The web of life

Biomedical Sciences is an interdisciplinary degree that promotes understanding of the scientific basis of health and disease in humans, providing students with a sound and comprehensive grounding in the key principles underpinning modern biological and medical research and their potential applications in biotechnology.

What does a degree in Biomedical Sciences involve?

Biomedical Sciences is the degree that links the papers relevant to an understanding of the scientific basis of health and disease in humans.

You can combine papers from two or more disciplines into one of six exciting and innovative majors—the 'web' that underpins modern biological and medical research.

The degree aims to equip graduates with the skills required to meet the constantly changing boundaries of modern biosciences.

Where can a career in Biomedical Sciences take you?

As a graduate of Otago's BBiomedSc degree, you will have a wide variety of career options, both in New Zealand and overseas. You might choose to apply for graduate entry to medicine or other health professional programmes, or to continue research-based training in one of Otago's internationally acclaimed biomedical departments.

Your working life might begin with an innovative biotechnology company or with a more established company in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, or agricultural sectors. Alternatively, you might be employed by a research institute, in a university, government agency or local authority and use the scientific skills you have learned during your studies to provide policy, technical or diagnostic advice.

Many of our graduates are professional scientists in a wide variety of different fields. Some are studying medicine, dentistry, optometry and forensics. Some have opted for a research career—first completing a postgraduate BBiomedSc(Hons) degree and then continuing with PhD studies.

BBiomedSc graduates are also working as research scientists, teaching fellows, research assistants, science technicians and product managers.

Undergraduate study in Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical Sciences is the interdisciplinary approach to sciences. Six majors spanning the spectrum of biomedical sciences and grounded in the research strengths of Otago are available.

Drugs and Human Health

This major gives an overview of the role of drugs in human health. Drug use is increasing with the ageing of the population and with its increasing affluence. As drug use increases, the search for new agents has widened from traditional sources such as plants and animals, to new sources utilising new technologies in pharmacology, biochemistry, and immunology.

Functional Human Biology

Ultimately, human health depends on the normal functioning of the cells, tissues, and organ systems of the body. Understanding of disease rests upon knowledge of dysfunction within body systems, but dysfunction is understood in the context of normal function. This major provides an overview of the mechanisms of normal and abnormal functioning of all systems of the human body and explores specific areas in depth, with a research-informed focus.

Infection and Immunity

The study of microbes responsible for infectious diseases and their control is an important area in biomedical sciences. Important infectious or microbial diseases in New Zealand include invasive meningococcal disease, tuberculosis, rheumatic heart disease, and AIDS. Topics include the characteristics and properties of pathogenic microbes, antibiotic resistance, and immunology (and its relevance to the prevention and control of microbial and other diseases, such as cancer).

Molecular Basis of Health and Disease

This major explores the molecular basis of human metabolism and investigates the biochemical aspects of cellular communication related to human health and disease. Some of the topics covered include pathways of cell growth, survival and death, protein interactions in cell signalling pathways, dysregulation of metabolism, the expression of disease phenotypes, and protein-based drug design.

Nutrition and Metabolism in Human Health

This major covers the physiology and biochemistry of nutrition, dietary assessment, and nutrition and its relevance to human health. Topics covered include protein and amino acid requirements and nutritional issues, assessment of nutrient status, energy requirements and balance, and the role of lipids and carbohydrates in metabolic disorders.

Reproduction, Genetics and Development

This major focuses on understanding the interplay between genes and structure in reproductive and developmental processes. Topics covered include the biology of reproductive systems, formation of embryos, genetic control of developmental processes, transgenic plants and animals, and a range of anatomical and molecular genetic techniques.

A BBiomedSc degree provides an excellent grounding for those students who wish to apply for graduate entry to health professional programmes such as dentistry, medical laboratory science, medicine, pharmacy, or physiotherapy, or for those students who wish to pursue an advanced research-based degree.

Postgraduate study in Biomedical Sciences

The Bachelor of Biomedical Science with Honours (BBiomedSc(Hons)) degree is a one-year, postgraduate programme. With its focus on hands-on biomedical research, it is widely regarded as an excellent choice for students wishing to continue on to PhD studies.

The Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBiomedSc) degree is a one year thesis-only postgraduate programme. It provides excellent hands-on training in research as preparation either for work in biomedical research or for students wishing to continue on to PhD studies.

Postgraduate degrees in Biomedical Sciences can be undertaken at our Dunedin, Wellington, or Christchurch campuses.

Find a postgraduate research project and supervisor

Further information

The Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences qualifications page has more detailed information about studying Biomedical Sciences at Otago. Postgraduate Biomedical Sciences degrees can be undertaken at our Dunedin, Wellington, or Christchurch campuses.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at School of Biomedical Sciences:

Tel +64 3 479 4205

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