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Molecular and Cellular Biology

Molecular and Cellular Biology is an interdisciplinary field combining biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and physiology to study how cells function at the molecular level.

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Molecular and Cellular Biology explores the complex mechanisms that coordinate the essential systems that define a living cell and that allow cells to have differentiated properties. This knowledge is used to look at how unicellular and multicellular organisms function and how it can provide researchers with crucial insights into the basis of human and animal diseases.

By studying a major in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Waikato, you will:

  • Gain a detailed knowledge of the molecules of life and the relationship between the structure and function of biomolecules;
  • Understand the subcellular and cellular organisation of eukaryotic cells and the key catabolic, anabolic and metabolic cellular processes that occur;
  • Learn how to distinguish between the genetic organisation and gene expression of viruses, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes, and describe the mechanisms of inheritance and evolution;
  • Be able to describe the anatomy and physiology of mammals and other organisms, and the mechanisms behind certain diseases.

Along with relevant subject knowledge, you will also gain a range of critical thinking skills, and practical learning experiences from our range of challenging and innovative papers and programmes. There is a significant laboratory component to the Molecular and Cellular Biology major, where you will learn relevant skills and be exposed to some of the latest techniques available.

Teaching is research-led, and you can expect to be taught by world-class researchers. Research strengths within Molecular and Cellular Biology include active programmes within molecular biology, structural biology and protein engineering, neuroendocrine processes that underlie food intake and biomedical related research relevant to veterinary and human medicine.


We have extensive laboratory facilities, including:

Build a successful career

Molecular and Cellular Biology graduates find employment in New Zealand working in industry or for government related institutes and agencies, while others go on to graduate study or travel overseas. Future employers of graduates include local and national government bodies (e.g. Waikato DHB), Crown Research Institutes (e.g. Plant and Food, NIWA and AgResearch), analytical laboratories and a range of primary industries.

Apply to enrol

Key information

Study Locations: Hamilton

Career opportunities

  • Agricultural Researcher
  • Plant and Food Researcher
  • Biochemist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Quarantine Officer
  • Chemical Analyst
  • Laboratory Technician

Prescriptions for the PGCert(Molec&CellBio), PGDip(Molec&CellBio), BSc(Hons), MSc, MSc (Res) and MSc(Tech)

Students in masters degrees are normally required to take a thesis and a selection of papers. Enrolment in papers towards the BSc(Hons) is only by invitation of the Graduate Convenor. Candidates for these graduate qualifications should select their papers in consultation with the Graduate Convenor.

To complete a BSc(Hons) in Molecular and Cellular Biology, students must complete 120 points at 500 level, including at least 60 points from the papers listed for Molecular and Cellular Biology, of which at least 30 points must be in research (normally BIOL591).

100 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB101Concepts of Biology18A (Hamilton)
An introduction to the foundations of biology, including the structure and functioning of cells, evolution, the origins and diversity of life, and a tour of the major forms of life and their defining characteristics.
BIOMO101Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology18B (Hamilton)
An introduction to the central concepts of Molecular and Cellular Biology, including the ultrastructure and function of cells, the biochemical processes involved, and the role of DNA in cellular function, inheritance and evolution.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOMO201Biochemistry18A (Hamilton)
The aim of this paper is to familiarize students with the structure and function of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates (as fundamental molecules of life). Students will be introduced to molecular techniques used to study these molecules and gain an appreciation of how they interact in living organisms in health and d...
BIOMO202Genetics18B (Hamilton)
This paper deals with genetics in the widest sense from the molecular and cellular to the applied and evolutionary. Both prokaryote and eukaryote genetics are discussed with respect to DNA replication, hereditary, gene expression and control, and the role of mutations at both the DNA and chromosomal levels. The paper provides a pat...
BIOMO203Microbiology18A (Hamilton)
This paper will focus on microbial cell structure, function, and metabolism. Content and context will be drawn from both human and environmental examples. Students will acquire skills in microbiological laboratory techniques, data collection, data analysis, and report presentation. This paper is required for the Molecular and Cellu...
BIOMO204Cell and Organ Physiology in Health and Disease18B (Hamilton)
This paper integrates basic cell physiology with organ-based physiology and histology, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of the structure-function relationships in physiological processes. Intercellular communication, tissue/organ structure and systems physiology will be discussed in the context of health and di...

