Map NZ Map World

Environmental Sciences

The pressure on our environment is increasing as the human population grows.  Environmental Sciences provide a basis for understanding environmental problems, and finding solutions to them.

Coming to the Bay of Plenty: From 2019 Environmental Sciences will also be offered as a major for the BSc in Tauranga. Contact us for more information on the papers available in Tauranga.

The growing human population is expected to exceed 9 billion within the next 40 years.  The need to provide for increasing human demands, while protecting and sustainably managing the environment, is one of our greatest global challenges. Environmental Science is at the core of this challenge.

A major in Environmental Sciences at Waikato encompasses ecology, earth sciences, and environmental chemistry as well as many other disciplines. It is about understanding and managing human impacts on our land, biodiversity, freshwater, oceans, atmosphere and climate while providing the food, water, energy, and mineral resource needs that are critical to our survival.

At Waikato we take a strong interdisciplinary approach so you will gain skills in applying the biological, chemical and earth sciences to understand and manage the impacts of human activities on the environment.

Waikato is a great region in which to base your Environmental Science studies. We have easy access to a wide range of natural environments as well as some of the most intensive farming and processing industries in New Zealand. Our field trips and study examples include coastal estuarine environments, the Waikato and Waihou Rivers, a wide range of lakes. World heritage listed Whangamarino wetland, leading international examples of predator pest control at Maungatautere, and many native forest ecological restoration sites are all within easy reach of the University of Waikato.


As an Environmental Sciences student at the University of Waikato, you will have access to the University's well-equipped laboratories, becoming familiar with complex research equipment and techniques. You'll be working alongside, and learning from, well-respected researchers, industry professionals and academics.

Apply to enrol

Key information

Study Locations: Hamilton; Tauranga

Career opportunities

  • Agricultural Adviser
  • Biosecurity Officer
  • Coastal Resource Manager
  • Consent Planner
  • Environmental Analyst
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Hydrologist
  • Oceanographer
  • Water Resource Manager

Prescriptions for the PGCert(EnvSci), PGDip(EnvSci), BSc(Hons), MSc, MSc(Tech) and MSc (Research)

Students in masters degrees are normally required to take a thesis and a selection of papers. SCIE501 is compulsory, and it is strongly recommended that students include ENVS524. Normally, no more than 60 points from outside the field of Environmental Sciences may be taken as part of an MSc, MSc(Tech) or MSc(Research) in this subject. Candidates for these graduate qualifications should select their papers in consultation with the Graduate Convenor.

To complete a BSc(Hons) in Environmental Sciences, students must complete 120 points at 500 level, including at least 60 points from the papers listed for Environmental Sciences, of which at least 30 points must be in research (normally ENVS591).

