Environmental Science – Bachelor of Science

Studying environmental science at Massey will give you the tools and understanding needed to help create a sustainable path for New Zealand and the world.

Where you can study

Distance and online
Manawatū campus (Palmerston North)

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students on campus in New Zealand

Specialise in Environmental Science for your Bachelor of Science at Massey

Environmental science focuses on the connections between humans and their natural environments.

Managing and mitigating human impacts on the environment is crucial for New Zealand and the world. Our reputation depends on us becoming truly clean and green despite the increased pressure on the environment.

Join one of New Zealand’s leading universities in the study of environmental impacts.

Improve our planet

The Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) will see you become involved in Massey’s aims to develop a sustainable path for the future. We are looking to solve real-world issues such as managing natural resources and environmental impacts.

The qualification involves lab work and field trips to water treatment plants and a range of managed and mismanaged environments across the North Island. You’ll explore processes and investigate interactions between pollutants, soils, water quality and more. From there, you can help to address issues in the food sector, by combining environmental science with a major in agriculture, horticulture, geography or soil science.

To take your studies overseas, you can progress into our postgraduate offerings in environmental management, where you could undertake research all over the world.


Some of the topics taught in environmental science courses include:

  • New Zealand environmental issues
  • global environmental issues
  • ecology and conservation
  • environmental science field work.

Taught by the experts

Our researchers and teachers have an excellent reputation and are widely published internationally. You will be taught by experts in physical geography, soil biology, chemistry, freshwater management, ecological economics, environmental technology, and in sociology. Integrating these diverse fields is what an environmental scientist does - we’ll show you how.

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

  • have a passion for the environment
  • enjoy sciences, especially biology, and have an interest in geography
  • want to try to solve environmental problems.

Planning information

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.

The first year structure is designed to provide you with a broad knowledge and skill set which will equip you to go on to more advanced courses in the second and third years.

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.

Environmental Science 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.

100-level courses

Take these in any order:

  • 247113 Science and Sustainability for Science
  • 161111 Applied Statistics or 161122 Statistics
  • 124103 Biophysical Principles or 160101 Calculus or 160102 Algebra or 160104 Introductory Mathematics for Science or 160105 Methods of Mathematics
  • 196101 Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
  • 233105 Our Dynamic Earth.

Take these in the order shown:

  • 123103 Chemistry for Modern Sciences or 123104 Chemistry for Biological Systems
  • 189151 Principles of Soil Science.

Plus choose one 100 level elective course. This can be from a subject area other than Science.

200-level courses in the major

Take all four:

  • 121210 Environmental Issues
  • 121213 Land and Water Science
  • 121214 Landscape and Human Ecology
  • 233214 GIS and Spatial Statistics.
300-level courses in the major

Take all four:

  • 121313 Applied River Management
  • 188363 Applied Environmental Management
  • 121310 Environmental Solutions
  • 233314 Remote Sensing and Earth Observation.


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 (Environmental Science) 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 qualification will apply.

Some BSc minors that are particularly compatible with Environmental Science include those shown below. Timetabling will prioritise these combinations to minimise clashes.

  • Earth Science.
An Environmental Science minor (for students who are studying a different degree)

If you are not studying a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) and wish to complete an Environmental Science minor see the BSc regulations for the requirements.  

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 Science

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

Bachelor of Science core courses

Environmental Science courses

Compulsory courses

Course code: 121210 Environmental Issues 15 credits

A consideration of major environmental issues that affect, or may affect natural and built ecosystems into the future. Topics include climate change mitigation and adaptation, the ‘Ozone Hole’, land degradation and soil contamination, increasing water scarcity and pollution, loss of biodiversity and fisheries, sustainability of production and consumption systems, and the sustainability and liveability of major urban centres.

Restrictions: 121311

View full course details
Course code: 121213 Land and Water Science 15 credits

How river catchments work and how they are affected by human activity. The environmental effects of land and water management practices, including land use, irrigation, drainage and nutrient loss, on river channels, flows and water quality, framed within an understanding of catchment geomorphology and hydrological processes.

Prerequisites: (189151 OR 145111) AND (233105 OR 117153 OR 199103) Restrictions: 145222

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Course code: 121214 Landscape and Human Ecology 15 credits

A systems approach to understanding socio-ecological interactions at the landscape level. Content includes fundamental ecological principles, the quantification of ecological services and the importance of recognising the diverse social and cultural considerations that shape socio-ecological systems including Matauranga Māori.

Prerequisites: 196101

View full course details
Course code: 121310 Environmental Solutions 15 credits

A consideration of technology and innovation that can be used to measure, manage and mitigate environmental risks to soil and water. Theory and practical exercises based on New Zealand case studies equip students with numerical skills necessary to monitor and evaluate environmental quality. A student-led project allows in-depth study of a New Zealand environmental issue of particular relevance to community.

Prerequisites: 121210 Restrictions: 121211

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Course code: 121313 Applied River Management 15 credits

The course covers the principles and methodology of river resource management. It integrates ecology, hydrology, geomorphology and water quality to understand how river ecosystems function and how they may be managed to maximise societal and environmental benefit.

Prerequisites: 121213 or 145222

View full course details
Course code: 188363 Applied Environmental Management 15 credits

This course introduces key environmental management tools and techniques and how they can be applied. The course also examines some of the challenges that face environmental management and the best ways to address these with a particular focus on linking science, policy and practice for more effective environmental management.

View full course details
Course code: 233214 GIS and Spatial Statistics 15 credits

Introduction to handling and analysis of digital geospatial data. Operation of GIS software, including collection, processing and understanding of data, production of maps and geospatial projection systems. Integration of spatial statistical software with GIS. Introduction to appropriate spatial statistics techniques including kernel smoothing, kriging, point processes and spatially correlated areal data.

Prerequisites: 161111 or 161122 or 297101 Restrictions: 233251, 233301

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Course code: 233314 Remote Sensing and Earth Observation 15 credits

Principles and applications of Earth observation, remote sensing and spectroscopy in earth and environmental sciences. Spatial mapping and image classification of imagery from a variety of Earth observation and airborne sensors and other observations that contribute to monitoring terrestrial environments. Students will learn how to access, interpret and utilise such satellite and airborne imagery.

Prerequisites: 233214 Restrictions: 233301

View full course details

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.

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.

  • At least 16 credits in NCEA Level 2 Mathematics from the following list of standards: 91256, 91257, 91258, 91259, 91260, 91261, 91262, 91269.
  • At least 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Chemistry.
  • NCEA Level 3 Biology.
  • NCEA Level 3 Physics.

If it’s some time since you studied mathematics at school you can find out if you have the required background by taking this maths quiz.

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 qualification, 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.

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

There are a number of paths open to graduates with a BSc in Environmental Science who want to turn their interest in the environment into a career. Potential employers both in New Zealand and overseas include central government, regional, district and city councils, private sector consultants, and entrepreneurs. You may also find employment in one of these areas:

  • environmental planning and policy
  • coastal management
  • landscape management
  • soil and water
  • agriculture and forestry
  • geographic information systems
  • tourism and recreation
  • development
  • national parks
  • renewable energy
  • biodiversity management.

A pass with good grades can lead to postgraduate studies, then to a career in research or tertiary teaching.

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.

Accreditations and rankings

QS Ranking - Environmental Sciences

Massey University’s environmental sciences programme is ranked in the top 350 in the world by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

Learn more

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