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Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Ecology)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Pathway to masters

A postgraduate diploma is the stepping stone to a research-based degree such as a masters or PhD.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology parent structure.

What is it like?

Massey University’s Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Ecology) gives you the opportunity to join the pathway to in-depth research at a master's level. The programme consists of 90 credits of taught programmes and 30 credits of research.

The programme gives you the opportunity to show your analytical thinking and high-level research capability. If you complete the programme at a satisfactory level you may be able to proceed to the Master of Science (Ecology). If so, credits you have gained through this qualification may be credited to the master's programme.

Opportunity to specialise

The Ecology Group at Massey has a large teaching and support staff, with diverse expertise. As a postgraduate student undertaking master's studies you will have the opportunity to specialise in stimulating subjects ranging from:

  • Biodiversity and biogeography
  • Community ecology
  • Behavioural ecology
  • Lake and river management
  • Plant ecology
  • Modelling animal populations
  • Soil communities and ecosystem function

You will benefit from Massey’s strong collaborative links with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, Landcare Research, AgResearch, NIWA, Fish & Game NZ, regional, district and city councils and private sector environmental consulting firms.

Facilities and equipment

The ecology complex at Massey has an excellent range of facilities and equipment including controlled temperature and light rooms, glasshouses and a workshop for making field equipment. There are labs for microscopy and image analysis, chemical analysis, ancient DNA, freshwater fish and invertebrates, insects and plant ecology, animal behaviour and soil invertebrate extraction.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but very rewarding and empowering. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles. Our experts are there to guide but you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study.

Not just more of the same

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

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate science degree, or are near completion (one or two courses to go)
  • Are interested in postgraduate study in an ecology-related subject, but do not have a research background, or
  • Would like to undertake a predominantly taught postgraduate programme
Stella McQueen
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Ecology)
Author and contractor

“The work level in the postgraduate diploma was really challenging - but the courses I found the most difficult were actually the most satisfying because I learnt a huge amount…”

My pathway into a postgraduate science degree probably isn’t standard! I originally did a BA in history, but after a time working I wanted a change.

The tipping point for my move to science was when I bought some native New Zealand fish. I was trying to figure out how to look after them and discovered there was no useful material. So I started writing an article, which turned into the now-published book The New Zealand Native freshwater Aquarium - a guide on keeping native fish in aquaria.

Through this work I met Professor Mike Joy from Massey University who encouraged me to do some further study. I had always been interested in postgraduate study, but hadn’t thought about ecology. I completed a one-year Graduate Diploma, which was the stepping stone that allowed me to enrol in the PGDip in ecology.

This was about ten years after I started my first degree - it was really interesting coming back as a mature student, and so much better! You know what you want to do and why you have to do it.

Studying this qualification at Massey dramatically improved my critical thinking and understanding of scientific concepts. Along with the writing skills I learnt during my BA, it really helped my understanding of how to turn scientific concepts into something the public can understand.

Before I’d even finished my degree the renowned wildlife photographer Rod Morris approached me to do a book . I moved into a campervan and travelled around New Zealand talking to scientists and viewing new fish types I hadn’t come across before. That resulted in the book ‘A photographic guide to freshwater fishes of New Zealand’.

Today I work on short term contracts like work for DOC in Taranaki, Wanganui and Motueka as well as writing projects. I am also the resident ‘freshwater fish person’ on Bryan Crump’s ‘Nights’ show on the Thursday night scientist slot on Radio New Zealand.


A postgraduate qualification in ecology will allow you to approach many environmental research and management issues from a strong theoretical and practical base. Massey ecology graduates may find employment with the Department of Conservation, Regional Councils, Government Research Institutes and Environmental Consultants. Our postgraduate degrees are well regarded internationally so you may continue your studies overseas at a PhD level.

Others have added another specialisation to become an ecotoxicologist, environmental economist, or even an environmental lawyer.

Sought after by employers

International trends are for employers to reward postgraduate study well, especially in larger enterprises. The skills you learn are increasingly recognised as setting you apart from other potential employees.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed.

World-class lecturers

Dr Maria Minor

Dr Minor is a specialist in soil ecology (focusing on ecology of soil invertebrates), systems ecology (focusing on the interactions between human land use and biodiversity) and New Zealand's biological heritage (focusing on diversity and conservation of native invertebrate fauna). 

Dr Minor and her students are working on a range of fundamental and applied projects dealing with soil ecology and invertebrate biodiversity, as well as using insects as biocontrol agents. The focus is often on an interdisciplinary approach, using modelling tools to study the interactions between ecological systems and our economic activities. 

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