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Unique in New Zealand
Massey University is one of only three universities in New Zealand where you can study a full major in microbiology. The breadth of our programme is unique.
- Undergraduate, NZQF Level 7
- 3 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
- Available for international students studying in NZ
Microbiology is an essential science that helps us understand the microbes in the environment, including microbes that dwell in the soil, air and water, in our food and inside people, animals and plants. Microbiology can impact on many different areas, such as:
- agriculture, where rumen microbes are both essential to dairy and good industries, but also responsible for much of New Zealand’s carbon emission;
- bioprotection, where 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;
- green and bio-based technologies, where microbes help preserve our environment by producing bio-based materials for use in diagnostics and vaccines or by harnessing solar energy for fuel production.
In the Massey Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) you will learn about microbiology hand-in-hand with other science areas such as veterinary, animal, and environmental science. This allows you to explore microbiological disciplines, including environment/ecology, medical, veterinary and food microbiology, and biotechnology.
Some of the topics taught in microbiology courses include:
- bioinformatics and genomics
- DNA technology
- environmental microbiology
- medical microbiology
- developing diagnostic tests for infectious diseases (including SARS-CoV2)
- microbial diversity
- applied and industrial microbiology
- food microbiology.
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 useful proteins in bacterial culture. As a graduate, you’ll have lab confidence and the unique ability to show potential employers that you are skilled in lab-based experiments.
You will complete research projects as part of a summer studentship with the Massey University researchers. You’ll gain a real-world insight into the area and connections with potential future employers.
Facilities available to you include our Microscopy and Imaging Centre, Genomics and DNA sequencing facility, protein analysis suite (Mass Spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, NMR), bioreactors and fermentation facilities.
Careers and further study
The growing demand for qualified microbiologists is highlighted by the number of microbiology positions advertised in the scientific journals Science and Nature. The need for microbiologists has been sharply increased by Covid-19 pandemics, where microbiologists play the key roles in developing diagnostic tests and vaccine. 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
- developing affordable and rapid tests for SARS-CoV2 and other disease-causing microbes
- 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.
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.
There is a large and increasing variety of career opportunities for you as a Massey University microbiology graduate.
Upon successful completion of the Massey BSc (Microbiology) graduates, depending on their GPA, are eligible to enrol in BSc(Hons)(Microbiology), MSc (Microbiology), the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Microbiology), or postgraduate degrees in other biological or health science areas.
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 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Biology.
- At least 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Chemistry.
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 also 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 2 Mathematics from the following list of standards: 91256, 91257, 91258, 91259, 91260, 91261, 91262, 91269
If it’s been some time since you studied mathematics at school you can find out if you have the required background by taking this maths quiz.
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
The following pathways will get you prepared to study this major. If you have not studied NCEA Level 3 Biology (or equivalent) take the following course first:
- 162.103 Introductory Biology.
If you have not studied NCEA Level 3 Chemistry (or equivalent) take the following course first:
- 123.103 Chemistry for Modern Sciences.
These courses 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.
The first-year structure is designed to provide you with a broad knowledge and skill set which will equip you to go on to more advanced courses in the second and third years.
Microbiology 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
- 124.103 Biophysical Principles or 160.101 Calculus or 160.102 Algebra or 160.104 Introductory Mathematics for Science or 160.105 Methods of Mathematics.
Take these in the order shown:
Plus choose two 100-level elective courses. These can be from a subject area other than Science.
Students must pass at least 90 credits from the BSc Schedule A, including any compulsory courses, in their first 120 credits of study towards the Bachelor of Science.
200-level courses in the major
Take all four:
- 203.210 Genes, Genomes, and Evolution
- 162.211 Biology and Genetics of Microorganisms
- 162.221 Immunology
- 280.201 Industrial Microbiology.
300-level courses in the major
Take all four:
- 162.301 Medical Microbiology
- 162.304 Applied and Environmental Microbiology
- 203.310 DNA Technology
- 203.311 Genome Analysis.
Not sure of your major yet?
You can change to any BSc major at the end of your first year. Moving from the first year of Microbiology to one of the majors below is particularly simple, as the required first-year courses are similar. By choosing your courses and electives carefully to cover both majors you could easily swap over at the end of first year. Changing your major may incur an increase in completion time.
- Chemistry (include 123.105; and 160.101 or 160.102 or 160.105 in your first year).
- Ecology (include 199.103 and 196.101 in your first year).
- Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry.
- Physiology (include 194.101 in your first year).
- Zoology (include 199.103 and 196.101 in your first year).
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 (Microbiology) 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 Microbiology include those shown below. Timetabling will prioritise these combinations to minimise clashes.
A Microbiology minor (for students who are studying a different degree)
If you are not studying a Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) and wish to complete a Microbiology minor 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.
Already know which courses you're going to choose?
If you already know which courses you are going to take, you can use our fees calculator to get an estimate of your fees.
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 will find their National Student Number on their student homepage.
A good fit if you:
- enjoy the sciences, specifically biology.
Meet our students
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Massey and feel it provided the necessary basis to enter the workforce in my chosen field.” Shanna Hickling
Accreditations and rankings
Massey University is ranked by QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) as one of the top 400 universities in the world for biological sciences.
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
Scholarships related to this programme
There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.