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Master of Science (Biochemistry)

Key facts

  • Available at Auckland
  • Available at Manawatū
  • Not all listed subject course options are on offer every year
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Solve the mysteries of living organisms

Biochemists help to solve the mysteries of living organisms including the genome, its organisation and expression and how genes interact with the environment

Find out more about the Master of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

In Massey University’s Master of Science (Biochemistry) you will undertake enquiry-based course work and a unique research project under the guidance of experts in their respective fields.

Intellectually challenging

It is an intensive, intellectually challenging programme where time management is critical and where you can expect to acquire many transferable skills, sought after by employers.

Biochemistry focuses on the structure and function of proteins, the intricacies of cellular metabolism and communication and information transfer from nucleic acids to improve our knowledge and understanding of biomedical science, biotechnology and biological chemistry.

World-leading facilities and equipment

Massey University is well supported with specialist equipment to carry out biochemistry research. In addition to a dedicated tissue culture facility, real-time PCR instruments, specialised fluorescence microscopes and plate readers, the Manawatu Microscopy Centre is housed within the Institute. Confocal, and scanning, transmission and epifluorescence microscopy services and expertise are therefore on site.

Genome sequencing services are also readily accessible with both the Massey Sequencing Service and a New Zealand Genome Limited laboratory housed on the university’s Manawatu campus. This service centre is equipped with ABI3730 and Illumina MiSeq instruments and associated expertise. A group of dedicated bioinformatics experts support this service. We house a full suite of protein purification, separation and analysis equipment, including DIGE imaging and access to mass spectrometers. There is also an X-ray diffraction laboratory and access to the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne.

Friendly environment - passionate scientists

There is a well-established community of fundamental scientists and students at Massey. We have a large active student group - the Fundamental Science Students Association (FUSSTA) - where we work together to share discoveries and research and provide peer support.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The Master of Science will push you to produce your best creative, strategic and theoretical ideas. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles. Our experts are there to guide but if you have come from undergraduate study, you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning and undertaking research. You need to be prepared to take responsibility for the direction of your research, always supported by experienced mentors.

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate degree in biochemistry,
  • Want to apply your biochemistry background to cutting edge research
  • Want to learn how to be an independent researcher and critical thinker
  • Are ambitious and enjoy a challenge
  • Want to make a difference
Amanda Gribble
Master of Science (Biochemistry)
Quality Control Leader, Lion

“My MSc in biochemistry has opened many doors to the science industry…”

After completing my MSc degree in biochemistry I worked for AgResearch in the Food Assurance and Meat quality team as a research associate. The research used molecular and microbiological techniques to investigate spoilage bacteria commonly associated with meat and dairy products.

I then moved to Auckland where I joined Lion at their wine bottling site, rapidly moved up the ranks and I am currently Quality Control leader. This means I lead a team of technicians in the analytical laboratory where they complete a wide range of chemical tests including enzymatic assays to ensure the quality of wine before and after bottling.

My current role involves laboratory management and leadership of laboratory technicians. We use analytical chemistry to test wine products to make sure they are in specification before going to trade.

The best part about postgraduate study at Massey was that many of the techniques that I had learnt in undergraduate studies were able to be practiced . Postgraduate study gave me the confidence to put theory into practice in a laboratory which I am now doing in my previous and current job.

My MSc in biochemistry has opened many doors to the science industry not only through the different laboratory techniques I learnt during my degree, but also good laboratory practices, troubleshooting skills, communication, leadership and team work.


As a Master of Science graduate in biochemistry you will have a wide range of career opportunities and can expect these to lead to leadership and managerial roles. These could be in areas including pure and applied research, quality control, product development, and positions of responsibility in medical, forensic, or analytical laboratories.

You could also work in government departments in policy development and analysis. Jobs in these areas can lead to high-level careers in management and administration in science and health-related fields.

Potential employers include

  • Crown Research Institutes (AgResearch, HortResearch, Plant and Food Research)
  • Industry-based research institutes (Dairy, Meat, Wool, Wheat, Forestry, Leather)
  • Wineries, breweries, food and animal feedstuff industries
  • Pharmaceutical development and manufacturing
  • Secondary and tertiary educational institutions
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Scientific publishers
  • District health Boards
  • Banks and finance companies
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Ministry of Business and Enterprise

A master's degree in biochemistry provides graduates with internationally-marketable skills. It will provide opportunities for employment and careers across the globe.

Sought after by employers

International trends are for employers to reward postgraduate study well, especially in larger enterprises. The skills you learn are increasingly recognised as setting you apart from other potential employees.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand:

  • Young master’s graduates earn more than one and a half times more than the national median (five years after study)
  • Earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed
  • Five years after completion, the median earnings of young master’s graduates are 15% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.

International chemistry and engineering publications have run surveys showing clearly that the more postgraduate study you complete, the higher your salary in the workforce.

World-leading lecturers

Massey’s biochemistry staff are internationally renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with recognised discipline specialists, for example:

Associate Professor Kathryn Stowell

Dr Kathryn Stowell was appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Biomedical Science in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

Her research team discovered the genetic basis for malignant hyperthermia susceptibility and pioneered the development of DNA-based molecular diagnosis to replace the traditional muscle biopsy that results in severe patient discomfort and trauma. The malignant hyperthermia (MH) syndrome results in susceptibility to commonly used anaesthetics leading to potentially fatal consequences. She adapted her DNA-based molecular test to identify known and novel mutations responsible for MH. This research has had a significant impact on anaesthesiology, diagnosis of MH susceptibility and management of MH patients throughout the world.

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