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Postgraduate subject


09 November 2023

Conduct more in-depth research around native and introduced organisms in the environment.





Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and the environment. In reality, modern ecology is much broader than this, encompassing studies on individuals, species, populations, communities, and ecosystems, and includes behaviour, evolution, physiology, and increasingly molecular biology.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the study of Ecology is especially important. As a small group of islands separated from larger land masses, Aotearoa's flora and fauna evolved unique characteristics in the absence of mammals. The invasion of Aotearoa by humans and the organisms (including mammals) that they introduced has dramatically altered its ecology, leading to drastic reductions in numbers, or even extinctions, of the original animals and plants.

In addition, global climate change is affecting the ecology of Aotearoa, altering the distribution of both native and introduced organisms.


What will my study involve?


  • At UC the Ecology major is designed for those wishing to focus on any combination of ecology, behaviour, or evolutionary biology.
  • There is a strong emphasis on field based research so you learn practical skills in a real world environment.
  • A network of field stations allows research to be undertaken in a wide range of environments across Te Waipounamu South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Our staff have strong collaborations with researchers and institutions across the globe, enabling international research projects.



UC offers the following postgraduate programmes in Ecology:


See the individual qualification pages for more information on degree requirements.

Bachelor of Science with Honours majoring in Ecology

The Ecology major in the BSc(Hons) includes:

The remaining 15-point course may be selected with approval from the Programme Coordinator.

Postgraduate Certificate in Science majoring in Ecology

Complete at least 45 points of courses chosen from BIOL 420–438 for the major. In total 60 points must be completed for the PGCertSc from Ecology and/or other Science courses.

Postgraduate Diploma in Science majoring in Ecology

Both BIOL411 Research Preparation and BIOL412 Research Proposal are required, plus at least another 60 points of courses chosen from BIOL438 and BIOL 423–429. The remaining courses may be selected with approval from the Programme Coordinator.

Master of Science majoring in Ecology

Part I of the MSc in Ecology is made up of BIOL411 Research Preparation and BIOL412 Research Proposal, and at least another 60 points of courses chosen from BIOL438 and BIOL 423–429. The remaining courses may be selected with approval from the Programme Coordinator.

You will need a B+ Grade Point Average to proceed to Part II of the degree.

Part II requires ECOL690 MSc Thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Ecology

In the PhD, you will complete a thesis of original research in the Ecology field (ECOL790 PhD Thesis).


Career opportunities

Ecologists can take up a wide range of careers working for organisations such as Te Papa Atawhai | Department of Conservation, city or regional councils, universities, and Crown Research Institutes, as well as with private companies such as environmental consulting agencies.

Their work can take them to a wide range of beautiful and unique areas in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.

Related brochures

Postgraduate Prospectus 2024

Whakatairanga Tāura

Download (application/pdf, 3 MB)

International Prospectus 2024/2025

Download (application/pdf, 6 MB)
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