100 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB102Introduction to Ecology and Biodiversity18B (Hamilton)
An introduction to the principles of ecology and biodiversity. Topics include population, community and ecosystem ecology, conservation biology, and the structure, functioning and environmental responses of animals and plants. Examples will include New Zealand ecosystems and biota.
BIOL102The Biology of OrganismsThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
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.
CHEM100Chemistry in ContextThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
CHEMY100Chemistry in Context18A (Hamilton)
This is an introductory paper for students with a limited background in chemistry. There is a strong emphasis on teaching chemical concepts through real-world examples relevant to different science and engineering disciplines.
CHEMY101Structure and Spectroscopy18A (Hamilton) & 18C (Hamilton)
A theoretical and practical course covering aspects of analytical and inorganic chemistry. This course is required for the chemistry major.
EARTH101Introduction to Earth System Sciences18A (Hamilton)
A lecture and laboratory paper that explores the interacting processes that affect the surface of the Earth, producing landforms and resources, with a focus on physical processes. Topics covered include coastal processes and hazards; climate change; weathering; erosion and mass movement; soil formation; the hydrological cycle; rive...
EARTH102Discovering Planet Earth18B (Hamilton)
This paper explores the Earth's interior and its dynamic interaction with the crust, including: the major rocks and minerals; interpreting the rock record and geologic maps; the geological time scale and fossils; plate tectonics; volcanism; earthquakes.
ENVS101Environmental ScienceThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ENVSC101Environmental Science18B (Hamilton)
A scientific study of the interaction between humans and the environment including climate change, utilisation and exploitation of natural resources and the effects of human activities on biological, chemical and physical processes that form resources and control ecosystems.
ERTH103Discovering Planet EarthThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ERTH104Earth and Ocean EnvironmentsThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
GEOG103Resources and Environmental SustainabilityThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
STAT111Statistics for ScienceThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB202Principles of Ecology18B (Hamilton)
This paper covers the principles of ecology, including adaptation to the environment, intra- and inter-specific interactions, community and ecosystem dynamics, and biogeography. Weekend field trips and computer laboratory work are essential elements.
BIOL212EcologyThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
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...
CHEM200Analytical Tools for the Life and Environmental SciencesThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
CHEM261Environmental Chemistry and GeochemistryThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
CHEMY204Analytical Chemistry18A (Hamilton)
This paper covers aspects of analytical chemistry including characterisation using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass-spectrometry (MS); qualitative and quantitative analysis of mixtures using gas chromatography (GC) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
EARTH221Soil Science18B (Hamilton)
An introduction to the nature, formation, and classification of soils, their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and biological properties, and issues of soil quality, land degradation and sustainable management.
EARTH231Water Resources, Weather and Climate18A (Hamilton)
New Zealand's water resources are coming under increasing pressure for human use, while their management requires that they also provide for healthy freshwater ecosystems. This paper describes the key physical processes that influence the distribution of water in space and time from a New Zealand perspective. Topics covered include...
EARTH241Oceanography18B (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to the broad scale properties, issues, and research importance of the global ocean via the main disciplines of oceanography: particularly biological, chemical, geological and physical oceanography
EARTH251Spatial Analysis in Geosciences18A (Hamilton)
An introduction to quantitative spatial analysis in the geosciences, including production of maps and cross-sections of geomorphology and Earth materials from field and aerial image interpretation, use of 3D models of Earth materials, and an appreciation of volumes and stresses in the Earth's crust.
ENVSC201Environmental Monitoring18B (Hamilton)
An introduction to reasons for, and design and implementation of, environmental monitoring in New Zealand. Skills in data collection, management, presentation, and interpretation are developed for a range of environments using both field data collection and published data-sets.
ENVSC202Environmental Chemistry and Geochemistry18A (Hamilton)
This paper is a broad introduction into environmental chemistry and geochemistry including the formation of the elements, chemical evolution of Earth, modern Earth surface processes, fossil fuels and biomarkers, global biogeochemical cycling, atmospheric chemistry and global climate change.
ERTH233Soils in the LandscapeThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ERTH234Soil Properties and their ManagementThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ERTH242OceanographyThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ERTH245Weather and ClimateThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ERTH246Introduction to HydrologyThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
SCIE279Preparation for the Professional WorkplaceThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018

300 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOL312Applied Terrestrial Ecology18A (Hamilton) & 18A (Tauranga)
A course that explores ecological principles, ecosystem dynamics and functioning, restoration, conservation genetics, conservation ecology, forest ecosystems, pest control and protection of native species.
BIOL313Applied Freshwater Ecology18A (Hamilton) & 18A (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.
BIOL314Marine Biology and Monitoring18B (Hamilton) & 18B (Tauranga)
An introduction to the structure and function of marine ecosystems. This paper also covers human impacts on marine environments, including fisheries, as well as the design of ecological surveys and experiments. Field trip and practical classes are integral to the course.
ERTH333Pedology and Land Evaluation18B (Hamilton)
Soil genesis and spatial variability, quantitative soil survey and soil-landscape modelling, soil taxonomy, and the interpretation of soil and land data in a form applicable to land-use planning and management.
ERTH334Soil and Land Management18A (Hamilton)
Analysis and interpretation of soil properties relating to land and environmental management. Soil fertility, soil water management, land treatment of wastes, soil degradation and remediation, soil nitrogen and phosphorus cycling.
ERTH343Coastal Geomorphology and Management18B (Hamilton) & 18B (Tauranga)
A study of the geomorphic development of coastal features. Topics include qualitative and semi-quantitative assessments of coastal hazards, impacts of sea-level rise, dredge spoil disposal, stability of coasts, coastal protection and mitigation of hazards.
ERTH344Coastal Oceanography and Engineering18A (Hamilton)
A study of water movement in estuarine and shelf environments. Methodologies for quantifying processes and responses for coastal planning and management. Evaluation of design conditions for engineering purposes. Introduction to numerical modelling.
ERTH345Catchment Hydrology18A (Hamilton)
A study of the measurement, analysis and modelling of surface hydrological processes at the catchment scale, emphasising river flow, evaporation, interception loss and hillslope runoff processes.
ERTH346Freshwater Resources and Hazards18B (Hamilton)
Overview of freshwater resources and their analysis, with some emphasis on groundwater resources; introduction to hydrological hazards including flood hazard analysis and river contamination modelling.
SCIE371Science Work Placement 1This paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
SCIE372Science Work Placement 218C (Hamilton)
This paper requires a period of work experience in an appropriate and approved industry or applied field. Assessment is by written reports and employer feedback.
SCIE373Science Work Placement 318C (Hamilton)
This paper requires a period of work experience in an appropriate and approved industry or applied field. Assessment is by written reports and employer feedback.
SCIE374Science Work Placement 418C (Hamilton)
This paper requires a period of work experience in an appropriate and approved industry or applied field. Assessment is by written reports and employer feedback.
SCIE379Reflection on Professional Workplace Experience18A (Hamilton)
This paper will encapsulate post-placement reflection and will focus on reflective learning from the placement experience, self-assessment outcomes initiated in the pre-workplace paper, portfolio completion, skill-gap revisited, career mentoring/direction, CV update, next placement selection process.

