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Study Drugs and Human Health at Otago

Drugs and Human Health 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.

Why study Drugs and Human Health?

The key answer is because you are interested in, and motivated by, the science that will allow us to improve human health. Our Drugs and Human Health students have a reputation for excellence and are sought-after by a wide range of employers both here in New Zealand and overseas.

Medicines play a major role in 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.

Career opportunities

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 Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc) degree different from a Bachelor of Science (BSc)?

Yes. 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 a BBiomedSc 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 our specific majors.

The BBiomedSc majoring in Drugs and Human Health incorporates a greater diversity of study than the equivalent BSc.


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

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc) majoring in Drugs and Human Health

Year Papers Points
1st year

BIOC 192  Foundations of Biochemistry

CELS 191  Cell and Molecular Biology

CHEM 191  The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health

HUBS 191  Human Body Systems 1

HUBS 192  Human Body Systems 2

PHSI 191  Biological Physics

18 further points








2nd year

PHAL 211  Introductory Pharmacology

PHAL 221  Drug Discovery and Development

PHSL 232  Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology,  or PHSL 233  Cellular, Gastrointestinal and Renal Physiology

At least 54 further points from ANAT 241, BIOC 223, CHEM 205, MICR 221, MICR 223, PATH 201, PHSL 232, PHSL 233

18 further points







3rd year

PHAL 304  Human Pharmacology

PHAL 306  Human Toxicology

At least 36 points from ANAT 332, BIOC 353, CHEM 305, MICR 334, PATH 302, PHAL 303 (or PHAL 305), PHSL 343, PHSL 344, PHSL 345

36 further points





Total   360

Key information for future students

Contact us

School of Biomedical Sciences