Connecting plants and people for a sustainable future.
Because plants provide us with food, fibres and medicines, knowledge about plants is fundamental to our survival.
It’s also vital to the health of the planet, as plants influence the Earth’s climate, and most life forms on Earth depend directly on plants for oxygen, food, or habitat. Plants also include some of the strangest and most beautiful living things on Earth.
Modern Botany includes research into the biochemistry, ecology, genetics and physiology of plants, plant evolution, the role plants play in ecosystems and plant biotechnology. It covers topics from the breeding of crop plants using the most modern molecular techniques, through to modelling the effects of climate change on plants.
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Why study Botany?
Botany is an exciting and challenging degree taught by a team of excellent plant scientists.
You will learn about important, topical issues such as biotechnology, genetic modification, ecosystem services, sustainability and the ecological impacts of environmental change.
Studying Botany at Otago will enable you to examine New Zealand’s unique flora on land and in the sea. You will study its diversity and evolutionary history, as well as how this flora may be affected by changing climatic conditions, ocean acidification, and invasive organisms. Botany courses will cover a wide range of topics from how photosynthetic organisms function, to understanding their role in ecosystem processes. This will include the importance of plants in addressing some of the challenges and problems that face society in the 21st century.
Botany courses have great field trips that focus on various aspects of plant ecology and allow you to participate in hands-on study of our exciting natural environment.
The wide range of topics and skills learnt in Botany can lead to many different careers. There will always be jobs for plant scientists because plants are so fundamental to life on earth.
The world’s economies are highly dependent on plants and their associated habitats, not only for food production but also for timber, for the fibres and chemical compounds plants produce and for the ecological services they provide, such as removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Plant scientists are employed around the world in industry, governmental and non-governmental organisations that seek to understand and conserve the natural environment, and to educate people about it.
Botany graduates are in high demand in industries such as biotechnology, horticulture, tourism and agriculture.
A Botany degree can also lead to a career in conservation, biosecurity, environmental education, environmental consultancy or academic research.
Our graduates take up positions in local and national government, for instance at the Department of Conservation, and Ministry of Primary Industries and Crown Research Institutes.
While an understanding of basic biology would be useful, it is not essential – you will be taught everything you need to know once you start your course.
The basics of cells, plants and their environments are covered in the first year Biology and Ecology papers. All you need is enthusiasm and curiosity!
What will I learn?
A Botany degree will provide you with basic training in plant biology and evolution, ecology and physiology, marine botany, mycology, plant diseases and biotechnology.
You will also gain important skills that are transferable to any career: critical thinking, written and oral communication, information analysis and interpretation, time management, problem solving, and lateral thinking.
Combine Botany with other subjects
You can include papers from almost any other area in the University in your Botany degree.
For students doing a double degree or double major, Botany is most often combined with Ecology, Plant Biotechnology, Genetics, Law, Zoology, or Marine Science.
Botany is also offered as a degree minor alongside other degree subject majors.
How will I study?
Botany lecturers have an interactive style and work closely with undergraduates. In laboratory classes, you will gain hands-on experience of fundamental botanical techniques ranging from plant genetics, structure and function, to tissue culture and ecological surveys.
Botany courses also include field trips to native forests, grasslands, mountains and beaches.
The Department of Botany provides a friendly and supportive learning environment – it produces independent and informed graduates who make a positive contribution to society and the economy – nationally and internationally.
A degree in Botany allows you to enter into higher degrees at Otago and other tertiary institutions. Many MSc and PhD graduates in Botany are employed as research scientists around the world, including New Zealand.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
- Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc)
- Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc)
- Bachelor of Science (BSc)
- Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons))
- Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci)
- Master of Science (MSc)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Botany
BIOL 123 Plants: How They Shape the World
Note: Other papers approved by the Head of Department may be substituted for one paper at 200-level and for one paper at 300-level.
180 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science
Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)) in Botany
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Botany
Note: With approval from the Head of Department another 400-level paper may be substituted for one of BTNY 461-470.
Master of Science (MSc) in Botany
|Papers and Thesis|
Minor subject requirements
Botany as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, 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 Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), 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-level||BIOL 123 Plants: How They Shape the World||18|
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|BTNY201||2023||Plant Functional Biology and Biotechnology||18 points||Semester 1|
|BTNY202||2023||Plant and Fungal Diversity||18 points||Semester 2|
|BTNY203||2023||Marine and Freshwater Botany||18 points||Semester 2|
|BTNY301||2023||Plant Ecology||18 points||Semester 1|
|BTNY302||2023||Plant Interactions||18 points||Semester 2|
|BTNY303||2023||Topics in Field Botany||18 points||1st Non standard period|
|BTNY365||2023||Research Skills||18 points||Semester 1|
|BTNY370||2023||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|BTNY461||2023||Plant Physiology and Biotechnology||20 points||Semester 1|
|BTNY465||2023||Plant and Environment||20 points||Semester 2|
|BTNY467||2023||New Zealand Plant Ecology and Evolution||20 points||Semester 2|
|BTNY469||2023||Principles of Nature Conservation||20 points||Semester 1|
|BTNY470||2023||Special Topic||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|BTNY480||2023||Research Project||40 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|
|BTNY490||2023||Dissertation||60 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|
|BTNY495||2023||Master's Thesis Preparation||40 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|