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Study Biochemistry at Otago

If you’ve ever wondered how living things work, where they get their energy from, how they make the components they need or what it is that your genes do, then Biochemistry is for you.

Biochemists apply molecular approaches to understand life and death, how cells can be turned into bio-factories, how to make improved crops, how trillions of cells assemble to form you, why you get old, and what causes diseases like cancer.

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Why study Biochemistry?

Biochemistry occupies a central place in the life sciences. It is fundamental to our understanding of the structure, function, and development of all life. It doesn't matter which area of biology you are interested in, Biochemistry will enhance your understanding of life.

A Biochemistry degree from Otago is an internationally-recognised qualification in one of the key life sciences. You will learn practical, analytical, and critical thinking skills that are highly valued in New Zealand's knowledge-based economy.

Biochemists are experimental scientists, as a result the study of biochemistry at Otago has a large hands-on component, involving practical skills and sophisticated instrumentation, all of which help prepare you for career opportunities following graduation.

Career opportunities

Biochemists can choose from a diverse array of job opportunities, and Otago biochemistry graduates can be found all over the world.

Careers in research, product development, forensics, public health, bioinformatics, agribusiness, patent law, science policy, publishing, teaching and science communication, commerce, and marketing are all available to biochemists.

The New Zealand biotechnology industry has opportunities for biochemists in livestock improvement, the development of food crops, winemaking, the protection of native flora and fauna, pharmaceuticals, and industrial and household products.

With an Otago degree in Biochemistry, you can pursue your passion in any area of biology, anywhere in the world.

Biochemistry at Otago

Biochemistry is a rapidly-developing molecular science that studies living processes by considering an organism's biological molecules: their functions, their interactions (both amongst themselves and with molecules in the environment), and how they can be affected by the environment itself.

Biochemistry is at the heart of cutting-edge developments in molecular medicine and the biotechnology industry. Molecular medicine is poised to revolutionise human health. Better methods for diagnosis, drug design, and therapeutic treatment at the molecular level will improve health outcomes for society.

Biotechonology will bring us more and better foods, new sources of energy, and new materials for engineering.

Postgraduate study options

Following on from a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry, there are a number of postgraduate options, including a Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)), a Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci), Master of Science (MSc), and doctoral (PhD) degree.

Background required

There are no school subjects you have to do to study Biochemistry.

However, you will need to pass a first-year Chemistry paper before doing Biochemistry, so NCEA Level 2 and/or Level 3 Chemistry will be helpful.


Biochemistry as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree

100-levelBIOC 192 Foundations of Biochemistry18
200-levelTwo of:
BIOC 221 Molecular Biology
BIOC 222 Proteins in Industry and Medicine
BIOC 223 Cellular Biochemistry and Metabolism

Two 300-level BIOC papers


 Note: Prerequisite for BIOC 192 is CHEM 191; prerequisites for 200-level BIOC papers include CELS 191 
Total 90

BIOC papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
BIOC192 2024 Foundations of Biochemistry 18 Semester 2
BIOC221 2024 Molecular Biology 18 Semester 1
BIOC222 2024 Proteins in Industry and Medicine 18 Semester 2
BIOC223 2024 Cellular Biochemistry and Metabolism 18 Semester 2
BIOC351 2024 Advanced Protein Biochemistry 18 Semester 1
BIOC352 2024 Advanced Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics 18 Semester 1
BIOC353 2024 Molecular Basis of Health and Disease 18 Semester 2
BIOC360 2024 Research Perspectives in Biochemistry 18 Semester 2
BIOC461 2024 Research Design and Analysis in Biochemistry 20 Full Year
BIOC462 2024 Molecular Biology 20 Semester 1
BIOC463 2024 Contemporary Technologies in Biochemistry 20 Semester 2
BIOC464 2024 Applied Biochemistry 20 Full Year
BIOC480 2024 Research Project 40 Full Year
BIOC490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year
BIOC495 2024 Master's Thesis Preparation 40 Full Year

More information

Contact us

Department of Biochemistry
School of Biomedical Sciences

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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