Programme list > Bachelor of Science > Molecular Cell Biology

Bachelor of Science (Molecular Cell Biology)


Change the face of our world

Learn how advances in molecular analysis are changing the face of medicine, agriculture, horticulture and ecology – and how you can help.

  • Level

  • Undergraduate, NZQF Level 7
  • Campus

  • Auckland, Manawatū
  • Duration

  • 3 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
  • International

  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Note: This programme may have an on-campus or in-person requirement and therefore requires that students submit a current My Vaccine Pass on enrolment.

Molecular cell biology encompasses a hugely important area of study for the 21st century. It unifies many disciplines, ranging from cell biology, physiology and chemistry to computer science, and from patent law and medicine, to bioprotection and food production. It underpins many exciting and dynamic industries that are changing rapidly.

In the Bachelor of Science (Molecular Cell Biology) you will study the big questions of life:

  • What are we made of?
  • How do we work?
  • Where did we come from?
  • How are we and our world changing and adapting?
  • How are organisms related and how does evolution work at a molecular level?
  • Why do diseases or disorders develop and how can we treat them?
  • How can we create better medicines and more efficient agriculture?
  • How can we protect ourselves and our environment from disease?

Join world-leading researchers

Your lecturers in the BSc will present relevant cutting-edge examples from their own research. They will help you develop the skills and knowledge to become molecular biological scientists of the future.

Get connected

Our Manawatū campus will connect you with a wider teaching and research environment of applied (biomedical, veterinary science, food science, agriculture) and traditional biology disciplines. You will have many elective (optional courses in areas of your interest) choices and the interactions and excitement of being part of a large group of biology-focused students.

Make industry connections

Your study will benefit from the breadth of strong connections between Massey and research and development agencies including Fonterra, Leather and Shoe Research Association, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research – all of which are located across the road from our campus. We also work with the Mid Central District Health Board and New Zealand Pharmaceuticals. Our formal research collaborations are spread throughout New Zealand as well as the Pacific Islands, USA, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.

Develop the skills employers are looking for

As a graduate of Massey’s BSc (Molecular Cell Biology) you will have developed a sound working knowledge of the fundamental aspects of the combined disciplines. You will also develop skills in written and oral communication, and we will help you develop an analytical approach to problem-solving. These skills are all sought after by employers, and will ensure that you will have options in a wide range of careers, and the ability to progress quickly.

Careers and further study


The Molecular Cell Biology major will provide you with internationally-marketable skills. Many of our graduates spend a period of time outside New Zealand, either furthering their studies at leading universities or in employment.

Possible career opportunities include pure and applied research, quality control, product development and work in medical, forensic, and analytical laboratories. You could also work in information services such as libraries and scientific publishing organisations.

Molecular Cell Biology graduates also have jobs in sales and marketing – especially of scientific equipment, chemicals, and reagents for biological research and drugs. Jobs in these areas can lead to high-level careers in management and administration in science and health-related fields.

Potential employers include:

  • medical laboratories
  • NZ Crown Research Institutes (AgResearch, HortResearch, Plant & Food Research, Scion, Landcare Research, Environmental Science and Research) as well as international research institutes
  • agricultural and horticultural sectors: dairy, meat, wool, wheat, forestry, leather
  • wineries, breweries and food industries
  • pharmaceutical manufacturing and scientific supply companies
  • secondary and tertiary educational institutions (education and research)
  • biotechnology companies
  • scientific publishers
  • New Zealand Government (Ministry of Primary Industries, Ministry of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Tertiary Education Commission), regional and local councils.

If you continue your studies to a higher degree (BSc(Hons), MSc, and PhD) there are careers in scientific research, tertiary teaching and higher level management.

Earn more

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.

International students

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.

Entry requirements

University admission

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Programme admission


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. However, if you have not studied these subjects we have a pathway for you to progress to your major (see below).

  • 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 some time since you have 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:

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.

Pathway tool

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.

Find your pathway

English language and foundation courses

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, we have courses and qualifications that may help.

Summer School

If you need to do a course before you start your programme, there may be options for you in Summer School.

Courses and planning

Credit summary

360 credits

  • 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

200 level courses (60 credits)

Compulsory courses

45 credits
122202 The Dynamic Cell 15
122231 Genes and Gene Expression 15
203210 Genetics and Evolution 15
15 credits
122201 The Molecular Cell 15
203203 Biomedicine 15

300 level courses (60 credits)

Compulsory courses

45 credits
122303 Gene Regulation 15
203310 DNA Technology 15
203311 Genome Science 15
15 credits
122301 Proteins and Cell Biology 15
196318 Molecular Ecology 15

Planning your programme

Planning overview

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.

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.

Molecular Cell Biology 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.

Suggested structure

100-level courses

Take these first:

Then take:

Take these in any order:

Recommended 100-level electives

Two of the following, depending on interest:

  • 123.105 Chemistry and the Physical World
  • 196.101 Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
  • 199.103 Animals and the Environment
  • 214.101 Human Bioscience: Normal Body Function
  • 120.101 Plant Biology.
200-level courses in the major

Take all four:

300-level courses in the major

Take all four:

100-level courses

Take these first:

Then take:

Take these in any order:

Recommended 100-level electives

Two of the following, depending on interest:

  • 123.105 Chemistry and the Physical World
  • 196.101 Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
  • 199.103 Animals and the Environment
  • 214.101 Human Bioscience: Normal Body Function
  • 120.101 Plant Biology.
200-level courses in the major

Take all four:

300-level courses in the major

Take all of:

And at least one of:

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 Molecular Cell Biology 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 and Conservation (include 196.101 and 199.103 in your first year)
  • Human Nutrition (Auckland only) (include 214.101 in your first year)
  • Microbiology (Manawatū only)
  • Physiology (Auckland only) (include 214.101 in your first year)
  • Plant Science (Manawatū only) (include 189.151 and 120.101 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 (Molecular Cell Biology) 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 Molecular Cell Biology include those shown below. Timetabling will prioritise these combinations to minimise clashes.

  • Chemistry (include 123.105 in your first year)
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology (include 214.101 in your first year).
A Molecular Cell Biology minor (for students who are studying a different degree)

If you are not studying a Bachelor of Science (Molecular Cell Biology) and wish to complete a Molecular Cell Biology 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?

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:

  • enjoy sciences, especially biology and the life sciences
  • are interested in genes and genomes
  • would like to study on the Manawatū campus.

Accreditations and rankings

QS Ranking - Biological Sciences

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.

Undergraduate programmes

General Regulations for Undergraduate Degrees, Undergraduate Diplomas, Undergraduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and Graduate Certificates.

Regulations for this programme

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
1 6 2 . 3   0 1
Subject area   Level   Course ID number

About electives

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.

Estimate workload

Returning students

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.

Find and apply for scholarships