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Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Microbiology)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū

Take your excellence and turn it into something more

If you are interested in further in-depth research this qualification gives you the skills to progress to a PhD in this area.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science (Honours) parent structure.

What is it like?

Massey University’s Bachelor of Science with Honours with a major in microbiology is a prestigious qualification for those that are interested in progressing to further, in-depth research. This postgraduate qualification will also give you a career advantage.

An essential science

Microbiology is an essential science that helps us understand the microbes in the environment, including those that dwell in the soil, air and water, in our food and inside people, animals and plants. Understanding microbiology improves safety and success of food and beverage production and fermentation.

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 community between people may help understand and treat diseases that are typically not considered related to microbes, such as inflammation, allergy, 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 the cattle rumen.


You will gain the advantage of learning in a multi-disciplinary environment. Massey has world-leading expertise in many areas of science, especially veterinary, animal, health and environmental science. You can take advantage of this for your learning and research to look at microbiological sub-disciplines, such as environment/ecology, food and biotechnology.

Let our expertise become yours

You will learn from world-leading specialists in microbiology and related areas like biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology, food science, plant pathology, immunology and epidemiology.

At Massey we use a diverse range of molecular, cellular, plant and animal model tools to investigate the molecular biology of diseases. We also use metagenomics and other advanced genomic technologies to study microbial communities in the environment, including those that may be a health threat if found in food or medical environments. Our biomedical interests are diverse. We research the mechanisms of neurological, skeletal and muscular disorders, infectious microbial diseases and cancer.

Research areas active in our labs include genetic testing, display technologies, vaccine development, production of biopharmaceuticals and nanomaterials from biological systems and the bioengineering of environmentally friendly materials and processes.

World-leading facilities

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.

Relevant learning

During your study 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.

Friendly environment - passionate scientists

There is a well-established community of scientists and students involved in a broad range of microbiological and microbiology-inspired research at Massey. 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 workload of the Bachelor of Science with Honours (Microbiology) replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ as undergraduate study. 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. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning and undertaking research.

A good fit if you:

  • Are passionate about microbiology, biochemistry or genetics
  • Excelled in your undergraduate degree
  • Are interested in going on to more in-depth research, such as a PhD
Dr Iain Hay
Research Fellow, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

“The framework that the microbiology postgraduate programme at Massey provided has allowed me to experience jobs both in the biotechnology industry as well as in academia…”

I graduated from Massey (Manawatū) with a BSc(Hons) in Microbiology and followed that up with a PhD focusing on Molecular Bacteriology. The microbiology postgraduate program at Massey enabled me to refine my specific interests while also providing a well-rounded overview of the current trends in the microbiology and biochemistry subject areas.

From both a clinical and biotechnological standpoint, microbiology is becoming increasingly important, and with the threat of rising numbers of antimicrobial resistant pathogens with no treatment options it is apparent there is a need for well-trained microbiologists.

Since leaving Massey I have had roles as a senior research scientist (Molecular biology) at a biotechnology startup company, and my current role is as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute (infection & immunity) at Monash University in Melbourne. Here my research is focused on the surface of bacterial cells, how this surface is assembled and maintained, and how it interacts with the extracellular environment.


Setting you apart

An honours degree is a sign of your excellence and in-depth understanding of the field of microbiology. Should you pursue a career after qualifying, the Bachelor of Science (Honours) with a major in microbiology will give you a head start on other potential employees with undergraduate degrees.

A step into further study

The honours programme also gives you the research and analytical skills you need to progress into further high-level research/study, such as at a PhD level.

If you are interested in pursuing further research, microbiology is a key discipline of biological sciences. Microbiology research skills are particularly suited for work in the research or teaching institutions in the fields of biomedicine, bioprotection, biotechnology, epidemiology, veterinary and plant pathology.

There are also roles in the legal or business sectors, for instance assisting with the commercialisation of science, drafting of patents and technology transfer agreements.

Dairy, food, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are key employers, however there are numerous other opportunities in cosmetics, breweries, food and oil industries, horticulture, and agriculture. Government and private sectors provide opportunities for bioprotection, regulatory, sample testing or diagnostic laboratory positions..

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.

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

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

Associate Professor Jasna Rakonjac

Dr Rakonjac is a microbiologist specialising in the biology of bacterial viruses (bacteriophages or phages) and their biotechnology applications in medicine and agriculture.

She is the co-inventor of new tools for phage display technology and the gene for the Serum Opacity Factor of Streptococcus pyogenes and its use in detection of important human serum health indicators: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL or "good cholesterol") and fibronectin. Dr Rakonjac is widely published in academic journals and other resources such as reference books and encyclopediae.

Current projects include: i) development of new biological nanorods for applications in high-sensitivity home-use diagnostics and as vaccine carriers; ii) antibacterials directed against pathogens that cause food poisoning and urinary tract infections.

Contact us Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey