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Science departments and interdisciplinary programmes

A brief introduction to the departments and interdisciplinary programmes in the Division of Sciences.

Applied Science Programme

The Applied Science Programme provides graduates with in-depth knowledge, information literacy and interdisciplinary perspective, skilled in the knowledge and application of scientific principles (e.g. observation, abstraction, logic, hypothesis, experimentation and peer critique), for the benefit of people and economies of New Zealand and the World.

The programme offers 16 interdisciplinary majors drawn from across Humanities, Commerce, Sciences and Health Sciences.

Centre for Materials Science and Technology

The Centre for Materials Science and Technology was established in 2016 with staff engaged in research and teaching related to fibres, textiles, and other focuses of materials science and technology as the nucleus. Staff teach into multidisciplinary courses related to human and material interactions such as biomaterials, bioengineering, clothing and textile sciences. For career profiles please visit us.

Department of Botany

Botany covers all aspects of the life of plants. It includes their structure and development, physiology and biochemistry, genetics, health and disease, relationships with other organisms and the environment (ecology), as well as traditional aspects of plant identification and classification.

Department of Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry at Otago is widely acknowledged as one of the top Chemistry Departments in New Zealand, as exemplified by researchers receiving the Prime Minister's Science Prize in 2011.

Department of Computer Science

Computer Science graduates find that a multitude of professions are available to them - in the legal, financial and business fields through to games development, software engineering and computer graphics.

Ecology programme

An Ecology degree produces graduates with a background which will enable them to make rational judgments on ecological matters, either as professional ecologists or as educated members of the public.

Environmental Science programme

Environmental Science focuses on understanding how the environment works, so that we can minimise environmental damage in the everyday activities of modern life, or help to repair past environmental damage. Our environment is defined by extremely complex interplay of a range of different processes, all occurring at once. Hence, Environmental Science is multidisciplinary, and involves a wide range of different research areas.

Department of Food Science

The aim of Otago's Food Science Department is to prepare our students for creative, challenging, diverse and rewarding careers in the food industry and to produce the next generation of critical thinkers, industry leaders and food science researchers. At Food Science we study food using the tools of science and the machines of industry.

Genetics programme

Genetics is a rapidly progressing science; a central theme of modern biology and an indispensable component of many areas of scientific research. With a degree or qualifications in genetics you will gain marketable, valuable and desirable work-place skills that complement many aspects of science as well as commerce, law and the humanities.

Department of Geology

The dynamic geology of the South Island of New Zealand is regarded with fascination by earth scientists the world over. Teaching and Research in the Geology Department emphasises process-related research tied to the fast tempo of 'active' earth science in the South Island, and to the evolution of our unique New Zealand biota.

Department of Human Nutrition

The Department of Human Nutrition's research programmes extend beyond the shores of New Zealand with staff members involved in research as far afield as Thailand, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mongolia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

The Department has enjoyed international recognition of outstanding leadership and excellence in nutrition research for well over half a century.

Department of Marine Science

The Department of Marine Science is a multidisciplinary department with research strengths in both biological and physical marine sciences. We offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees focusing on pure and applied research in marine science, oceanography and aquaculture.

We have dedicated research facilities around the South Island of New Zealand (Otago Harbour, Stewart Island and Fiordland), but our staff and students conduct their research everywhere from Fiji to Antarctica.

Department of Mathematics and Statistics (Mathematics)

Mathematics is the study of quantities and how they are measured, combined, related, and operated upon. Mathematics investigates things like how the prime numbers are distributed, the properties of geometric figures, how dependent variables change, and what happens when you add up infinitely many terms.

Department of Mathematics and Statistics (Statistics)

Unlike mathematicians who live in a perfect world, statisticians must deal with uncertainties that are inherited in data. In general, statisticians are detectives trying to discover interesting facts from data.

Neuroscience programme

Neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system. It is a rapidly advancing and exciting field of study. Neuroscientists are discovering how our brains make us who we are, how people develop mental illnesses, what happens when brains are injured, and much more

Department of Physics

The Department of Physics teaches courses across three programmes: Electronics, Energy Studies and Physics.

Departmental research ranges from the fundamental quantum processes that underlie our very existence, through the largest explosions in the solar system, Antarctic ice, new systems for keeping tabs on endangered wildlife, supercomputers, Inverse Problems and Imaging, to the development of the next generation of energy efficient homes.

School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences

The Bachelor of Physical Education Degree is designed to enhance knowledge and understanding of movement, health, sport, physical and outdoor education, Māori physical education and dance and their various functions. Our Degree opens the door to professional and vocational opportunities in many fields including sports organisations, government departments, research institutes, primary and secondary schools, universities and private enterprise in New Zealand and around the world.

Plant Biotechnology programme

This multidisciplinary course encompasses plant physiology, plant biochemistry and plant molecular biology. It brings together the expertise of plant scientists in the Botany and Biochemistry departments and aims to produce graduates with a knowledge of the structure and function of the whole plant and the ability to apply modern molecular and biochemical techniques to the manipulation of plants of agronomic importance.

Department of Psychology

Psychology is the science that asks why people do the things they do. In our department we explore this question and offer some of the most popular and highly-rated courses at Otago and we offer a Clinical Psychology programme at postgraduate level. Many of our researchers are world leaders in their respective fields.

Centre for Science Communication

The Centre for Science Communication offers postgraduate study in Natural History Film-making and Communication, Creative Non-fiction Writing in Science, and Popularising Science.

School of Surveying

Surveying is a varied and exciting career that has a great indoor/ outdoor balance; it requires design skills, measurement skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to sift through evidence. It is a profession that is in constant demand both in New Zealand and abroad.

The school also offers programmes in Geographic Information Systems and Land Planning and Development.

Wildlife Management programme

Wildlife Management in its broadest sense is the science and practice of species conservation and restoration, as well as active management for the wise use of renewable natural resources.

Department of Zoology

Zoology is the study of animals, their behaviour, physiology and evolution, as well as their interactions with each other and their environment.

Zoologists study how animals evolved and the impact of environmental change on their survival. They also study costs and benefits of conservation and ways to enhance species survival.