Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Students combine degrees

Tom Mottershead imageTom Mottershead

Bachelor of Arts and Science (Maths and Music)

In Tom Mottershead’s first year at Otago he was able to study his twin passions of music and maths, but he was limited to majoring in only one for an arts or science degree.

But then Otago developed the Bachelor of Arts and Science degree (BASc) to allow students with diverse interests to combine both disciplines.

“I’d always been interested in music in a big way but I was also good at maths and wanted to major in that too,” says Tom.

“When the BASc came up it was ideal and it all worked out perfectly for me. I didn’t need to change anything in the courses I was doing but just take the papers I wanted to take anyway for a double major in four years.

I didn’t need to change anything in the courses I was doing but just take the papers I wanted to take anyway for a double major in four years.

”Lecturers were great and really responsive with answering questions and all the libraries were really good. There’s a good variety of places to study.”

Tom spent two years at a residential college and took part in a number of student-run social events, including poker tournaments where “maths came in handy with having an understanding of probability.”

He also won awards for his studies in maths and in music composition.

After graduating Tom joined an online learning platform offering alternatives to textbooks for schools but is keeping his options open.

“I’m still considering teaching, which would allow me to continue with both music and maths, but I’m also still making music.

“I’ve done a couple of music video projects that I really enjoyed creating and that have been well received on social media. I’m also pursuing an interest in gospel music production. Maybe it’ll take off. Let’s see how things develop.”

Tom follows his own advice. “Find out for yourself what your values, skills, gifts and passions are. Go with what you find enjoyable over what you might be expected to do.”

^ Top of page

India Power imageIndia Power

Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and Bachelor of Applied Science (Molecular Biotechnology)

When India Power’s interests changed part-way through her degree, she discovered that Otago’s flexible degree structure could easily accommodate her revised study plans.

“I initially wanted to study biomedical sciences and was drawn to Otago’s interdisciplinary approach to study and focus on research. While studying, I became interested in biotechnology and the application of scientific research so I changed to a BAppSc and transferred the papers I had already completed.

“Along with the sciences, I enjoyed economics at school. When I became interested in business within the biotech industry, studying economics was a natural fit.

“My interests definitely evolved while I was at Otago. Even though I started in one discipline, being able to change degrees without losing the papers I had already done meant my studies could follow my interests.”

" The wider perspective I gained reassured me that studying two subjects was worthwhile."

Going on exchange to the UK helped cement her decision to study two majors.

“I studied at the University of Edinburgh for a year and then spent three months backpacking around Europe. I learnt a lot about myself, made some amazing friends and went far outside my comfort zone. The wider perspective I gained reassured me that studying two subjects was worthwhile.”

India also took advantage of Otago’s internship programme and spent three months working at the Reserve Bank.

“I learnt a lot about central banking while putting my studies into practice. It allowed me to see where my degree could take me and opened my eyes to what I could achieve. It was incredibly inspiring and the motivation I needed to undertake a Master of Economics.

“No subject is ‘stand-alone’, they all interact in different ways. If you are interested in two subjects, you may as well take advantage of the flexibility Otago offers and follow your interests.”

Please note: India completed a double degree not a Bachelor of Commerce and Science.

^ Top of page

Tessa Aitken imageTessa Aitken

Studying for a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and a Bachelor of Arts (Chinese)

Tessa Aitken chose to study two majors to expand her future career opportunities and align with her interests.

“I lived in Singapore for most of my primary years which sparked my passion for Mandarin. In January, I returned from a nine-week immersion program in Chengdu, China. I was selected alongside other tertiary students for the Prime Minister’s Scholarship which enabled me to work in a sustainable ecotourism company in Chengdu.

“I believe a language is a gateway to the future and with an Asian-focused economy, I think my combination of Chinese and commerce will help me understand the differences in the way global businesses are run and forge better trade relationships.

"I believe a language is a gateway to the future and with an Asian-focused economy, I think my combination of Chinese and commerce will help me understand the differences in the way global businesses are run and forge better trade relationships."

“Economics was my favourite subject at school. I love keeping up with global news and believe economics is the key to understanding how the world works and operates.”

Tessa has thrown herself into many of the business opportunities on offer at Otago, including the entrepreneurial programme Audacious. She’s also the competition representative on Otago’s Commerce Students’ Association (COMSA).

“This is a great opportunity to help commerce students get the most out of their degree and have fun while doing it. I represent Otago in Case Competitions for nationals and have been selected to represent Team New Zealand Universities at the Central European Case Competition in Budapest this year. These opportunities have helped me develop more confidence in public speaking, consulting and analytical skills.”

Her advice to students unsure of what to study?

“Take subjects you are truly interested in. Otago makes it easy for you to combine different areas of study.”

Please note: Tessa is studying for a double degree not a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce.

^ Top of page