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Postgraduate subject

Antarctic Studies

Mātai Te Pou Tonga

03 November 2023

Examine major environmental and contemporary issues facing Antarctica.



Antarctic Studies


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 Te Moana-tāpokopoko-a-Tāwhaki Southern Ocean support a unique and complex system of life that survives in an extreme environment.

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 Aotearoa New Zealand's and the Southern Hemisphere's unique plants and animals had their origins in Gondwana.

ship cutting through ice floes in antarctica

Antarctic Studies

What will my study involve?

  • Antarctic Studies courses are coordinated by Gateway Antarctica, the Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | 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 Aotearoa; and human influences in/on Antarctica.

Antarctic Studies


Those with any undergraduate degree or professional qualification who wish to broaden their understanding of Antarctic-related matters can apply for entry to the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies, which is offered over summer and includes a community placement programme with an Antarctic host organisation.

The goal of the programme is to engage participants in a critical examination of the contemporary scientific, environmental, social, and policy issues and debates facing Antarctica.

UC also offers:

Antarctic Studies

Career opportunities

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, many of whom are scientists specialising in areas such as geology, glaciology, biology, astronomy, and environmental management.

To make their day-to-day operations run smoothly, a range of staff are employed by national Antarctic programmes – from engineers to plant technicians, finance personnel to communication managers.

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 such as 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 years.


Postgraduate Prospectus 2024

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