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Master of Science (Zoology)

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

Take advantage of our zoology expertise

Join a university that has more breadth and depth of knowledge in zoology-related topics than any other university in New Zealand.

Find out more about the Master of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

When you study towards the Masters of Science (Zoology), you will be able to take advantage of Massey’s expertise in animal-related disciplines. We have a wide and relevant group of expertise within the university, from zoology, veterinary science, ecology, wildlife health and conservation biology, to agriculture, physiology, animal science, environmental management and social sciences.

You will learn from, and research with, highly-skilled internationally recognised and active researchers in these fields, with a huge depth of knowledge and experience. Whatever focus you’d like to have in your postgraduate study and research, there is likely to be an expert at Massey who can help you dig deeper into your area of interest.

Work across the sciences

The programme also works across related majors within the MSc – for instance if you major in zoology, you can also still take courses from across the other complementary Master of Science majors of conservation biology and ecology, giving you an in-depth knowledge of those most closely related programmes.

When you graduate with a Master of Science (Zoology) you will have learned how to work at a high level of academic achievement, work to deadlines under pressure and communicate effectively.

Complete in 1.5 years

Massey University’s Master of Science is primarily a 180 credit master qualification which is half taught and half research projects.

A 240 credit MSc is also available if you want to do more in-depth research.

Or if you have already completed the BSc (Hons) or PGDipSc you can conduct a 120 credit thesis to achieve your master's qualification.

Relevant and topical

We work to ensure that our teaching fits with the changing environment, which means that you will emerge with a relevant qualification valued by potential employers. Massey has strong links with industry, used to help our students find relevant and topical research projects. These projects are often focused on end-user results – you will work with organisations like the Department of Conservation and regional councils to solve real problems that our communities and environment are facing today.

Examples of courses you can choose within the zoology major include animal behaviour, entomology, biodiversity, conservation biology, and conservation endocrinology and reproductive biology.

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.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ 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:

  • Would like a career related to zoology and animals
  • Would like to do an industry-relevant research project
  • Want to study with lecturers and co-students who are passionate about zoology


The broad base of expertise of this qualification is very attractive to potential employers, especially in those areas related to our industry connections, like regional councils and the Department of Conservation. Other graduates have gone on to work as zoology technicians, wildlife managers, environmental consultants, or in animal-related positions with zoos, universities, government departments, and private organisations.

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

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

Professor Murray Potter

Professor Potter has extensive experience in pivotal industries related to ecology and zoology issues in New Zealand and abroad. For example in his early working life, before completing his PhD, Professor Potter prepared an early draft of the very first species recovery plan in New Zealand (North Island kokako, 1983). In his next role he helped both pioneer ecological field research on North Island brown kiwi and gather the first quantitative data on mortality factors for kiwi. These data now underpins the management strategies for all populations of kiwi on the mainland.

His key research interest identification of the repeatability of responses by individuals that points to adaptive personalities within species.

His overarching goal is to find practicable solutions to human-wildlife conflict.

Professor Potter is especially interested in studies that integrate the ecology, physiology, and natural history of whole organisms within their natural settings, including how temporal constraints, stress, morphology, and nutrition underpin and interact with an animal's behaviour and ecology.

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