Environmental Health – Bachelor of Health Science

Protect people and communities from threats to their health from built and natural environments, with the Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health).

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Not open to international students
Note: Some courses contain compulsory on-campus contact workshops.

Specialise in Environmental Health for your Bachelor of Health Science at Massey

The environmental health major of Massey’s Bachelor of Health Science (BHlthSc) is designed to give you the training needed for a professional career in human health protection. You’ll learn how to protect people and communities from threats to health from our built and natural environments.

What is environmental health?

Environmental health is the professional area concerned with all aspects of the environment that may affect human health.

Threats to human health may be biological, physical or chemical. They may come from natural processes, human activity, or a combination of the two. You’ll study topics such as:

  • food safety
  • infectious disease transmission
  • drinking water quality
  • urban air pollution.
  • the hazards of excessive noise
  • exposure to toxic and other hazardous substances,
  • workplace monitoring
  • medical geochemistry
  • contaminated site assessment
  • waste management
  • climate change.

Environmental Health has a strong practical focus because a core purpose of this major is to allow our graduates to apply for roles as Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) with city or district councils and/or Health Protection Officers (HPOs) with Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora. You will:

  • hear from expert practitioners in environmental health law, environmental monitoring, and disaster management
  • undertake site visits to a drinking-water treatment plant and a municipal swimming pool
  • learn about food sampling and verification
  • and become qualified to take environmental noise measurements.

Several students have found work as trainee EHOs and HPOs, while working through their degree. Each year some councils take on final-year Environmental Health students in EHO ‘shadowing’ roles, for direct work experience.

What isn’t environmental health?

In the health context, environmental health does not mean the health of the wider environment – for that you would study environmental science. However, there is a complex range of inter-relationships between the two areas. Climate change is a good example of an environmental impact that will have major direct and indirect impacts on human health.

Further study

You may wish to consider further study once you have completed your degree such as a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science or Master of Health Science.

A Bachelor of Health Science in Environmental Health is a good fit if you:

  • would like to play a key role in community health protection
  • like communicating with people from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • are comfortable with applied science and love a challenge.

Planning information

If you study full-time, you’ll take eight 15-credit courses each year.

Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.

About this major

A major is compulsory in the Bachelor of Health Science. To complete the Environmental Health major you must pass 120 credits in specified areas.

Full-time study plan

This includes compulsory core courses, major courses, prerequisite courses and recommended electives

Year One

Semester One

  • 231106 Introduction to Public Health
  • 250100 Health Communication
  • 214101 Human Bioscience: Normal Body Function
  • Elective

Semester Two

  • 214102 Applied Sciences for Health Professionals
  • 231107 Social Determinants of Health
  • 150112 Hauora tangata: Foundations of Māori Health
  • Elective
Year Two

Semester One

  • 250205 Principles and Practice of Human Epidemiology
  • 214201 Human Bioscience: Impaired Body Function
  • 150202 Mauri ora: Māori Wellbeing and Vitality
  • 214216 Environmental and Public Health Law

Semester Two

  • 214212 Research Methods in the Health Sciences
  • 214213 Toxic Substances, Human Health and the Environment
  • Elective
  • Elective
Year Three

Semester One

  • 214215 Food Safety and Human Health
  • 250331 Health of Communities
  • 214312 Environmental Monitoring and Investigative Methods
  • 214316 Bio-Physical Effects of Noise and Vibration

Semester Two

  • 250303 Systems Thinking and Design for Health
  • 214311 Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases
  • 214314 Water and waste Treatment
  • 214301 Environmental Health Risk Management for Disasters

Many of the courses have practical hands-on experiential elements built into them. There is also the option for you to gain practical experience in your final semester of study by taking the elective course 250320 Work Integrated Learning in Health Sciences.

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Undergraduate Degrees, Undergraduate Diplomas, Undergraduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and Graduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification 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 qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Courses you can enrol in

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Core courses for the Bachelor of Health Science

As well as the specialisation courses listed below, this qualification has core courses that you will need to complete.

