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Study Functional Human Biology at Otago

Koiora Whai Take o te Ira Tangata

Functional Human Biology 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 Functional Human Biology?

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

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.

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)?


The BBiomedSc allows you to retain an interdisciplinary diversity across the biomedical subjects throughout your three years of study.

In the final year of a BSc, most students are required to take four 300-level papers in one discipline. In contrast, final-year BBiomedSc students select papers from more than one biomedical discipline to complete their degree.

Throughout your university studies, advice will be available to help you structure your programme of study.

How do I structure my BBiomedSc degree?

Many students enter the BBiomedSc programme having successfully completed Health Sciences First Year (HSFY), however it is also possible to complete the first year enrolled in Biomedical Sciences First Year (BSFY) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc).

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

Postgraduate study in Christchurch, Dunedin, or Wellington

After completing a BBiomedSc majoring in Functional Human Biology (or equivalent degree), you can choose to pursue research-focused postgraduate study.

The Bachelor of Biomedical Science with Honours (BBiomedSc(Hons)) is an eight-month postgraduate degree. With its focus on hands-on biomedical research, it is widely regarded as an excellent choice for students wishing to continue on to master’s or PhD study.

The Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBiomedSc) is a one year thesis-only postgraduate degree for students who have completed the BBiomedSc(Hons) or similar postgraduate programme. It provides excellent hands-on training as preparation either for work in biomedical research or for students wishing to continue on to PhD studies.

Both the BBiomedSc(Hons) and the MBiomedSc degrees can be undertaken at the Christchurch, Dunedin, or Wellington campuses.


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

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc) majoring in Functional Human Biology

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

36 further points
HUNT 141 Understanding Human Nutrition, PHSI 191 Biological Physics, STAT 110  Statistical Methods or STAT 115 Introduction to Biostatistics highly recommended.







2nd year

ANAT 241  Human Biology: Cells to Systems  or  PHSL 231  Neurophysiology

PHSL 232  Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology

PHSL 233  Cellular, Gastrointestinal and Renal Physiology

At least 54 points from ANAT 241, ANAT 242, BIOC 221, BIOC 223, HUNT 241, HUNT 243, MICR 221, MICR 223, PATH 201, PHAL 211, PHAL 221, PHSL 231

18 further points






3rd year

PHSL 343  Cellular and Epithelial Physiology

PHSL 345  Physiological Aspects of Health and Disease

At least 36 points from ANAT 331, ANAT 332, ANAT 335, BIOC 353, HUNT 342, MICR 332, MICR 334, PATH 301, PHAL 304, PHAL 305, PHSL 342 (or PHSL 341 or PHSL 344)

36 further points

Note: Due to timetable constraints the following paper combination is not possible:
ANAT 331, PATH 301 and PHSL 345 cannot be taken concurrently. PHSL 345 can be taken with either ANAT 331 or PATH 301.





Total   360

Key information for future students

Contact us

Web (School of Biomedical Sciences, Dunedin campus)
Web (University of Otago, Christchurch)
Web (University of Otago, Wellington)