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Study Biomedical Sciences at Otago

Biomedical Sciences at Otago provides a broad, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the science of health and disease.

You will have the opportunity to pursue this fascinating topic at undergraduate (Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences), postgraduate (Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences with Honours), and research level (Master of Biomedical Sciences).

The BBiomedSc degree allows you to pursue a flexible programme of study that equips you with a comprehensive grounding in the principles and ideas that underpin current biomedical science.

Apply for the Biomedical Sciences First Year (BSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Apply for the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc 2nd year and above) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

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Why study Biomedical Sciences?

The key answer is because you are interested in, and motivated by, the science that will allow us to improve human health. Our Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc) students have a reputation for excellence and are sought-after by a wide range of employers both here in New Zealand and overseas. Your working life might begin with an innovative biotechnology company or with a more established company in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, or agricultural sectors.

Alternatively, you might be employed by a research institute, in a university, government agency, or local authority, and use the scientific skills you have learned during your studies to provide policy, technical, or diagnostic advice.

A significant number of our BBiomedSc graduates are also successful in obtaining PhD positions or gaining postgraduate entry into professional health programmes such as Dentistry, Medicine, and Pharmacy.

Is the BBiomedSc degree different from a BSc?


The BBiomedSc allows you to retain an interdisciplinary diversity throughout your three years of study. In the final year of a BSc, most students are required to take four 300-level papers in their major subject. In contrast, final-year BBiomedSc students have the opportunity to select two of their required papers from outside their major.

Throughout your university studies, advice will be available to help you structure your programme of study. It is often possible, for example, to switch between a BSc and BBiomedSc degree.

How do I structure my BBiomedSc degree?

Most students enter the BBiomedSc programme having successfully completed Health Sciences First Year (HSFY), although it is also possible to enrol in Biomedical Sciences First Year (BSFY) to be a BBiomedSc student from the start of your studies.

While the interdisciplinary nature of Biomedical Sciences is the key feature of our degree, we aim to ensure that you obtain a coherent programme of study by selecting one of six specific majors.

Each of the six BBiomedSc majors incorporates a greater diversity of study than the equivalent BSc:

Drugs and Human Health

Scientific advances continue to provide new drug targets, and the search for improved therapeutics has widened from traditional sources, such as plant and animal products, to include rationally designed drugs and novel biologics. This major covers the main drug classes used to treat disease, drug toxicology, and drug safety, and the discovery process for translating molecules with therapeutic potential into clinical use.

Functional Human Biology

Ultimately human health depends on the correct functioning of the cells, tissues and organ systems of the body. Understanding disease, in turn, rests upon knowledge of the pathological processes on these systems. This major provides an overview of the functional mechanisms of the multiple systems in the human body and explores specific areas in depth with a research-informed focus.

Infection and Immunity

This major provides in-depth knowledge of the immune system: how it develops, how it functions, its role in health and disease, and what happens when it fails to function. It covers the microbes responsible for infectious diseases, how these infectious diseases are controlled, and how antibiotic resistance arises. The major also includes how the immune system can be used to treat diseases such as cancer.

Molecular Basis of Health and Disease

This major explores the molecular mechanisms underpinning cellular communication as they relate to human health and disease. Some of the topics covered include pathways of cell growth, cell survival and death, protein interactions in cell signalling pathways, dysregulation of metabolism, and the expression of disease phenotypes.

Nutrition and Metabolism in Human Health

This major focuses on the biochemistry and metabolism of essential nutrients, including carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, with an emphasis on human health and disease across the lifecycle. Topics covered include nutritional assessment, energy balance, and the role of nutrition in the development and treatment of chronic disease.

Reproduction, Genetics and Development

One of the key objectives in current biomedical science research is to understand the interplay between our genes and physiology during reproduction and development. In this major, you will examine the biology of reproduction, embryo formation and development, and the genetics underlying these events. You will also have the opportunity to explore key anatomical and genetic techniques.

Life beyond a BBiomedSc?

Graduates from this programme have taken up many exciting career opportunities while others have developed a taste for research and pursued further study.

Our BBiomedSc(Hons) degree allows suitably qualified students to undertake a two-semester guided research project in a selected Biomedical Sciences department. Successful completion of honours provides entry into a PhD, or our newly-formed master’s programme (MBiomedSc).


Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages:

Key information for students

Contact us

Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences Academic Administrator
School of Biomedical Sciences
Tel +64 3 479 4205