Bachelor of Science (Microbiology)

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Unique in New Zealand

Massey University is one of the only universities in New Zealand where you can study a full course in microbiology, and the breadth of our course is unique. Emerging New Zealand export industries, such as winemaking and biotechnology, are increasing the demand for graduates from the programme.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science parent structure

What is it like?

About microbiology

Microorganisms are by far the most abundant and widely distributed forms of life on this planet. They are found in such diverse environments such as humans, animals, plants, streams and soil, but also extreme environments such as the boiling waters of hot pools, the ocean depths, and air.

Microbiology helps prevent infectious diseases through development of novel antibiotics and vaccines, but also through use of ‘good’ microbes in prebiotics or probiotics, or microbial community transplantation between patients. Comparing diversity and composition of gut microbial communities between people may help understand and treat diseases that are typically not considered related to microbes, such as inflammation, allergies, neurological disorders, diabetes and even cancer.

Environmental impact of microbiology is reflected in alternative ways to produce fuel, or by increased ability to mitigate the greenhouse gas emission by the microbes in cattle rumen. Microbes are also used as factories for production medications or fuel.


We teach microbiology hand-in-hand with other science areas such as veterinary, animal, and environmental science allowing you to explore microbiological disciplines, including environment/ecology, food and biotechnology.

Heaps of laboratory experience

Exposure and time in labs is a large component of our course and on par with what is usually only seen in employment. For example, you’ll get to do a lab-based simulated research project, such as identification of microbes in environment or food, or producing vaccines. As a graduate, you’ll have personal lab confidence and the unique ability to show potential employers that you can perform given techniques successfully and are skilled in lab-based experiments.

Real-world experience

You will complete research projects as part of a summer studentship with the Massey University researchers who do applied or basic microbiology research or companies and institutes such as Fonterra, AgResearch or Plant and Food Institute and gain insight and connections with potential future employers.

Relevant learning

During your study towards a Massey Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) you will gain a contemporary, relevant view of microbiology which is in line with topical research and developments in the area. You will be exposed to the latest discoveries and research and be able to take advantage of Massey’s expertise in other areas of science.

Earn more

A Ministry of Education report, undertaken over nine years, showed that those who complete a qualification in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field of study have high relative earnings after they complete their study. Earnings can be substantially more than other graduates.


Some of the topics taught in microbiology courses include:

  • Bioinformatics and genomics
  • Biotechnology
  • DNA technology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Medical microbiology
  • Microbial diversity
  • Food microbiology

Solving global issues like

  • Rumen microbes are both essential to New Zealand’s agricultural industries but also responsible for much of New Zealand’s carbon emission
  • Efforts to preserve native birds (Kiwi) and plants (Kauri trees) depend on expert control of microbial pathogens
  • Microbes have applications as model systems to answer questions beyond the immediate range of microbiology, such as the causes of cancer or birth defects
  • Microbes help preserve our environment by producing bio-based materials for use in diagnostics and vaccines or by harnessing solar energy for fuel production.


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:

  • Enjoy the sciences, specifically biology
Shanna Hickling
Bachelor of Science (Microbiology), Bachelor of Science (Genetics)
Graduated 2014
Deputy Laboratory Manager, Linnaeus Laboratory

This degree was a great mixture of theory and practical experience, with majority of my time at university spent in the labs…”

I completed a Bachelor of Science with a double major in microbiology and genetics at Massey University, graduating in 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Massey and feel it provided the necessary basis to enter the workforce in my chosen field. The theory taught in the lectures provided an in-depth background behind the work to be carried out in the accompanying laboratories later the same week. It is a well-structured course with knowledgeable and supportive staff. 

I now work at Linnaeus Laboratory in Gisborne, carrying out environmental testing and a range of horticultural testing and research. I use the skills and techniques learned through my time at Massey University daily in my job. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in microbiology or the sciences.


There is a large and increasing variety of career opportunities for you as a Massey University microbiology graduate.

In demand

The growing demand for qualified microbiologists is highlighted by the number of microbiology positions advertised in the scientific journals Science and Nature. Microbiologists are on the Immediate Skill Shortage List as published by the New Zealand Immigration Office.

Areas graduates could work in include:

  • Reducing global warming and the production of environmentally-friendly biodegradable materials
  • The production of high-value compounds such as antibiotics and vaccines
  • Food production - such as beer, wine and cheese
  • Preventing and treating diseases, forensics and cleaning up pollution
  • Search for life on the bottom of the ocean and on other planets

The importance of microbes in traditional New Zealand industries means that you will be in high demand by these industries and Crown Research Institutes in quality control and research and development.

Other traditional areas of employment include hospital laboratories, universities, Crown Research Institutes, meat and dairy processing or vaccine production companies, quality assurance and diagnostic laboratories (AsureQuality, Hills Laboratories, Eurofins, Gribbles, MedLab Central and others), or government (e.g. Border control, Ministry of Primary Industries, Environmental Protection Authority). Newly emerging New Zealand export industries, such as winemaking and biotechnology, as well as diverse food production companies, employ graduates from the programme.

Join the engine of the new New Zealand

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