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Study Molecular Biotechnology at Otago

Working with the building blocks of life

Molecular Biotechnology is the application of biological science at the molecular level.

Time Magazine called the 21st century the “biotechnology century”, a claim based on the explosion of molecular technologies, and the impact these technologies are likely to have.

The number of new products being developed for human and animal health is growing exponentially, and this trend is set to continue.

Otago’s Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) in Molecular Biotechnology provides you with a multidisciplinary mix of scientific knowledge – skills that will set you up to make the most of the commercial opportunities in this fast- growing industry or to focus on an interdisciplinary area of study.

Apply for the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (BAppSc(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Why study Molecular Biotechnology?

You could become involved in world-changing developments like finding new treatments for diseases, identifying important genetic traits, or helping solve crimes through new forensic techniques.

You’ll gain wide knowledge in the fields of genetics, biochemistry and microbiology that can be used in industries in New Zealand and around the world.

You’ll develop an appreciation of the impact of Molecular Biotechnology, and learn about the technology behind recent advances in the biological sciences.

Background required

There are no subject requirements for entry into the BAppSc in Molecular Biotechnology. However, we strongly recommend you take Chemistry and Physics to NCEA Level 3 (or equivalent), and if possible, also take Biology to NCEA Level 3 (or equivalent).

What is the Bachelor of Applied Science?

The strength of the Applied Science programme is its outward focus – developing market-ready graduates with wide-ranging skills and practical experience in the workplace.

Applied Science is a three-year undergraduate degree with open entry at 100 level.

An honours year is offered to those students who achieve an appropriate academic standard. This will be offered at the end of the undergraduate degree.

Every Applied Science degree has a compulsory minor or second major, in a subject area that is directly relevant and will deliver complementary skills. The programme encourages real-world business awareness, enabling you to apply what you have learned to any organisation you work for.

What will I study?

To major in Molecular Biotechnology you must complete 126 points (seven papers) in your first year, including:

  • 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

From second year onwards, you’ll study a range of biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and plant biotechnology papers, providing a thorough knowledge of the theoretical basis and practical applications of biotechnology.

You’ll also learn skills like the use of bioinformatics, gene analysis and cloning, and computer applications in molecular biology.

Note: Check the details in the Guide to Enrolment published with enrolment material each year.

How will I study?

As well as learning theory in lectures and working on practical skills in labs there is the option of having practical training in research centres or companies.

Work experience is an option for the BAppSc(Hons) in Molecular Biotechnology – you would carry out 6–12 weeks of work over the summer between your third and fourth years. As well as connecting what you’ve studied to real-world applications, this helps you start building a network of contacts in industry.

Honours students will undertake a substantial research project focusing on an area of Molecular Biotechnology they are particularly interested in.

This project could be anything from looking for new antibacterial agents to genes associated with cancer, and may take place with the support of a biotechnology research organisation.

Can I combine Molecular Biotechnology with other subjects?

All Applied Science majors require either a minor or second major.

For Molecular Biotechnology, suitable pairings would include Computational Modelling, Food Science or Environmental Management or Māori Studies.

There’s a wide range of science subjects you could choose, and any of the commerce majors would be suitable.

Career opportunities

There is worldwide demand for well-trained molecular biotechnologists. New Zealand already has a sound base in biotechnology, especially as it relates to healthcare innovation and the primary industries, with a range of research organisations and companies involved in biotechnology.

With a BAppSc from Otago, you could find yourself cloning genes to identify new pharmaceuticals, or working with new vaccines. You could help develop identifying markers for beneficial genetic traits in animals or disease in humans, or work in areas like vaccine development, genomic analysis, or patenting.

While your roles may vary in the different environments, your sound understanding of genetics, biochemistry and microbiology will provide you with a solid base from which to develop your future. There are the traditional research opportunities in Crown Research Institutes and universities, or openings in the commercial sector.


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

*It is a requirement that every Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) normally includes an approved minor subject or an approved second major subject. Usually such a minor or second major subject must be selected from the approved combinations of major subjects with minor or second major subjects. Some exceptions may apply.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) majoring in Molecular Biotechnology

No new enrolments are being accepted for this major subject.

Year Papers Points

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






BIOC 221  Molecular Biology

GENE 221  Molecular and Microbial Genetics

MICR 221  Microbes to Medicine

At least two of BIOC 222, BIOC 223, BTNY 201, GENE 222, GENE 223, MICR 222, MICR 223






Four of BIOC 351, BIOC 352, GENE 313, GENE 314, GENE 315, MICR 335, MICR 336, MICR 337, PLBI 301, PLBI 302



126 further points, including either requirements for an approved minor or approved second major subject or other approved papers


Total   360

Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (BAppSc(Hons)) in Molecular Biotechnology


Master of Applied Science (MAppSc) in Molecular Biotechnology


Key information for future students

Contact us

Professor Julian Eaton-Rye
Tel +64 3 479 7865