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You can undertake a Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Ecology. Ecology can also be added as a minor to other degrees.

The Ecology Degree Programme at the University of Otago places a strong emphasis on applied ecology; that is, those issues that relate to the conservation and management of the world's biodiversity. All our papers involve work in the field, allowing students to see ecology in action. Our students are involved in research from day one providing them with the skills and resources to embark on a range of ecologically related careers.

At the end of your three-year BSc degree in Ecology you will:

  • Understand how evolution and the environment affect species
  • Understand how intra- and interspecific interactions can affect populations
  • Understand how to use ecological principles to conserve threatened species
  • Be able to apply ecological methods and theory to address environmental issues related to sustainability
  • Gain experience in developing logical arguments for decision making
  • Develop skills in experimental design, group work, critical thinking and scientific communication (including report writing and oral communication)


Background requirements

Enthusiasm, a real interest in the world around you and a willingness to be challenged in your learning are the first steps. Secondary School students are recommended to take Biology and Statistics in year 12 and 13, but we accept students without these subjects at first year level. A broad background in Geography and other Science subjects is also advantageous.

Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Ecology

The BSc is a 3-year undergraduate degree which enables each student to develop their own interests in a science subject (in this case, Ecology) and related subjects. Students have the flexibility to combine their major subject with other science subjects, as well as subjects from other disciplines across the University.

Programme requirements for Ecology majors

For any specific course enquiries or advice about your Ecology Major, please contact us

More detailed information about the BSc can be found on the main University site

Minor in Ecology

A minor is a lessor specialisation complementing the major subject in a degree programme. It generally involves a separate set of papers worth a total of 90 points. Ecology is available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) or Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) degree.

Programme requirements for an Ecology minor

For any specific course enquiries or advice about a minor in Ecology, please contact us

More detailed information about minor degree requirements can be found on the main University site

Choosing which papers to take for your Ecology Major

Only two thirds of the 360 credit points required for a BSc in Ecology are specified as Major Subject Requirements. The remaining 126 points can come from a wide range of science subjects at 100-, 200- and 300-level in areas as diverse as Biochemistry, Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Management, Genetics, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Microbiology, Marine Science, Physics, Physiology, and Zoology. You are also permitted to include up to 90 points of non-Science papers in your BSc. Remember that papers at 200- or 300-level often have prerequisites that must have been passed in earlier years. You should take this into account when planning your programme.

The credit point values, pre- and co-requisites and restrictions of specific papers can be found on the main University site

Some students opt to specialise in a second subject, as part of a Double Degree, a Double Major, or as a minor. Common pairings with Ecology include a Double Major in Ecology and Botany, or Ecology and Zoology, or Majoring in Ecology with a Minor in Marine Science, Environmental Management or Statistics. If you are interested in such options, then we highly recommend you seek additional course advice.

For specific course enquiries or advice on structuring your Ecology Degree please contact us

General guidance on planning your degree, including Double Degree and Double Major options can be found on the main University site

For guidance on constructing your degree programme we provide the suggested degree programmes with emphases on the following specialisations in ecology:

  • Ecophysiology
  • Freshwater Ecology
  • Information systems Ecology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Molecular and Evolutionary Ecology
  • Palaeoecology
  • Plant-animal Interactions
  • Plant Ecology

Click here for more information on each specialisation, including a list of suggested papers

How to apply

All the information you need to enrol in a BSc in Ecology is at Otago University's enrolment page

For any specific course enquiries or advice then please contact us

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