500 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOL503Data Analysis and Experimental Design18A (Hamilton)
This paper will cover aspects of research design for experiments, and methods for analysis of biological data using univariate and multivariate statistical techniques.
BIOL565Molecular Ecology18A (Hamilton)
This paper is open to students interested in molecular ecology, systematics, and environmental molecular biology. Topics covered include conservation and evolutionary genetics, molecular ecology, and phylogenetics.
BIOL574Mammalian Physiology18A (Hamilton)
This paper examines selected topics in the physiology of humans and other mammals. Students will develop an understanding of physiological control systems and the integration of mammalian structure and function.
BIOL575Applied Topics in Physiology18B (Hamilton)
This paper examines selected topics in the applied physiology of mammals, especially reproduction and lactation, in association with researchers in industry. Students will develop an understanding of the application of physiological knowledge and principles to commercial and medical technologies.
BIOL580Human and Applied Microbiology18B (Hamilton)
This paper explores topics on human-microorganism associations and interactions from an ecological perspective and various applications of microbiological knowledge.
BIOL581Microbial Ecology18A (Hamilton)
This paper covers molecular microbial ecology, stable isotopes in microbial ecology, metagenomics, biogeography, and other current topics in microbial ecology.
BIOL582Biomolecular Structure and Function18A (Hamilton)
An in-depth examination of biomolecular structure and function using selected examples from the biochemistry literature.
BIOL583Molecular Biochemistry and Metabolism18B (Hamilton)
An in-depth examination of molecular biochemistry and metabolism using selected examples from the biochemistry literature.
BIOL584Molecular Genetics18A (Hamilton)
This paper explores how molecular biology and bioinformatic research contribute to our understanding of molecular genetics. Subjects covered include molecular technologies, comparative genomics and evolution, epigenetics, genetic diversity, genetic diseases, pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine.
BIOL585Human Genetics18B (Hamilton)
This paper explores the genetics of human evolution, adaptation and disease. The topics will extend from classical population genetics into contemporary areas of molecular biology and bioinformatics. Particular attention will be paid to key genetic changes that occurred during hominid evolution, polymorphic variations and disease s...
BIOL588Special Topic18A (Hamilton), 18B (Hamilton) & 18C (Hamilton)
Guided individual study on an aspect of biological sciences.
BIOL590Directed Study18D (Hamilton)
Students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of their own interest under the guidance of academic staff.
BIOL591Dissertation18C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
BIOL592Dissertation18C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
BIOL593Biological Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOL594Biological Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOL595Biological Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
SCIE501Research Methods in the Sciences18B (Hamilton)
This paper will enable students to develop the necessary communication skills and familiarity with research methods and practice to allow them to progress to the thesis component of a masters degree in the sciences, or to extend communication and research skills in those not taking a full research degree.

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

DairyNZ Masters Scholarship  Open

For students who are enrolled in the final year or have completed a Bachelors degree in Science, agricultural science, agricultural business or economics and are eligible to enrol in a masters degree at a New Zealand University. Up to three scholarships of $30,000 will be available each year + tuition fees.
Closing Date: 10 Aug 2018

Hamilton Zoo - University of Waikato Science & Engineering Scholarship  Closed

For students who are enrolled full-time and have completed the second year of the Bachelor of Science (Technology) degree. The scholarship will have a value of $14,000 and a one year placement with the Hamilton Zoo.

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Faculty of Science & Engineering

Phone: +64 7 838 4625 / 0800 438 254