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Understanding Earth systems and tackling environmental problems
When you join the Bachelor of Science (Earth Science) you’ll join an area that’s solving geotechnical and environmental problems.
- Undergraduate, NZQF Level 7
- 3 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
- Available for international students studying in NZ or via distance learning
- Some distance courses contain compulsory contact workshops.
Massey’s Bachelor of Science (Earth Science) will take you on a journey of understanding the processes that moulded our planet. From our landscapes to our geological resources and soils, it’s a huge area to cover, leading to fascinating and varied careers.
Understand how the world works
You’ll develop an appreciation of the immensity of geological time. You’ll graduate with cutting-edge skills and the ability to predict future changes in the Earth’s surface such as natural disasters, climate change and water contamination.
Earth scientists are discovering hydrocarbon and mineral resources. They are establishing policy in resource management, environmental protection, public health, safety, and welfare.
World-leading in Earth, soil science and volcanology
We’ll take you beyond traditional geology. Massey University is one of the few places in the world with a research group that examines the combination of Earth and soil science. We are at the forefront in environmental geochemistry and the evolving discipline of hydrology.
Massey has a focus on finding innovative solutions to environmental issues. You’ll get an insight into the connections between geology, soil science and the environment. You’ll explore metals and plants, mining and remediation.
Massey is the number one place to study Earth Science if you’re interested in volcanoes. We have a large number of internationally renowned volcanology experts. You’ll get to explore this exciting and life-saving area through field trips to volcanoes in the Central North Island. We also have unique equipment that mimics volcanic ash flow.
Advanced Earth science topics include:
- understanding geological structures
- understanding New Zealand geology
- stratigraphy, sedimentology and paleoenvironments
- volcanology and mineralogy
- plate tectonics
- pedology and quaternary geology
- geographic information systems
- remote sensing
- field work.
Careers and further study
Massey University Earth Science graduates are employed in many varied positions around the world, including in:
- various Crown Research Institutes
- regional councils (land and water resources),
- science in the petroleum and petrochemical industries
- resource management
- hazards research
- land rehabilitation
- engineering geology.
If you are interested in a research career, Massey’s BSc will allow you to choose from a wide range of specialist postgraduate programmes throughout New Zealand and overseas.
Research scientists have specialised in geochemistry, paleomagnetism (the Earth's past magnetic fluctuations), palynology (fossil pollen), volcanology, phytoremediation (using plants to remove pollutants from soils), pedology, soil pollution, and groundwater.
A 2017 Ministry of Education publication, The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates showed that those who complete a qualification in a science, agriculture, technology, computer science, engineering or mathematics field of study have high relative earnings after they complete their study compared to the national median. Earnings can be substantially more than other graduates.
If you successfully complete this programme you could progress to study a Master of Science.
New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.
Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.
As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.
All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.
There are no specific entry requirements for this programme, outside of university admission regulations. However, there is some expected background knowledge.
Expected high school preparation
Knowledge gained in the following NCEA subjects (or the equivalent in Cambridge International Examinations, International Baccalaureate, or similar) will give you the expected background knowledge to take this major.
- At least 16 credits in NCEA Level 2 Mathematics from the following list of standards: 91256, 91257, 91258, 91259, 91260, 91261, 91262, 91269.
If it’s some time since you studied mathematics at school you can find out if you have the required background by taking this maths quiz.
English language requirements
To study this programme you must meet Massey University's English language standards.
To be successful in your studies we recommend that you have the following NCEA subjects (or equivalent). These will help your study in this major but are not essential.
- At least 16 credits in NCEA Level 3 Mathematics from the following list of standards: 91573, 91574, 91575, 91576, 91577, 91578, 91579, 91587.
- At least 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Chemistry.
- NCEA Level 3 Geography.
- NCEA Level 3 Physics.
Prior learning, credit and exemptions
For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:
- review the Recognition of Prior Learning regulations
- contact us through the Enquire button on this page.
If you do not have the entry requirements
Haven’t studied the right subjects at high school?
The following pathways will get you prepared to study this major. If you have not studied NCEA Level 2 Mathematics (or equivalent) take one of the following courses first:
These courses (or equivalents) are available in the summer semester and will count towards credits in your degree.
If you are unsure whether you have the right background/subjects to study this programme, our tool will help you to figure out what you might need to do before starting your qualification.
English language and foundation courses
If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, we have courses and programmes that may help.
- English Language Proficiency
- Foundation Certificate in Academic English
- Foundation Certificate in Advanced Academic English
- Full Foundation - Certificate in Foundation Studies
If you need to do a course before you start your programme, there may be options for you in Summer School.
Courses and planning
- Core courses – 90 credits
- Major courses – 120 credits
- Electives from the Schedule – 30 credits
- Other electives – 120 credits
Ensure that overall, you have:
- Not more than 165 credits at 100 level
- At least 75 credits at 300 level
You could replace some electives with a minor.
Courses for this specialisation
Planning your programme
If you study full-time, in your first year, you’ll take eight 15-credit courses, making a total of 120 credits.
If you wish to study over two semesters, you should aim for 60 credits per semester. You may be able to take some courses at summer school. Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.
All Bachelor of Science students will take a selection of compulsory courses throughout the degree. The first year structure is designed to provide students with a broad knowledge and skill set which will equip them to go on to more advanced courses in the second and third years.
You must pass at least 90 credits from the BSc Schedule A, including any compulsory courses, in your first 120 credits of study towards the Bachelor of Science.
