Bachelor of Science (Genetics)

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Unravel the story of our world

In Massey’s Bachelor of Science (Genetics) you will learn about the discoveries that are changing how we think about who we are as humans. Genetics is a rapidly-changing and fascinating area of science.

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What is it like?

Become part of the spectacular advances being made in medicine, agriculture and environmental science through modern genetic analysis and next generation technologies.

Understand the big questions

Genetics is a hugely-relevant area of study to the world today and a discipline that unifies many others. The Bachelor of Science (Genetics) will teach you how genetics helps us understand the big questions of life: Where did we come from? How are we and our world changing and adapting? How can we create better medicine, create more efficient agriculture and protect ourselves and our environment from disease and destruction?

Join a core science discipline

The explosion of information concerning the dynamic nature of our world comes from so called “next generation DNA sequencing technologies” that are helping us to answer big questions of our time. These discoveries are changing our understanding of the world around us and what we know about who we are as humans. Today sequencing the genome of organisms is a basic activity behind much scientific research.

First university to offer genetics

Massey was the first university in New Zealand to offer a programme in genetics. With Manawatū campus’ strengths in agricultural sciences students with an interest in that general area can combine genetics with courses in animal and plant breeding. Massey Auckland and Manawatū have a very strong reputation in molecular evolution and studies of molecular phylogenies which marry with genetics particularly well.

Research-led teaching

Your Bachelor of Science (Genetics) lecturers are active researchers across a range of topics from the impacts of climate change to the study of complex human disease. You’ll learn about the newest developments in genetics and have access to New Zealand Genomics Limited. This service provides scientists from New Zealand and around the world help with interpretation of data generated by “next generation DNA sequencing technology”.


Some of the topics taught in genetics courses include:

  • Biology and genetics of micro-organisms
  • Genes and gene expression
  • DNA technology
  • Genetic analysis
  • Human genetics
  • Gene regulation
  • Practical genetics
  • Bioinformatics and genomics
  • Cell signalling

A fast-paced, exciting field of science

Genes have helped unlock the secrets of our past, present and future. Ten years ago we would sequence one piece of DNA or RNA at a time – and this was how the human genome was deciphered. Today scientists can sequence millions of pieces of DNA simultaneously. The past

  • Genetic testing of skeletal remains in the South island tells us that some of the earliest New Zealand pioneers were from many different families
  • DNA analyses identified the body of King Richard III (more than 500 years after his death) under a car park in England
  • Analyses of DNA provide the cornerstone for our understanding of the living world: what the nature of flora and fauna is and where different species have come from

The present

  • Genetic research is helping us understand why certain diseases are prevalent and why genetic mutations can be ‘good’ in some situations and ‘bad’ in others. For example, It is a genetic mutation that enables some adults to consume dairy products (lactase persistence). This mutation is thought to have spread through human populations with the rise of dairy farming
  • Another gene ‘defect’ is one that helps prevent HIV infection and AIDs progression. The mutation evolved much earlier than the origins of AIDs. The hunt is on to discover the cause

The future

  • Accompanying climate change is the emergence of new pathogens that affect water quality, our agricultural systems and the health of our forests and alpine herb fields. Researchers at Massey are investigating the genetics of pathogens and the biological systems they invade. We hope to understand both the emergence of novel pathogens and the resilience of our natural and farmed ecosystems.

Complementary study

Solving the big problems of today is increasing a multidisciplinary endeavour. We recommend that you include other disciplines in your study, so you can more easily work with others. The BSc at Massey allows you to do this. Relevant subjects include ecology, nutrition, chemistry, information sciences and statistics.

Postgraduate study - fast track or take your time

If you are a top graduate you can proceed to a one-year Bachelor of Science with Honours BSc(Hons)) and from that directly into a PhD programme. We also have a fast-track BSc/BSC(Hons) pathway for excellent students that could see you starting a PhD after just three years at Massey.

Alternatively you can study a Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSc) or our Master of Science programme. Or you can go job hunting with your world-recognised BSc. Many of our subject areas provide opportunities for postgraduate study while in work, so you can start earning and continue to add to your qualifications.


New Zealand’s science institutions want employees who know their industry and therefore invest in the future workforce by providing scholarships to students. Why not have a crack at helping fund your study with a share of hundreds of thousands of dollars on offer every year? For more information visit:

A good fit if you:

  • Are interested in the natural world
  • Are interested in where our genes come from, how they work, affect who we are and how we think
  • Want to learn about the biological revolution that is changing the face of medicine, agriculture and environmental science
Megan Skiffington
Bachelor of Science

“My studies gave me a broad scientific knowledge-base to work on, as well as research and communication skills that have proven invaluable in my position…”

A Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in genetics plus physiological and molecular plant biology, has opened many doors and accelerated my career. After being lucky enough to work in a leading fungal genetics laboratory and a plant molecular biology unit in two different institutes during my studies, I decided to go towards the business side of science, as opposed to research.

I now manage key accounts for a leader in the scientific supplies field. I deal with people at all levels of the scientific profession, and am able to relate to the goals they are trying to achieve because of my background in science from Massey. My studies gave me a broad scientific knowledge-base to work on, as well as research and communication skills that have proven invaluable in my position. My job is different every day - it gives me independence and keeps me interested.



At Massey we incorporate the structure, function and history of genetics in your learning so you gain skills and knowledge of cutting-edge techniques, developments and research all relevant to your future job. For example, you’ll learn about the new era of personal genomics - an area with vast opportunities and equal controversy. By understanding the science and the debate on personal genetic information, corporate access to it and the bioethics you will learn to evaluate and create solutions to meet future needs.

As part of your studies you will also develop the communication and quantitative skills that are important for many careers. These are skills that employers are looking for across a wide range of industries and science-related organisations.

Graduates in genetics from Massey University hold a wide range of positions both in New Zealand and overseas, such as:

  • Biotechnology industries
  • Laboratory research positions
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Scientific sales
  • Plant and animal breeding
  • Government regulatory agencies
  • Teaching
  • Biological information technology
  • Producer boards
  • Scientific journalism

As a graduate you may also find employment in a variety of industries whose core business involves biological products.

If you continue to a BSc(Hons) or MSc degree you will be even more marketable for positions in industry and government-funded institutions.

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