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What is anatomy?

Anatomy is one of the oldest disciplines in the world and an essential component of all the professional degrees, including Medicine, Dentistry and Physiotherapy.

But that is only part of the story!

Anatomy is more than just bones and muscle. It's about us. Our story. From our ancient genes to the physical and neurological diseases that affect us today.

We teach subjects that cover:

  • How life begins (Reproduction, Genomics and Development)
  • How our bodies work (Clinical Anatomy)
  • How our brains control how we think, feel and do (Neuroscience)
  • The journeys our ancestors took to get here and how those journeys impact human variation and health today (Biological Anthropology)

If you like subjects like Biology, Health and Physical Education, and even History, you'll love Anatomy.

There are a number of exciting ways you can experience what Anatomy is while you are still at school:

Otago University Advanced School Sciences Academy

SnowBoarder226_lScience Academy is an exciting programme aimed at Year 13 students with a passion for science and the potential, and commitment to excel in their final year NCEA and/or scholarship science exams.

It's open to students who attend a small or  rural/provincial or lower decile (≤6) school.

You attend two residential science camps on University of Otago campus (The first late January the second mid July). For the rest of the year you will be enrolled in our 'Virtual Academy' where you will have access to additional stimulating and exciting web-based extension material co-coordinated by our dedicated teaching fellows.

The Anatomy Department runs a project during science camp. It's called 'Control of Movement' and it's run in collaboration with the Physiology Department.

More information on this programme can be found at OUASSA

Hands-On At Otago

Hands-On At Otago is a week long summer camp for senior secondary school students.

230 students from all over the country come and stay in one of Otago's residential colleges.

Each morning of Hands-On at Otago students participate in a research project based in one university department. In the afternoons there are other social and science activities to keep everyone very busy.

knee-pain-226pxIn recent years the Department of Anatomy project has focused on the knee: from the naked eye (macroscopic) right down to what is only visible with the electron microscope (really really tiny). Students get to dissect a knee joint (a deer knee joint), work in a histology lab, learn how to drive a microscope, and many other valuable skills.

For more information go to Welcome to Hands-On at Otago

Tertiary Information Day

Tertiary Information Day happens in early May every year at Otago.  A large number of people come from out of town to visit the Info Day as it's a way to see the University in action.

It's during term time so students get to experience the unique buzz of the Otago campuses in action. There are talks and presentations throughout the day, as well as tours of departments and an interactive expo.

More information on Dunedin Tertiary Information Days.

International Science Festival

university_of_otago_masters_anatomy_student_zin_au_with_full_body_paintEvery two years, Dunedin hosts the International Science Festival.  As part of the festival the University of Otago runs a two day interactive science expo.

This involves about 30 different displays and events all demonstrating cool stuff about science, including great demonstrations by Anatomy staff and students.

Come along to our interactive display, and discover just how fascinating anatomy is!

Witness dissections of a deer heart and a lamb's brain, paint your “insides” onto a t-shirt, and see how your bones, muscles and organs all fit together.

We also run tours of the W.D. Trotter Anatomy Museum during the festival. A walk around the museum brings to life the wonders of the human body. It's also a bit weird, and if we do our job right a tiny bit scary. So get ready to learn, laugh, and get a little creeped out.

More information on the International Science Festival go to the website

Department research

You can also check out our research pages to see what our top researchers and their students are studying. If something really jumps out at you, you can contact them directly to ask questions.

Biological Anthropology Group

Clinical Anatomy Group

Neuroscience Group

Reproduction, Genomics and Development Group

Quick fact

Otago is the only university in New Zealand that offers a BSc in Anatomy.

Events for high school students and parents


A full list of events put on by the University - along with a lot of other good information - can be found at Thinking About Otago?

Smart from the start

The most important thing when choosing to go to university is to pick subjects that interest you and a degree that will get you where you want to go.

We have a team of dedicated course advisers who can help you.

You don't have to wait until you get to University, or even be certain you want to do Anatomy, our team are happy to talk to anyone, anytime. We even have a Skype account so it doesn't matter where you live.

Course advice

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