to maximise your writing skills (especially useful for non-native English speakers).
  • Enjoy your new UC life!

Academic Postgraduate Studies Committee 2017

  • Tammy Steeves
  • Jim Briskie
  • Paul Gardner
  • Paula Jameson
  • Hazel Chapman

Biological Sciences Student Postgraduate Committee 2017

  • Melissa Broussard (Committee Chair), PG committee rep, Research committee rep
  • Nixie Boddy, Staff committee rep
  • Phoebe Argyle, Teaching and Learning committee rep
  • Brandon Goeller, Health and Safety/ PPP committee rep
  • email

The mentor programme will pair you up with a current biology postgraduate student who can be your guide to the department, postgrad life and just a friendly face. If you are interested, please contact the student committee (email above) to be linked with a mentor.

IT and graphics support
  • For IT support contact John Davis
  • For graphics support contact Matt Walters
Employment opportunities
  • Postgraduate students in Biological Sciences can be employed as demonstrators in undergraduate laboratories. A full list of labs including numbers required will be updated at the beginning of every academic year.  See Learn for details.
  • A certain number of lab supervisors are also required every year.  Contact the school administration office for information.
  • Postgraduate students can sometimes be employed on a fixed term contract as a research assistant depending on demand and funding. 

There are a number of small grants and scholarships that are offered to ongoing postgraduates to help with research costs, travelling to conferences, or just a top up of personal money. If your supervisors are from different departments or institutions you may be eligible to apply for scholarships from all of those departments/institutions. Some societies, such as the Royal Society of New Zealand, provide grants to conferences. Also, conferences themselves often offer travel grants to students who are presenting.

Of particular interest to Biological Sciences postgraduate students:


Personal money

Travel awards


GPA – Grade point average; Part one – Papers; Part two – Thesis;
RP – An acceptable Research Proposal.

Normally the courses chosen must be closely related to and prepare the student for the project/thesis research.
The due date for the BSc(Hons) project is November 1, except as modified when a student takes papers other than BIOL.
To be eligible for Honours the Master's thesis must be completed in 12 months (full-time).
The minimum/maximum duration of a full-time PhD is 24/48 months.
A student, who has completed Part 1, and transfers to a PhD, may apply for award of PGDS.
The normal commencement date for MSc Part 2 is the beginning of a semester. For students only offering Part 2 the start date can be at any time, but if not at normal enrolment times a start date must be registered (forms). If there is a break between Part 1 and Part 2 a start date must be registered (forms).
For the MSc concurrent option the start date for the thesis is the same as for Part 1 (start of Semester 1). The due date for the thesis is 24 months.
For transfer from MSc to PhD the commencement date will be back-dated to the date at which the MSc was started.
Progress reports in SBS are normally required every 6 months. Due dates are the first Monday in April and first Monday in October.
A student must be enrolled when they hand in their thesis. Thus any extensions of the due date incur more fees!

  • Entry Qualification: Normally B+ average for 200- and 300- level BIOL and Science courses (GPA= 6) + RP.
  • Weighting of courses vs thesis: 4:1
MSc consecutive part one and two
  • Entry Qualification: Normally B average for 200- and 300-level BIOL and Science courses (GPA = 5).
  • Progress Part 1 to 2 Qualification: B average for 400-level courses (GPA = 5) + RP.
  • Weighting of courses vs thesis: 2:3
MSc concurrent part one and two
  • Entry Qualification: Normally B+ average for 200- and 300- level BIOL and Science courses (GPA= 6) + RP.
  • Progress Part 1 to 2 Qualification: Maintenance of B+ average for 400-level courses expected (GPA = 6).
  • Weighting of courses vs thesis: 2:3.
MSc by thesis only
  • Entry Qualification: B average for 400-level courses (GPA = 5) or equivalent for non-UC students + RP.
  • Entry Qualification: Normally B- average for 300-level BIOL and Science courses (GPA = 4).
  • Progress Part 1 to 2 (MSc) Qualification: B average for 400-level courses (GPA = 5) + RP.
Changing from MSc to PhD
  • Entry Qualification: Completed Part 1, at least 6 months in MSc Part 2, full written account of progress so far + RP.
  • Entry Qualification: BSc (Hons) First (GPA=7-9) or Two-One (GPA=6); MSc First (GPA=7-9) or Two-one (GPA=6) + RP.

For all enquiries about postgraduate study please contact:

Prof Elissa Cameron

4th year Coordinator
Animal Behaviour
Julius von Haast Rm 234
Internal Phone: 95596

Tammy Steeves

Associate Professor
Postgraduate Coordinator
Julius von Haast 533
Internal Phone: 95378