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.

Our researchers

We have some of the brightest minds in biology including three Rutherford Discovery Fellows.

Our cutting-edge research covers a broad range of biological fields and 11 of our teachers have University teaching awards. Four have national Tertiary Teaching Awards.

Our values

  • 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 defend the principle of academic freedom as it applies to our choice of research activities, our right to hold differing points of view, and our teaching methodology. However, we also believe that collective and collaborative contributions are a powerful way to advance the core mission of the school.
  • 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.
  • We believe that all members of the school contribute to our mission and that their value 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 new staff into the school and supporting them in the establishment of their careers.
  • We are professional educators and researchers who take individual and collective responsibility to act according to our Statement of Commitments, and that of the University of Canterbury.
  • 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

Going out in the field

  1. 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.
  2. Email an electronic (Word) copy of the form to BOTH your supervisor (or field technician if your supervisor is away) and to bioladmin@canterbury.ac.nz.
  3. Nicki/Penny will retain the file and use the data on the form to enter the appropriate information into the online monitoring system.
  4. 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.
  5. If you do not actually undertake the field activity (for example because of bad weather or sickeness) please send a cancellation message to bioladmin.
  6. 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.

Additional Forms

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 and you can widen your networks with the University's LinkedIn account.

The School of Biological Sciences has developed resources for use in schools as part of the College of Science's Outreach programme.

  • See the Outreach resources page for resources to download or contact us to discuss getting an expert to visit your school.

Matthew Walters

Technician
Science Communication, Photography and Web.
Biological Sciences 432
Internal Phone: 95211

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.

Summer scholarships

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.

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 Notable Alumni page.

Our regular newsletters cover events, news and other important information of interest to all connected with the School of Biological Sciences. 

Learn from our students' experiences