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Study Wildlife Management

Wildlife Management Course Options

The University of Otago offers two course options in Wildlife Management:

Both course options will include two core papers, and some combination of recommended and optional papers. At University of Otago postgraduate papers (units) are each worth 20 points. The intention is to allow you the flexibility to choose the course structure that best suits your future aspirations. Students completing either the PGDipWLM or the MWLM may be eligible to proceed to the thesis-only Master of Science (MSc) and this will be the pathway recommended to those who wish to progress to PhD study.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Management

The Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Management (PGDipWLM) is a one year full-time course consisting of 120 points at the 400-level, i.e. six postgraduate papers. This paper has wide appeal and high recognition nationally.

Students can opt into the MWLM after less than one year of study towards a PGDipWLM by extending the programme of study to 180 points. Graduates of the PGDipWLM are able to qualify for the MWLM by completing the WILM501 Research Placement plus one additional 400-level paper

Further information and regulations regarding the PGDipWLM can be found here

The Master of Wildlife Management (MWLM)

The Master of Wildlife Management is a 1.5 year (3 semester course) taught Masters consisting of 180 points of postgraduate papers, including the 40-point WILM501 Wildlife Management Research Placement. The Masters degree is designed to train students with the skills necessary for employment in some aspect of wildlife or ecological management or research. A candidate would normally have completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in a related subject area before undertaking the MWLM, but the degree is also open to those with other qualifications.

The Master of Wildlife Management has appeal for international students seeking specialised wildlife management training, and for NZ graduates wishing to explore opportunities overseas or to broaden their employment opportunities nationally. There will be provisions to opt-out of the MWLM after one year of study and graduate with a 120-point PGDipWLM.

MWLM Course Outline:

Semester 1 (60 points): core paper WILM402 plus 40 points comprising WILM404 (if ZOOL316 or equivalent has not been passed previously) and/or any appropriate 400 level papers in any discipline.

Semester 2 (60 points): core paper WILM401 plus 40 points comprising WILM406 (if 300 level course work in Conservation Biology has not been taken previously) and or any appropriate 400 level papers, plus start preparations for the new 40-point placement paper (WILM501).

Semester 3 (Semester 1 the following year) (60 points): WILM501 completion plus 20 points comprising any 400-level paper.

Further Information and regulations regarding the MWLM can be found here

Core papers

All Wildlife Management students in the Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Management and Master of Wildlife Management must take:

Master of Wildlife Management students must also take:

The aim of WILM501 is to provide students with the opportunity to apply and develop research skills and techniques while under the host supervision of a wildlife management or research organisation or professional.

This paper is designed for those wanting frontline wildlife management and research experience. The idea is for you to spend ~8 weeks working on an applied research project within a wildlife management organisation. This should allow you to experience the practical realities of wildlife management-related research in a way that the university can't teach. This paper aims to provide an opportunity for you to gain confidence in your ability to apply your learning, skills and wider knowledge to design and conduct research, including the critical evaluation of relevant literature, the formulation of a robust research protocol, and the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of quantitative data relating to some aspect of wildlife management.

The placement project will entail work that will be of use to your host organization. Previous students have been involved in all phases of data collection, analysis and report writing, or in assessment and revision of monitoring protocols or management plans. The idea is to complete a piece of research work that is useful and necessary, but which perhaps cannot be undertaken by a host organisation due to other priorities, or lack of time or personnel.

Recommended papers

For students lacking undergraduate training in conservation biology it is recommended they take WILM 406 Conservation Biology for Wildlife Management, on approval by the Course Director.

If you have not completed ZOOL 316 Biological Data Analysis and Computing, or an equivalent undergraduate biostatistics paper, then you must take WILM 404 Biostatistics for Wildlife Management.

Optional papers

Students have completed course requirements by selecting from a wide variety of postgraduate papers, including those hosted by the following University of Otago Departments:

Further information

Further information on Wildlife Management course options is available elsewhere on the University website.

Other papers taken by Wildlife Management Students

In recent years students doing Wildlife Management have completed the following optional papers as part of their course requirements. Paper timing and availability may vary from year to year.

Master of Science (MSc) Study Option

Many incoming postgraduate students face a choice of whether to continue on to do a Master of Science (MSc), a Postgraduate Diploma, or the Master of Wildlife Management. If you have a strong interest in the research side of wildlife ecology and management, the combination of Postgraduate Diploma and MSc offers several advantages over taking a standard BSc Honours or MSc course.

Diploma graduates can take several fourth year papers with a specialist wildlife focus that are not available to other students. Wildlife Management graduates can go on directly to do a Masters by-thesis-only. In addition, PGDipWLM and MWLM graduates have the choice of doing an MSc in Wildlife Management, or in Zoology, Ecology, or even Marine Science, depending on their thesis topic. This will entail one-year of full-time research and thesis writing. Accordingly you can graduate with both a Postgraduate Diploma and a MSc in ~2 years, the same time as those pursuing a standard MSc course. Alternatively you might opt to complete the Master of Wildlife Management and the MSc in Wildlife Management in a total of ~2.5 years.

If you intend to go on to MSc by-thesis-only, you need to complete your coursework with good grades. You should start thinking about suitable MSc projects and potential supervisors during your Diploma year. If your Diploma grades are good enough you may be eligible for University of Otago postgraduate funding. It may be possible to undertake field work for your MSc while based overseas.