Bachelor of Health Science core courses

Environmental Health courses

Compulsory courses

Choose 120 credits from
Course code: 214213 Toxic Substances, Human Health and the Environment 15 credits

A study of the interactions of key groups of toxic substances with the human body and the ecosystem. Provides an overall understanding of the terminology, principles, concepts and methodologies. Discusses applications to human or environmental toxicological risk assessment.

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Course code: 214215 Food Safety and Human Health 15 credits

Introduces students to the key issues surrounding the preparation, handling and delivery of safe food, and applications of food safety, HACCP, inspection and assessment techniques, food legislation and common problems, will be examined. Will include a study of relevant organisations involved in the food industry.

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Course code: 214216 Environmental and Public Health Law 15 credits

Legislative, judicial and administrative aspects of the New Zealand legal system as they apply to environmental health. Examination of statutory and common law legal issues, collection of evidence and prosecutions, management of cases, negligence and potential liability. Special focus on the RMA (1991) and Health Act (1956).

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Course code: 214301 Environmental Health Risk Management for Disasters 15 credits

Advanced theory and practice in environmental health risk management applicable to typical disaster and humanitarian relief scenarios encountered in New Zealand/Pacific Rim.

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Course code: 214311 Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases 15 credits

The nature of important communicable diseases and the factors that influence the occurrence, prevention and control of infectious diseases. The microbiology of common agents of communicable diseases. Examination of the major reasons for disease emergence and resurgence. Concepts and applications of epidemiology in relation to infectious and non-infectious agents.

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Course code: 214312 Environmental Monitoring and Investigative Methods 15 credits

Exploration of approaches used to sample and test air, water, soil or food for human health protection purposes; from sampling design to techniques used, and from data validation to the interpretation and regulatory use of results.

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Course code: 214314 Water and Waste Treatment 15 credits

Water treatment for drinking water supplies and public bathing facilities, the treatment and disposal of liquid (e.g. sewage) and solid wastes for the provision and maintenance of public health, with particular reference to common systems.

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Course code: 214316 Bio-Physical Effects of Noise and Vibration 15 credits

Sources, propagation, measurement units and effects of noise and vibration on human health. Measurement and assessment of these factors in the community. Instrumentation, procedures, collection of data and interpretation; legislation, standards and guidelines; and requirements for legal action.

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Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

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

Specific requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for this qualification, outside of university admission regulations. 

English language requirements

To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Can't meet the entry requirements?

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

Fees and scholarships

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.

Scholarship and award opportunities

Search our scholarships and awards

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

With a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in environmental health, you’ll be ready for a wide range of careers. Most jobs in environmental health involve working with people to promote a healthier environment in which to live. Two key occupations are: health protection officers (HPOs) with Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora and environmental health officers (EHOs) with local councils.

Here are some examples of the types and fields of work that await you:

  • Central government – Ministry of Primary Industries; Ministry of Health; Environmental Protection Authority: technical advisors; policy analysts; programme managers.
  • Local government – health protection officers or environmental health officers; public health advice, food safety/Food Act compliance; building inspection; liquor licensing work; resource consenting; disaster management and emergency planning; waste management; water quality management.
  • Private sector – consultancies and industry; food quality assurance; workplace and environmental safety; waste management; food safety auditing; environmental quality assurance.

In the future, many of the health issues that concern us at the moment will take second stage to environmental health problems. These include climate change, an upsurge in the frequency of severe weather events, the depletion of natural resources, challenges in maintaining food security, mass migrations, the spread of zoonotic diseases (COVID-19 is only one example) and increasingly polluted air, soil and water. These are going to make the next century especially challenging for economic and socio-political systems and human civilisation as a whole.

Professionals in this area are increasingly sought after. In New Zealand these include:

  • Environmental Health Officers who work with local authorities, and
  • Health Protection Officers who work with Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora.


Ministry of Health logo

Environmental Health Officers Qualifications Regulations 1993

Our environmental health qualifications are recognised by the Ministry of Health as meeting qualification requirements for environmental health officers. Our qualifications are also recognised as suitable background for employment of Environmental Health Officers in Australia.

Learn more

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