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Biological Sciences

As a Biological Sciences student at the University of Waikato you will benefit from our practical and innovative approach to teaching, as well as one-on-one time with world-renowned researchers.

Please note

From 2018 Biological Sciences will be replaced by Ecology & Biodiversity and Molecular & Cellular Biology at the Hamilton campus. Year 3 of Biological Sciences will remain available in Tauranga for students who have already begun the NZ Diploma in Environmental Management - Marine or Terrestrial (Levels 5 and 6) with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Biological Sciences

Whether you enjoy solving problems in a laboratory or working outdoors, our Biological Sciences programme will provide you with the ultimate learning environment.  Surrounded by lakes, rivers, intriguing ecosystems, and many important biological industries, the University of Waikato is uniquely placed in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island.

Waikato University’s Biological Sciences research is highly regarded internationally.  Our projects are supported by multi-million dollar investments from government and industry, many of which have significant iwi and other community involvement. These include lakes management, freshwater ecology, horticultural and agricultural research, coastal marine science and aquaculture, urban restoration, animal behaviour and physiology, medical microbiology and Antarctic ecosystems. This funding supports many student and collaborative projects, together with scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.


The University of Waikato’s School of Science is home to a suite of well-equipped laboratories. Research units and facilities within Biological Sciences include the Waikato Stable Isotope Unit, the Waikato DNA Sequencing Facility, the Thermophile & Microbial Biochemistry & Biotechnology Unit, the International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research and the University of Waikato Herbarium (a controlled environment glasshouse facility), and field centres for freshwater and coastal marine science.

Build a successful career

Careers in Biological Sciences come in many shapes and sizes, with many offering opportunities for travel.  From managing the Savannah animals at Hamilton Zoo, to working with embryos at a London fertility clinic, our graduates find jobs in exciting and challenging industries in New Zealand and overseas.  You could find a career as an ecologist managing the restoration of natural ecosystems, a physiologist aiming to understand how organisms function, or a geneticist using DNA as the key to identifying diseases or organisms.

Apply to enrol

Key information

Study Locations:Hamilton, Tauranga
Papers offered differ by location. The Catalogue of Papers has full location info.

Career opportunities

  • Agricultural Researcher
  • Biosecurity Officer
  • Environmental Microbiologist
  • Conservation Officer
  • Fisheries Scientist
  • Forensic Technician
  • Geneticist
  • Marine Biologist
  • Medical Sciences Technician
  • Plant Physiologist

Start by enrolling in the NZ Diploma in Environmental Management - Marine or Terrestrial Level 6 with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Once you've completed the full two years of the diploma with at least a B grade average, you can then apply to enrol in the University's Biological Sciences papers offered in Tauranga.

Prescriptions for the MPhil

The Master of Philosophy is a one year research-based degree in which students undertake a programme of approved and supervised research that leads to a thesis which critically investigates an approved topic of substance and significance, demonstrates expertise in the methods of research and scholarship, displays intellectual independence and makes a substantial original contribution to the subject area concerned, and is of publishable quality.

Prescriptions for the PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy is a three year research-based degree in which students undertake a programme of approved and supervised research that leads to a thesis which critically investigates an approved topic of substance and significance, demonstrates expertise in the methods of research and scholarship, displays intellectual independence and makes a substantial original contribution to the subject area concerned, and is of publishable quality.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB203Animal Structure and Function19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Tauranga)
This paper is an integrated theoretical and experimental study of the principles of animal structure and function. Comparative aspects will be emphasised in how animals adapt to their environment. Topics covered include homeostasis, the function of major organ systems, ecophysiology, musculoskeletal design and locomotion. An introd...

300 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB301Advanced Animal Behaviour19B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the development, causation, function and evolutionary history of vertebrate and invertebrate behaviour. It applies behavioural information to conservation biology and animal welfare.
BIOEB302Advanced Zoology19B (Hamilton)
An examination of the evolutionary biology of animals, including structure, function and evolutionary adaptation of selected invertebrates and vertebrates.
BIOEB303Terrestrial Ecology19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Tauranga)
A paper that explores ecological principles and the ecosystem dynamics, functioning, restoration and conservation ecology of New Zealand forest ecosystems.
BIOEB304Freshwater Ecology19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Tauranga)
An introduction to the ecology of lakes and rivers. Topics covered include the structure and function of major freshwater communities, fish and fisheries, human impacts and the management of inland waters.
BIOEB305Marine Ecology19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
An introduction to the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. The paper explores the fundamentals of ecology (e.g. disturbance/recovery, recruitment, organism interactions with their environment, nutrient cycles, limits on productivity) in a marine setting. We also cover human impacts on marine environments including fishe...
BIOEB306Molecular Ecology and Biodiversity19A (Hamilton)
An introduction to the field of molecular ecology. Lecture coverage will include the methods for obtaining DNA sequence data as well as applications for these data. Applications will include species identification for biodiversity assessments (DNA barcoding) as well as evolutionary applications such as phylogeny and phylogeography....
BIOEB307Advanced Plant Biology19B (Hamilton)
An introduction to the discipline of plant physiological ecology and the interactions between plants and their environment. Includes an emphasis on practical techniques for measuring plant microclimate, photosynthesis and growth.
BIOEB324Aquaculture19B (Tauranga)
This is an introduction to the reproductive and early life history of target aquaculture species, focusing on New Zealand fish and shellfish species, and comparing this with successful aquaculture species from tropical environments.
BIOMO301Advanced Biochemistry19B (Hamilton)
This paper builds on the principles of biochemistry introduced in BIOMO201 to examine molecular mechanisms underlying cellular communication and trafficking of proteins between organelles, cellular stress responses, cell death, and the degradation of biomolecules. Students will also examine the molecular basis of human diseases suc...
BIOMO302Advanced Genetics19A (Hamilton)
A study of advanced microbial and eukaryotic genomes, DNA topology, next generation sequencing, the expression of genes, genetic variation, inheritance patterns, human disease, complex traits, bioinformatics, population genetics, and protein evolution.
BIOMO303Advanced Microbiology19B (Hamilton)
The paper will provide knowledge of microbial functions and the role of the microbiome in human and ecosystem health.
BIOMO304Applied Animal Physiology19A (Hamilton)
The paper will provide a knowledge of mammalian physiology and its application to research in health, exercise and primary production.
BIOMO306Molecular Biology and Health19B (Hamilton)
This paper will provide the application of molecular biology knowledge and skills in the health sciences. This paper is specifically designed to bring together the areas of genetics, biochemistry, microbiology and physiology and look at how they are informing the prevention and treatment of human diseases. Throughout the paper, Uni...