Earth Science has similar first year core courses to several other majors available in the Bachelor of Science, allowing students to change their major before their second year. Changing your major may incur an increase in completion time.
Take these in any order:
- 247.113 Science and Sustainability for Science
- 161.111 Applied Statistics or 161.122 Statistics
- 160.101 Calculus or 160.102 Algebra or 160.105 Methods of Mathematics
- 233.105 Our Dynamic Earth.
200-level courses in the major
Take all four:
- 233.211 Earth Materials
- 233.212 Earth Surface Processes
- 233.213 Earth Science Fieldwork
- 233.214 GIS and Spatial Statistics.
300-level courses in the major
Take all four:
- 233.311 Earth Environments Through Time
- 233.312 Natural Hazards
- 233.313 Earth Systems
- 233.314 Remote Sensing and Earth Observation.
Completing a minor is optional. Minors increase the breadth of your degree. They give you extra knowledge, attributes and capabilities.
A minor must be in a different subject from your major.
A Bachelor of Science (Earth Science) with a minor
You may choose a minor from any university undergraduate degree that has recognised minors. If the minor is from another undergraduate degree, the regulations of that programme will apply.
Some BSc minors that are particularly compatible with Earth Science include those shown below. Timetabling will prioritise these combinations to minimise clashes.
- Environmental Science (Include 196.101)
An Earth Science minor (for students who are studying a different degree)
If you are not studying a Bachelor of Science (Earth Science) and wish to complete a minor in Earth Science see the BSc regulations for the requirements of this minor.
Fees and scholarships
Fees and finance
Fees, student loans and free fees scheme
Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.
There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.
- Get an estimate of the tuition fees for your qualification
- View a list of non-tuition fees that may be payable
Already know which courses you're going to choose?
You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.
Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme
You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.
The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.
Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.
A good fit if you:
- are fascinated by our planet, its rocks and fossils and why they are there
- want to make a contribution to science and a difference to people and our environment
- enjoy the sciences at school.
Meet our students
The lectures were well put together, and I found the topics really fascinating. Many of the courses are field work based and I loved being able to work in the outdoors.” Ella Nisbet
Key information for students
Compare qualifications and academic information across different New Zealand institutions.
Review this important information before you apply for this programme. This gives you full details of the rules and regulations about what you need to study and what you must achieve in order to graduate with this qualification. That includes structure, courses and requirements. These regulations should be read in conjunction with all other Statutes and Regulations of the University including the below.
Applying and enrolling
Applying for the programme
Check you are ready
If you are ready to apply, have a look at our application checklist. It will help you get prepared with what you need. Please also check the entry requirements carefully before you apply.
Choose your programme and click on Apply now
You will apply for the programme using the Apply now button on this page. You’ll also choose your specialisation (major, subject or endorsement) if applicable.
Some programmes have additional requirements such as the submission of a portfolio or CV. Click on Apply now and you will be able to submit those documents as part of the application process.
Receive and accept an Admission Offer of Place
You will receive an Admission Offer of Place when you have been accepted into the programme. You need to accept this before you can enrol in your courses. International students also need to pay their fees at this point.
Enrolling in courses
You’ll then get access to your own student homepage (also known as the student portal). This is where you can enrol in courses. Any updates on your application or enrolments will also be on your student homepage. Make sure you check this regularly.
When you choose courses, ensure you check for any requirements that apply including:
- prerequisites (courses you have to do before the one you are enrolling in)
- corequisites (courses you have to do at the same time as the one you are enrolling in)
- restrictions (courses that you cannot enrol in if you are completing or have completed another identified similar course)
- location – for instance some distance-based courses still have an on-campus element, so double check that the way the course is taught is suitable for your situation.
Each of our courses has its own webpage where you can find this information. You can use our course search to find course pages.
More information on courses is in the ‘Courses for this programme’ section on this page.
You can find information on application due dates and semester dates on the key dates page.
We look forward to welcoming you to Massey!
If you have any questions, contact us through the Enquire button on this page.
What are courses and credits?
What are courses and credits?
Each Massey programme is made up of courses (in some tertiary institutions they are called ‘papers’).
You will have some compulsory courses and some you can choose from.
Each course is worth a certain amount of credits (often 15 credits, but this does vary). You must gain a set number of credits to be able to graduate from this programme.
There may also be some rules about which courses you need to pass to progress to the next year, or stage, of your study (known as progression). There are also courses you must pass to graduate with a specialisation.
- See the ‘Courses for this programme’ section for the list of courses.
- Courses search
Understanding course numbers
The first three digits of our course numbers show you which subject the course is about.
The second three digits show you the level and course ID number. For instance:
- sub-degree courses are '0' (i.e. xxx.0xx)
- undergraduate study begins at 100-level, (i.e. xxx.1xx)
- as you progress through 200- and 300-level courses this number changes to 2 and 3 respectively. The higher the number that starts the second three digits, the higher the level of study
|Subject area||Level||Course ID number|
Electives are courses that are not compulsory. Certain guidelines are usually provided on courses you may take. Elective courses contribute to the programme, but not to your major or specialisation.
Workload and time management
Use this tool to help determine how much time you will need each week to complete your studies.
If you started the BSc programme before 2020 you may be completing the programme under the previous regulations, which are listed in Schedule C in the Regulations for this programme.
In some cases the programme or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.
Please contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.
Scholarships and awards
There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.