Some recent MSc theses by Wildlife Management graduates:

  • Lizards at elevation: thermal ecology and emergence activity of alpine lizards in Otago – Aaron Bertoia
  • Invasive rats and where to find them: evaluating detection techniques and resource selection by Norway rats (Rattus novegicus) – Hayley Lister
  • The spatial ecology, population structure and habitat use of Rattus spp. In the South island, New Zealand – Peter Doyle
  • Site-specific Foraging Strategies of Rakiura Hoiho/Yellow-eyed Penguins (Megadyptes antipodes) – Thor Elley
  • Space use and resource selection of the Orokonui Ecosanctuary kākā (Nestor meridionalis) population – Scott Forrest
  • Inter-annual and inter-colony variation in the foraging environments and behaviour of tawaki from Milford Sound – Myrene Otis
  • Ecology and conservation of Hector’s dolphins in Porpoise Bay, Southland – Max Harvey
  • Geospatial and temporal drivers of Kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) bird-window collisions in Dunedin, New Zealand – Cora Heister
  • Bring me a shrubbery’: Assessing the habitat preference of mammalian predators in the urban green spaces of New Zealand cities – Kim Miller
  • Phylogenomic relationships of the Galaxias vulgaris species complex – Ciaran Campbell
  • Estimating population density and habitat selection of rats (Rattus spp.) and abundance of birds on the Otago Peninsula – Tom Nordmeier
  • Evaluating the Long-term Success of Jewelled Gecko (Naultinus gemmeus) Translocations and Enclosure Suitability Within Orokonui Ecosanctuary – Ellen Richardson
  • Using stable isotope analysis to study the diet of stoats (Mustela erminea) in the alpine zone of New Zealand – Jamie McAuley


  • Reintroducing Buff Weka to an unfenced Mainland Island - Jim Watts
  • Lifetime reproductive success in yellow-eyed penguins - Aviva Stein
  • Breeding biology and conservation management of South Island robins in conifer plantation and native forests - Graham Parker
  • The role of inbreeding in the reproductive fitness of Kakapo - Kaitlyn White


  • Habitat requirements of the Jewelled gecko: effects of grazing, predation and habitat fragmentation – Carey Knox
  • Birds as indicators of sustainable management practices on New Zealand kiwifruit farms - Guinny Coleman
  • Takapourewa titiwainui: How nest site selection affects breeding success, with applications for translocation - Emma Craig


  • A recipe for conflict: Food security, politics and perceptions of wildlife damage in Western Ethiopia – Courtney Quirin
  • Spatial ecology of domestic cats in skink reserves adjacent to urban and peri-urban areas - Liz Metsers


  • Dispersal and survival of kaki (Himantopus novaezelandiae) released in the Tasman River Valley, New Zealand – Geoff Cline
  • Use of a stochastic population model as a tool to assist decision making in the management of Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) – Danilo Hegg
  • The use of predator-controlled inshore islands for the threatened species translocation: An alternative conservation tool – Lindsay Martin
  • The spatial ecology of yellow-eyed penguin nest site selection at breeding areas with different habitat types on the South Island of New Zealand – Ryan Clark
  • The diet of Yellow-eyed Penguins on Stewart and Codfish Islands: Is diet responsible for poor Yellow-eyed Penguin chick survival on Stweart Island? – Tiff Browne


  • Wildlife communities in created and natural freshwater wetlands of the Waiau River Catchment, New Zealand – Rachel Paterson
  • Evaluating the kaka (Nestor meridionalis) as an umbrella species for lowland forests in New Zealand – Tara Leech
  • The comparative ecology of Stewart Island weka (Gallirallus australis scotti) on islands with and without seabirds – Franny Cunninghame


  • Modelling the distribution of New Zealand bats as a function of habitat selection – Glen Greaves
  • Ecology of freshwater fish in the littoral zone of Lake Waikere, Kai Iwi Lakes, Northland, New Zealand: For the conservation of the dune lakes galaxias – Michael Pingram
  • Evaluation of soil fauna as potential bioindicators of soil quality in kiwifruit orchard systems – Sarah Richards
  • Kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) in the urban Dunedin environment: Abundance, habitat selection and rehabilitation outcomes – Lisa Daglish
  • A comparison of the quality of wild and captive Otago skinks (Oligosoma otagense): Are captive stocks of potential use in conservation? – Joanne Connolly
  • A stochastic computer simulation of island group colonisation by Rattus norvegicus in small near shore island systems: Specifically Tia Island and the Boat Group – Shaun Coutts


  • Variability of total counts and calibration with mark-recapture estimates for New Zealand fur seal pups – Deborah Watson
  • Sooty Shearwater burrow systems: Detection of occupant, site selection and recovery from disturbance – Sam Mckechnie


  • Fine-scale habitat use by hedgehogs and ferrets in the Waitaki Basin: A study using very high-resolution satellite imagery – Danielle Shanahan
  • Habitat selection by South Island saddlebacks and Stewart Island robins on Ulva Island – Kate Steffens

Otago Profile

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  • In her final year of a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, Kate Beer says she's enjoyed everything about studying at Otago so far. See more...

Otago Profile

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  • For honours Zoology student Catherine Roughton conducting field work meant time spent with binoculars stalking lizards in the barren country around Macraes Flat. See more...
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