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If you are interested in Environmental Science, the University of Otago has a number of undergraduate and postgraduate subject options that may be of interest to you.


Botany covers all aspects of the life of plants. It includes their structure and development, physiology and biochemistry, genetics, as well as their relationships with the environment and other organisms.

Plants are vital to our daily lives. Directly or indirectly they provide us with food, fibre and shelter. The oxygen you are breathing was produced by plants, algae and cyanobacteria. We largely feed our motor vehicles and electrical power grid with fuels derived from ancient algae and forests. Studying Botany will empower you to understand and harness the power of plants for a diverse array of applications such as climate change mitigation, ecological restoration and food production.

Study Botany at Otago

Visit the Department of Botany website


Chemistry is so much a part of our lives, sometimes we don't even notice it! It's at the heart of cooking and eating, breathing and seeing, the clothes we wear and the materials we use to construct our environment. While studying Chemistry at Otago, you'll look at how chemicals interact with each other, with light and with the environment; how to synthesise novel materials and measure trace amounts of pollutants.

Study Chemistry at Otago

Visit the Department of Chemistry website


Ecology is the study of the interactions of plants and animals in relation to their environment and with each other and may be the most significant subject you could study at university.

The population of the world is predicted to rise to more than 9 billion later this century. Together with global climate change, this ever-increasing number of people will disrupt life-sustaining ecosystems and put immense pressure on food and water supplies. The world needs ecologists now, and even more so in the future.

Study Ecology at Otago

Visit the Ecology programme website

Energy, Science and Technology or Energy Management: Physics

Energy management is all about how to make the best use of our present and future energy sources in order to avoid crises, both economic and environmental. In a modern economy we take energy services, such as transport, lighting, heating, and electrical appliances for granted. Yet behind these services lies a complex network of energy technologies to ensure that fuels, hydro-power, geothermal energy, and other primary sources get converted into the services we want.

Responding to the issues surrounding energy use is important. As energy and environmental problems intensify, there is urgent demand worldwide for energy managers who can set up and implement real practical solutions. Energy Management is a professional occupation that affects the economy, people's security and comfort, their jobs, and the environment. It is not just concerned with saving energy, but also with increasing productivity, improving standards of living and saving money.

Study Energy at Otago

Visit the Department of Physics website

Environmental Management

We are all aware of the environmental crises that are plaguing the world. From global warming and deforestation, to soil erosion and landfills, it seems like a catalogue of disasters that no one is doing anything about. The good news is that there are now increasing numbers of people on the case. Environmental Management is about coordinating these efforts - investigating problems, developing solutions, and working in multi-disciplinary teams to get things done.

Study Environmental Management at Otago

Environmental Science

The Environmental Science Programme is a multidisciplinary programme that encompasses coursework and research across a wide range of disciplines: Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Marine Science, Surveying or Zoology.

Study Environmental Science at Otago

Environmental Toxicology

Environmental Toxicology examines the impact of environmental pollutants on humans and wildlife. Exactly how these chemicals modify normal function will be learned as well as how they are transported throughout the environment. In order to understand these concepts the student will have a background in both chemistry and pharmacology.

Study Environmental Toxicology at Otago

Geographic Information Systems: School of Surveying

Geographic information systems (GIS) are being applied increasingly to a variety of human and natural problems that are too numerous and too diverse to list. Since spatial factors are central to almost all issues that involve the management and use of land and human occupancy, it is important that you develop a sound grasp of the principles of GIS and the means of applying it. As surveyors (geographers, planners, geologists, etc.), it is essential to understand the end uses of survey data as they are transformed from field collection into information and eventually into new knowledge. There is barely a single area of local and national government internationally that does not use spatial data of some form or another, and through this the spatial data and information, technology industries are among the fastest-growing in the world, with a multi-billion dollar market.

Study Surveying at Otago

Visit the School of Surveying website


Geography is an environmental science concerned with the causes and organisation of natural and human phenomena across the globe.

Study Geography at Otago

Visit the Department of Geography website


Teaching and research carried out by staff and students in the Geology Department at the University of Otago in Dunedin emphasises process-related research tied to the fast tempo of 'active' earth science in the South Island and beyond, and to the evolution of our unique New Zealand biota.

Study Geology

Visit the Department of Geology website

Marine Environmental Science: Not available in 2020

The Master of Applied Science (MAppSc) in Marine Environmental Science is a coursework only (180-point) master's degree designed to provide a bridge from your science or applied science degree to a career in the environmental sector associated with the marine realm. You will develop a global perspective of marine processes and human interaction with the marine environment – the challenges and needs of societies living in coastal regions, local and national marine resources and the need to develop coherent and robust policies and management plans. You will also develop a strong interdisciplinary perspective with an advanced focus on critical thinking and clear communication and presentation of scientific findings and management options.

Study Marine Environmental Science at Otago

Marine Science

The Department of Marine Science is a multidisciplinary department with research strengths in both biological and physical marine sciences. We offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees focusing on pure and applied research in marine science, oceanography and aquaculture. We have dedicated research facilities around the South Island of New Zealand (Otago Harbour, Stewart Island and Fiordland), but our staff and students conduct their research everywhere from Fiji to Antarctica.

Study Marine Science at Otago

Visit the Department of Marine Science website

Wildlife Management

Wildlife Management in its broadest sense is the science and practice of species conservation and restoration, as well as active management for the wise use of renewable natural resources.

Wildlife management boils down to managing densities of target species: sustaining or increasing numbers of rare or threatened species; reducing excess numbers, controlling or eradicating pest species; or maintaining numbers of a harvested species. A fundamental decision relates to the level of intervention necessary to achieve the stated objectives. Ideally you would not need to intervene at all, just monitor to ensure desirable densities, distributions or population structures are maintained. At the other end of the spectrum are highly intensive interventions such as captive-breeding and reintroduction. The decision concerning the appropriate level of intervention and the assessment of the effects of that intervention are the stuff of day-to-day wildlife management. The information on which to base your decisions and the ways in which you investigate these needs and outcomes derive from the techniques of wildlife management.

Study Wildlife Management at Otago


Zoology is the study of animals, their behaviour, physiology and evolution, as well as their interactions with each other and their environment. Zoologists study how animals evolved and the impact of environmental change on their survival. They also study costs and benefits of conservation and ways to enhance species survival.

Study Zoology at Otago

Visit the Department of Zoology website

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