The world of genetics is enormous. It touches our everyday lives in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.
Genetics is a rapidly-progressing science, a central theme of modern biology, and a critical component of most biological research.
With a high demand for genetics graduates within New Zealand and overseas, a degree in this ground-breaking and practical discipline will provide you with many career options.
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Genetics at Otago
Genetics is a rapidly-progressing science, a central theme of modern biology, and an indispensable component of most biological research.
The Genetics programme at Otago draws together the departments of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Botany, Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Women’s and Children’s Health, and Zoology.
This allows staff and students to interact and share ideas across a broader sphere than is possible in any one department.
Why study Genetics?
Genetics is the study of genes and inheritance. It’s fun, interesting, challenging and relevant to everyday life! It’s a very diverse subject, in which you’ll learn about the molecular basis of life right through to the study of whole organisms, populations and evolution.
You will learn to make informed decisions about topics such as genetic engineering, cloning and your own health. In your lectures, you’ll also learn about the cutting- edge research being undertaken at Otago and you’ll have many opportunities to undertake hands-on research.
You need to have an interest in the world around you!
Year 13 Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics are strongly recommended (but not essential).
Can I combine my Genetics degree with other subjects?
Yes! Genetics and almost anything is a marketable and desirable combination.
It is also possible to take Genetics papers as part of a BBiomedSc degree. In particular, Genetics is an integral component of the Reproduction, Genetics and Development major.
How will I study?
Genetics is an experimental science with a strong theoretical background, so you will have a combination of lectures and lab-based practicals.
The lab classes in second and third year are extremely varied. You’ll examine everything from viruses and bacteria through to fruit flies, worms and humans. For example, in second year you create genetically-modified bacteria and test for genetically-modified organisms in supermarket products.
During third year, you’ll have the opportunity to look at your own chromosomes, and to analyse a portion of your own DNA to determine which ‘Daughter of Eve’ you are descended from.
You also get to design and carry out your own group projects.
Computer simulation labs enable you to study evolutionary genetics.
Postgraduate study options
A Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Genetics can lead to a Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci), a Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)), Master of Science (MSc), or PhD degree. You can apply to enter these postgraduate programmes during the third year of your BSc.
If you have a degree with a major other than Genetics, but wish to study postgraduate Genetics, you can study for a Diploma for Graduates endorsed in Genetics.
Graduates with a genetics degree from Otago can be found all over New Zealand and around the world, doing all sorts of interesting things. A degree in Genetics gives you a wide range of marketable skills suitable for employment in biologically- based industries, research organisations and government departments.
You could be a research associate, policy analyst, biotechnologist, conservation worker or biosecurity analyst, to name but a few!
With further study you could be a patent lawyer, science journalist, or a researcher in human, animal, plant, or microbial genetics.
A Genetics degree from Otago also provides an excellent foundation for the further training required to be a genetic counsellor or forensic scientist.
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)
Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Genetics
CELS 191 Cell and Molecular Biology
CHEM 191 The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health
GENE 221 Molecular and Microbial Genetics
GENE 222 Genes, Chromosomes and Populations
GENE 223 Developmental and Applied Genetics
Note: After discussion with the Programme Director, in exceptional and justified circumstances and with the Director’s approval, one required 200 or 300 level paper may be approved for substitution with another, relevant paper. At 300 level, examples of papers that may be suitable include BIOC 353, BITC 301, BTNY 302, MICR 336, MICR 337, PLBI 301, PLBI 302, ZOOL 319.
162 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 Genetics
Prerequisites: At least five of:
With Programme Director approval, one of the papers listed above may be replaced by another 300-level paper.
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Genetics
Note: With approval from the Programme DIrector another 400-level paper may be substituted for one of the papers listed above
Master of Science (MSc) in Genetics
|Papers and Thesis|
Minor subject requirements
Genetics 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||CELS 191 Cell and Molecular Biology||18|
|300-level||Two of: |
GENE 312 Evolutionary Genetics
GENE 313 Medical Genetics
GENE 314 Developmental Genetics
GENE 315 Genomes
Prerequisites for GENE 221 include CHEM 191
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|
|GENE221||2022||Molecular and Microbial Genetics||18 points||Semester 1|
|GENE222||2022||Genes, Chromosomes and Populations||18 points||Semester 2|
|GENE223||2022||Developmental and Applied Genetics||18 points||Semester 2|
|GENE312||2022||Evolutionary Genetics||18 points||Semester 2|
|GENE313||2022||Medical Genetics||18 points||Semester 2|
|GENE314||2022||Developmental Genetics||18 points||Semester 2|
|GENE315||2022||Genomes||18 points||Semester 1|
|GENE360||2022||Extension Topics and Research Skills||18 points||Full Year|
|GENE411||2022||Current Topics in Genetics||20 points||Semester 1|
|GENE412||2022||Current Topics in Genetics||20 points||Semester 2|
|GENE480||2022||Research Project||40 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period|
|GENE490||2022||Dissertation||60 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period|
|GENE495||2022||Master's Thesis Preparation||40 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period|
|QGEN401||2022||Quantitative Genetics and Improvement||20 points||Semester 2|