400 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
LEGAL434Environmental Law18A (Hamilton)
An examination of the general principles of the law concerning natural and physical resources, sustainable development, pollution control, town planning and Treaty of Waitangi principles.

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.
BIOL560Freshwater Ecology18A (Hamilton)
A critical examination of issues that freshwater ecosystems face (e.g. pollution, conservation, utilisation) and methods to mitigate potentially competing interests.
BIOL561Aquatic Ecosystem Modelling18B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the different types of models that may be applicable in aquatic ecosystem modelling, including statistical, empirical, and process-based models. The key steps to setting up a model application are covered as well as the limitations and pitfalls of each type of model. Applications of the models are demonstrated f...
BIOL562Marine and Estuarine Ecology18C (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.
BIOL563Aquatic Field MethodsThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
BIOL564Restoration Ecology18B (Hamilton)
This paper focuses on aspects of the health, vitality, resilience and restoration of ecosystems. Topics covered include restoration principles, theory and practice, lake restoration, river and stream restoration, wetland restoration and forest restoration.
BIOL570Plant Ecology18A (Hamilton)
Contemporary and advanced topics in plant ecology, including the structure and functioning of plant communities, species and community distribution theory, vegetation dynamics, vegetation surveying and data analysis.
BIOL573Conservation Biology18A (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to explore the general principles of conservation biology, with special reference to threatened species, aquatic animals and plants.
BIOL577Aquatic Toxicology18B (Block)
This paper provides an introduction to specified topics in aquatic toxicology, including toxicology analysis and bioaccumulation. Critical evaluation of selected readings from the scientific literature will provide a theoretical framework for the specific topics and an introduction to recent research in those fields. Students will ...
BIOL581Microbial Ecology18A (Hamilton)
This paper covers molecular microbial ecology, stable isotopes in microbial ecology, metagenomics, biogeography, and other current topics in microbial ecology.
CHEM516Isotope GeochemistryThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
CHEM517Applied and Environmental Analytical Chemistry A18A (Hamilton)
A critical examination of analytical methodologies for organic substances, eg pesticides, with special reference to the commercial context.
CHEM527Applied and Environmental Analytical Chemistry B18B (Hamilton)
An advanced study of instrumental analytical techniques for organic and inorganic compounds and comparison of their efficacies.
ENMP543Environmental Technology Water and Wastewater 118A (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENMP544Environmental Technology Water and Wastewater 218B (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS524Environmental EvaluationThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
ENVS589Directed Study18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS590Directed Study18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS591Dissertation18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS592Dissertation18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS593Environmental Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS594Environmental Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ENVS595Environmental Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
No description available.
ERTH524Volcanic Processes and Hazards18A (Hamilton)
A study of volcanic landforms, physical characteristics of volcanic deposits, processes associated with eruption, transport and deposition of volcanic products, and volcanic hazards in active volcanic regions.
ERTH528Quaternary: Past Environments18A (Hamilton)
This paper examines environmental change during the Quaternary - the last 2.6 million years - and analyses some important methods and evidence used in reconstructing past environments using a stratigraphic framework and geochronology.
ERTH533Soil and Greenhouse Gases18B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the role that soils and their management play in the production and consumption of greenhouse gases, including a specific focus on the importance of solid carbon.
ERTH535Land and Soil Evaluation18A (Hamilton)
This paper examines how soil and land may be evaluated to provide an improved understanding of sustainable land management, taking into account productivity and environmental goals.
ERTH547Introduction to Hydrological Modelling18B (Hamilton)
Optimal use of water resources is an essential part of national economic development. Hydrological science is considered with emphasis on techniques of water resource studies through hydrological model construction and simulations.
ERTH548Ecohydrology18A (Hamilton)
Ecohydrology is the interdisciplinary study of the interactions between water and ecosystems. It views water, carbon and energy as essential ingredients for living systems, and recognises that ecosystems may modify the hydrological systems of which they are a part. This paper bridges the gap between hydrological, soils, ecological ...
ERTH562Coastal Sedimentation18A (Hamilton)
This paper addresses modern contentious issues of coastal sedimentation and sedimentary processes within a range of sedimentary environments. Both fundamentals and applied contexts are examined.
ERTH563Coastal and Estuarine Processes18A (Hamilton)
This paper provides an understanding of processes controlling movement of water in the ocean, including longwaves, baroclinic and barotropic circulation, wind-driven processes, surf-zone waves and currents, and nearbed currents in the coastal ocean.
ERTH564Coastal and Freshwater Modelling: Physical Approaches18C (Hamilton)
This paper examines the use of conceptual, empirical and numerical models of coastal systems.
POLS504Gender, Justice and the EnvironmentThis paper will not be taught in 2018
This paper will not be taught in 2018
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.