500 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOL503Data Analysis and Experimental Design19A (Hamilton)
This paper will cover aspects of research design for experiments, and methods for analysis of biological data using univariate and multivariate statistical techniques.
BIOL560Freshwater Ecology19A (Hamilton)
A critical examination of issues that freshwater ecosystems face (e.g. pollution, management) and methods to mitigate potentially competing interests.
BIOL562Marine and Estuarine Ecology19C (Block)
This paper focuses on a variety of contemporary issues in marine ecology and biological oceanography, including fisheries biology and management, recruitment, ecology of disturbances, benthic-pelagic coupling, aquaculture and primary production.
BIOL565Molecular Ecology19A (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.
BIOL571Plant Physiology and Ecology19B (Hamilton)
The paper explores interactions of plants with their environment. Topics will include acquisition of carbon and water by terrestrial plants, carbon acquisition by aquatic plans, limitations to plant productivity in natural and managed environments, plant responses to environmental gradients, and the forces shaping the structure and...
BIOL572Animal Behaviour19B (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to provide students with an understanding of contemporary approaches to the study of animal behaviour, exploring literature on the function, evolutionary history, development and mechanisms of behaviour. Special attention will be devoted to developing an appreciation of experimental design and fostering...
BIOL573Conservation and Restoration19B (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to explore the general principles of conservation biology and restoration ecology, with special reference to threatened species management and approaches to restoring ecosystems impacted by human activities.
BIOL576Animal Ecophysiology19A (Hamilton)
This paper provides an introduction to specified topics in animal environmental physiology. Critical evaluation of selected readings from the scientific literature will provide a theoretical framework for the specified topics and an introduction to recent research in those fields. Students will develop an understanding of how anima...
BIOL591Dissertation19C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
BIOL592Dissertation19C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
BIOL593Biological Sciences Thesis19C (Hamilton) & 19D (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOL594Biological Sciences Thesis19C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOL595Biological Sciences Thesis19C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOMO501Biomolecular Structure and Cellular Pathways19B (Hamilton)
This paper is an in-depth examination of biomolecular structure, function, and molecular metabolism using selected examples from the biochemistry literature.
BIOMO502Molecular Genetics in Health and Disease19A (Hamilton)
This paper explores how modern molecular approaches are contributing to our understanding of molecular genetics and how this information can be exploited to benefit animal and human health.
BIOMO503Microbiomes19A (Hamilton)
This paper explores microbiomes in the environment and in association with multicellular organisms, including humans, to understand their critical ecological roles in ecosystem and host function and health.
BIOMO504Biomedical Physiology19B (Hamilton)
This paper examines select topics in human/animal physiology in the context of functioning of the organism in health and disease. Elements of molecular biology, genetics, animal models of diseases, and pharmacology are used to present students with an integrated approach to physiological research.
BIOMO511Current Topics in the Biomedical Sciences19A (Hamilton)
There is a significant amount of research addressing global biomedical challenges such as obesity, cancer, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease and microbial infections. This paper will introduce students to the issues faced by researchers in the biomedical space and the current approaches being used to come up with soluti...
BIOMO512Molecular Techniques for Environmental Science19B (Hamilton)
This paper will introduce students of diverse scientific backgrounds to current and emerging molecular analytic and diagnostic techniques used across biological and environmental sciences.
SCIEN511Scientific Supercomputing19C (Block)
A practical introduction to undertaking scientific research on a supercomputer. The paper assumes no prior knowledge.
SCIEN589Directed Study19A (Hamilton), 19A (Tauranga), 19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
No description available.

800 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOL800Biological Sciences MPhil Thesis19C (Hamilton) & 19C (Tauranga)
No description available.

900 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOL900Biological Sciences PhD Thesis19C (Hamilton), 19C (Tauranga) & 19D (Hamilton)
No description available.

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

Anne Shannon Scholarship  Closed

For students who are enrolled in their second year of full-time study in either a BSc or BSc(Tech) majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity or Molecular & Cellular Biology. Applicants must be enrolled in at least 60 points of papers coded BIOEBxxx or BIOMOxxx. The scholarship will have a value of $2,500 per year for two years.

Brian Perry Charitable Trust Undergraduate Scholarship in Science & Engineering  Closed

For students who are enrolled in the second year of full-time study towards an undergraduate degree, in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Waikato. The scholarship will have a value of up to $3,000.

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