Biology means the study of living things. Biologists investigate animals, plants, and microbes in many different ways, and on a huge range of scales from molecules and cells to individual organisms, populations, and ecosystems.
During the past few decades, the study of biology has undergone rapid change and has had a significant impact on the way we live. We are now able to produce antibiotics and vaccines, grow disease-resistant crops, transplant organs, and manipulate genes. Biologists today are actively researching solutions to vital concerns such as increasing world food supply, improving and protecting our environment, and conquering disease.
We need to know how microorganisms, plants, and animals work and how they interact on land and in the sea and fresh waters. Of increasing importance to us is global climate change and how this affects the living world.
Our courses will help prepare you for a career in biology, be it in biodiversity, biosecurity, or biotechnology. Our lecturers are all actively engaged in research on diverse and exciting topics. These range from those of practical and economic importance to Aotearoa New Zealand society, to those probing the boundaries of fundamental, interest-driven science.
The School of Biological Sciences | Te Kura Pūtaiao Koiora has modern, well-equipped teaching and research laboratories with excellent technical support. The full suite of molecular biology and biochemistry equipment includes:
- a real-time polymerase chain reaction machine (or DNA amplifier)
- an automatic DNA sequencer
- a confocal microscope
- tissue culture and image processing facilities
- controlled plant growth chambers
- an experimental garden and glasshouse complex
- an extensive computer network.
Out in the field
Teaching and research activities are greatly enhanced by access to field stations. Many undergraduate courses involve a fieldwork component based at Cass in Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana the Southern Alps. Field trips allow students to apply techniques and hypotheses they have learnt in lectures and to interact with staff in a more informal setting.
Year 13 biology, statistics, and chemistry are strongly recommended.
For certain disciplines, some knowledge of physics is helpful.
All students should have adequate English skills.
The first-year Biological Sciences courses provide an overview of all the sciences relating to plants, animals, and micro-organisms.
Of the five first-year courses three are foundation courses and are required in order to advance in Biological Sciences:
- BIOL 111 Cellular Biology and Biochemistry
- BIOL 112 Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
- BIOL 113 Diversity of Life
STAT 101 Introductory Statistics is also required at 100-level to advance in Biological Sciences.
Some of these courses also form part of the Intermediate requirements for Forestry Science. Students who have not taken chemistry to Year 13 level are strongly advised to take one Chemistry course (eg, CHEM 114 Foundations of Chemistry).
200-level and beyond
You can choose to follow a specialised life science stream, honours major or endorsement such as Animal Behaviour, Animal Physiology, Biochemistry, Biosecurity, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Microbiology, and Plant Biology.
All biology majors must take BIOL 209 Biological Data Analysis.
Our graduates have gone on to positions as teachers, technicians, researchers, and managers; and diverse other careers in agriculture, horticulture, veterinary and medical science, freshwater and marine fisheries, aquaculture, oceanography, entomology, soil biology, and food, brewing, and pharmaceutical industries.
Government agencies frequently target Biological Sciences graduates. Regular employers of our graduates include Crown Research Institutes, government ministries concerned with conservation, the environment, agriculture, forestry and health, and regional and local councils.
A Biological Sciences degree indicates you have the ability to access, understand, analyse, and communicate complex information. This is attractive to many employers.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Biological Sciences.
See the School's website for up-to-date location details.
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
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