Kathleen Martinez I’m in a lab the same amount of time, if not more than I’m in lectures each week, which really helps me retain the information I’m learning.

Read stories from other students

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

DairyNZ Masters Scholarship  Closed

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.

Dr Stella Frances Memorial Scholarship  Closed

For students who are enrolled or are intending to enrol in the final year of a masters degree at the University of Waikato and are undertaking research that applies to the conservation or environmental issues in the Waikato region. The scholarship will have a value of up to $5,000.

Golden Plover Wetland Research Award  Open

For students who are enrolled part- or full-time in a honours or masters degree at any New Zealand University and are conducting research in any aspect of ecology or management of wetlands. The scholarship will have a value of up to $1,000.
Closing Date: 01 Nov 2018

Science and Engineering Masters Fees Awards  Closed

For students enrolling full-time in the first year MSc (research), MSc, MSc (Tech) ME or MEnvSci programme in the faculty of Engineering. Part-time applicants may be considered but any scholarship awarded will be on a pro-rata basis. The Scholarship will have a value of up to $2,000.

Tess Embling Memorial Scholarship  Closed

For full and part-time students, who are enrolling or have enrolled in the first year if a masters degree in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The scholarship will have a value of up to $1,500.

The Hicks Scholarship  Closed

For students who are enrolled or intend to enrol at any New Zealand University to undertake the research portion of their Masters degree in agriculture, horticulture, arborculture, viticulture or animal husbandry. The Scholarship will have a value of up to $15,000.

Whanganui River Enhancement Trust Scholarship  Closed

For students who are enrolled full-time and are undertaking research towards a Masters thesis, Honours degree or Postgraduate Diploma. Candidates must be resident in New Zealand for the tenure of the scholarship and their research should relate to the Whanganui River Catchment.

Beef + Lamb Undergraduate Scholarship  Closed

For students who are studying towards a bachelors degree and/or an honours year in agriculture, science (including food technology), business and social science disciplines. These disciplines may lead to careers in the livestock, meat and related agribusiness sectors. The Scholarship is for up to four years and will pay full annual tuition fees, up to $5,000 per year.

Sparling Doctoral Completion Scholarship in Environmental Studies  Closed

For students enrolled in a PhD in the area of environmental studies, natural sciences, but not marine or volcanic studies, in any faculty of relevance at the University of Waikato. Applicants must have completed at least three years of their thesis and be submitting their soft-bound thesis for examination within four years.

University of Waikato George Mason Charitable Trust Scholarship  Closed

Expressions of Interest are sought from students who are intending to enrol full-time in a 120-point masters thesis or a PhD and have a particular interest in one of the specific research areas outlined in the regulations.

Looking for more scholarships?

Visit our Scholarship Finder



Faculty of Science & Engineering

Phone: +64 7 838 4625 / 0800 438 254