Antarctic Studies


Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science
Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Master of Science
Master of Antarctic Studies
Doctor of Philosophy


© Restricted/Photo courtesy of Marcus Arnold, UC field trip to Antarctica.


‌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 Southern Ocean support a unique and complex system of life that survives in an environment at the extremes.

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

Why study Antarctic Studies at UC?

Antarctic Studies courses are coordinated by Gateway Antarctica, the Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research at the 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 New Zealand; and human influences in/on Antarctica.

Anyone eligible to attend university may enrol in 100-level Antarctic Studies courses.


See all Antarctic Studies courses

100-level courses

While you cannot major in Antarctic Studies as an undergraduate student, you can take any of the following as part of any degree:

ANTA102 and ANTA103 are half-year courses and you can choose to take one or both. ANTA101 is offered as a fully online summer school course. 

200-level and beyond

ANTA201 Antarctica and Global Change is a course which requires ANTA102 and ANTA103 as prerequisites, building on the information from those two courses. It is intended for Bachelor of Science students with a strong interest in Antarctica and explores links between the Antarctic atmosphere, hyrdosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere and bioshphere. This course also considers how Antarctica will respond to global change.

Students 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 fieldwork in Antarctica. 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. 

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.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree from UC.

More information

Gateway Antarctica

Phone +64 3 369 5953

Level 7, Biology Building - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Daniel price

Daniel Price

'It has been a privilege to work in such a beautiful and unique environment with some of the leading experts in my study area...'

Jodi Gustafson

Jodi Gustafson

'Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctic research centre was a great pull for me to study at UC...'