Bachelor of Science (Physiology)

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Want to know what makes you tick?

Physiology is a rapidly advancing and exciting subject area. Just how important is physiology? It’s the only biological science for which you can win a Nobel Prize!

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science parent structure

What is it like?

Physiology explains how cells, tissues and organs work together to maintain normal body function. It provides the foundation on which we build our knowledge about life, so we can recognise problems and develop new treatments for disease.

Early on, you’ll get a broad understanding of the functions and integration of the major organ systems of the body. Later courses let you delve into specific topics for in-depth learning.

Leading in both human and animal physiology

Physiology provides the basis of modern medicine, connecting science and health. You can combine physiology with other disciplines like nutrition, sport and exercise, biochemistry or molecular biology for a multidisciplinary approach.

If you’re interested in working with animals, we have leading experts across a range of animal-based sciences, including animal science, zoology and veterinary science. You will learn how animals and their bodies function and interact with their environment.


Ever wondered how your diet influences the skeleton, or how the stomach and intestine deal with food, or even how climate change impacts the survival ability of penguins? Our academics are at the forefront of research like this and use it in their teaching, so what you learn is relevant and engaging.

As a student you’ll also have the opportunity to tap into these types of research projects and gain experience for future employment. Research in physiology at Massey focuses on nutritional and gastrointestinal physiology, the musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive and endocrine systems, as well as animal welfare.

Study what you want

If you’re keen on human health, you can delve into cellular physiology and also take on a second major in an area such as biochemistry or human nutrition. Alternatively, if you’re keen on animals you can focus on animal physiology and pair this with a second major in zoology, animal science, or ecology.

You can choose to major in physiology or include physiology as part of another major, especially if it deals with advanced animal or human biology. If you’re not sure yet, you can delay your choice of major until the start of your second year, and seek advice to select the appropriate 100-level courses for the majors you are interested in.

Lots of subject choices

One big advantage of studying physiology at Massey is that you can choose a double major - for example, physiology plus agribusiness, agricultural science, animal science, business studies, biochemistry, chemistry, ecology, exercise and sport science, geography, human nutrition, microbiology, plant biology, psychology or zoology. There’s loads of choice.


Some of the topics taught include:

  • Applied physiology and animal welfare
  • Cell physiology
  • Comparative physiology
  • Control of metabolism
  • Human lifecycle physiology
  • Nerves and the nervous system
  • Physiological control systems
  • Physiological strategies for survival
  • Physiology of mammalian organ systems

Transferable skills

You’ll learn about the biological processes important in living systems, and you’ll also master a wide range of transferable technical and scientific skills. The critical thinking, planning and analysis needed in science, and the communication skills involved in writing about and presenting science, are very highly valued in other fields.

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.


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:

  • Like biology and chemistry
  • Are curious about how your body works
  • Want to work in human or animal health sciences
Sharon Henare
Bachelor of Science (Physiology)
Master of Science
Research Officer, School of Health Sciences

“The programme was both challenging and exciting…”

I have always been interested in how things work, particularly living systems. Physiology was a natural fit because it is so diverse. The programme was both challenging and exciting ­ a good mix of animal and human physiology.

My research career began in reproductive physiology investigating how hormones influence reproduction in birds. Now I work in gastrointestinal physiology investigating how food structures affect digestion in the gut.

As far as jobs go, physiology occupies a central position among the biological sciences so the skills you develop can be easily applied to other disciplines. Majoring in physiology gives you a good solid basis for a career in the biomedical fields.

Today I work in research at the School of Health Sciences, examining the relationship between food science and nutrition. My advice to students? Be open to all the opportunities that come your way, even if at first you don’t see the connections to the skills you have developed during your studies. The connections will be there and will open doors you may never have considered before.


Physiology is key if you want to work in human or animal health sciences.

Wide variety of options

Can you picture yourself conducting vital research in universities, Crown Research Institutes or pharmaceutical or biotech companies? If you really want to go far, you could even be a research physiologist in outer space, discovering how the body adapts to zero gravity.

What about working in one of the world’s growth industries - healthcare? You can specialise in nutrition, toxicology, pharmacy, radiography, physiotherapy, nursing, or public and environmental health. How about teaching in schools or hospitals? Or you may fancy a career in the medical, veterinary or food industries, a job in medical writing, or in the active world of sport science, exercise and recreation.

Join the engine of the new New Zealand

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