Zoology – Bachelor of Science

Let your love of animals take you into a field that is in high demand throughout New Zealand. With Massey's Bachelor of Science (Zoology) you have the chance to learn everything there is to know about animals.

Where you can study

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 Zoology for your Bachelor of Science at Massey

Zoology is the animal science of the natural world. It examines animals on a variety of scales, from biological knowledge at the molecular level to animals as components of systems. It also includes the study of animal behaviour.

The latest thinking

As one of the only universities in New Zealand to offer a specialised major in zoology, our programme is unique.

You’ll learn about land-based animals and environments. You will also develop a strong foundation including the latest thinking in genetic and physiological processes, animal development, anatomy and behaviour. You’ll explore freshwater and marine systems, and our wide range of speciality fields including conservation of biodiversity.

In high demand

From mapping animal migrations to driving conservational change in foreign countries, Massey’s zoology graduates are in high demand all over the world. They have worked in places like Samoa, South Africa, the Netherlands and the United States. You’ll graduate ready to join them, and to take the best of your knowledge to the rest of the world.

World-leading lecturers

At Massey, our lecturers are passionate about what they do. They have examined bird migration pathways from New Zealand to Alaska and the USA. They have investigated species interactions in the alpine environment and unlocked knowledge about morphology through examining fossils and lineages in rocks. They bring this knowledge and love for what they do into their teaching to help you uncover what truly inspires you.

What will you study?

A Zoology major offers you a wide range of specialisations in interest areas, as well as in mainstream zoology. The core Zoology qualification looks at animals on a variety of scales.

You will gain skills in a broad range of related sciences including ecology, conservation diversity and evolution.

This major is not just about land-based animals and environments; you will also explore freshwater and marine systems.

An exciting and practical subject

The most exciting advances in biological knowledge are probably at the molecular level, which we cover in the second year. The level of animals as components of systems is covered in the third year.

A key speciality in your study will be the fascinating and practical field of conservation of biodiversity. This looks at both vertebrates (birds, predators) and invertebrates, and at their impact on New Zealand indigenous plants and animals. Another interesting area is the study of animal behaviour. This speciality also has an applied side.

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

  • are passionate about the natural world and animals
  • want to understand and know everything about animals.

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.

Zoology 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 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
  • 123103 Chemistry for Modern Sciences or 123104 Chemistry for Biological Systems
  • 162101 Cell Biology
  • 196101 Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour
  • 199103 Animals and the Environment.

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

Students must pass at least 90 credits from the Bachelor of Science Schedule A, including any compulsory courses, in their first 120 credits of study towards the Bachelor of Science.

200-level courses in the major

Take all four:

  • 196217 Evolutionary Biology
  • 199212 Vertebrate Zoology
  • 199211 Invertebrate Zoology
  • 199203 Evolutionary Principles of Animal Behaviour.
300-level courses in the major

Take all four:


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 (Zoology) 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 Zoology include those shown below. Timetabling will prioritise these combinations to minimise clashes.

  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Physiology (course: 214101 or 117155).
A Zoology minor (for students who are studying a different degree)

If you wish to complete a Zoology minor see the BSc regulations for 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

Zoology courses

200-level courses

Compulsory courses

Choose 45 credits from
Course code: 196217 Evolutionary Biology 15 credits

Understanding the processes and patterns of evolution is central to developing insight into questions of how and why in biology. This course introduces students to the core concepts in evolution, including the geological, biological, phylogenetic and rational evidence for evolution by common descent. Core concepts - including the origins of genetic and phenotypic variation, and micro and macro-evolutionary processes and patterns - will be reinforced and explored in the lab via computer-based simulations and real evolution experiments with digital organisms. Students will be introduced to current theories of human evolution and topics of special interest including the evolution of cooperation and conflict; game theory; the origin of sex; and microbial experimental evolution. Theory will be illustrated, where appropriate, with examples from New Zealand’s native species.

Prerequisites: 162101 and (123103 or 123104) Restrictions: 196207

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Course code: 199211 Invertebrate Zoology 15 credits

A largely marine-based course that introduces the spectacular diversity amongst invertebrates. An appreciation of the major phyla is gained through learning about their diversity, anatomy, feeding, ecology and reproduction. Practical work focuses on identifying invertebrates, their morphology, and how they function.

Prerequisites: One of 196101, 199101 or 199103 Restrictions: 199214

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Course code: 199212 Vertebrate Zoology 15 credits

An exploration of the diversity and origins of fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, and other chordate animals. Form, function and evolutionary drivers of body systems in vertebrate animals are examined, especially in practical work. Evidence for evolution is emphasised in comparative anatomy laboratories. Applications of vertebrate zoology knowledge for wildlife conservation and natural history research are highlighted.

Prerequisites: 196101 and (199101 or 199103)

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Choose 15 credits from
Course code: 196225 Introductory Marine Biology 15 credits

An introduction to Marine Biology - the scientific study of life in the sea. First principles of marine biology from history of Marine Biology to use of the sea as a fundamental resource. Studying the ocean as a habitat and examining the form and function of marine taxa within marine biomes, students will discover how the biology, behaviour and ecology of organisms differ between contrasting marine environments.

Prerequisites: 196101 and (199101 or 199103)

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Course code: 199203 Evolutionary Principles of Animal Behaviour 15 credits

This course explores how genetics, the environment, and humans shape the evolution of animal behaviour and inter- and intraspecific interactions. Practice sessions develop skills on the description, quantification, comparison and statistical analysis of animal behaviour using a variety of animals (vertebrate and invertebrate, wild and domestic). The use of scientific writing to communicate research findings is emphasised.

Prerequisites: One of (199103, 199101 or 196101) Restrictions: 199204, 117255

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300-level courses

Compulsory courses

Choose 45 credits from
Course code: 199312 Behavioural Ecology 15 credits

An examination of the behavioural adaptations of animals to their environment with particular emphasis on the evolution of the behaviour. Topics include foraging, reproduction, parental care, sociality, communication, and the importance of integrating behavioural ecology into conservation and co-management. The practical work includes project work, some of which takes place outside scheduled lab hours.

Prerequisites: One of 199203, 199204, 196207 or 196217 Restrictions: 196307

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Course code: 199313 Environmental Physiology 15 credits

The physiological mechanisms that enable invertebrate and vertebrate animals to live in changing environments.

Prerequisites: 194241 or 194242 or 199212 Restrictions: 194345

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Course code: 199330 Ornithology 15 credits

This course examines the diversity of birds through consideration of their evolution, taxonomy, morphology and behaviour. The recognition of New Zealand birds by sight and sound is developed through tutorials. Practical work in this course focuses on research techniques employed in studies of anatomy, wing moult, plumage colouration and vocalisations.

Prerequisites: One of 196201, 199206, 199212 or 194245

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Choose 15 credits from
Course code: 196327 Marine Mammalogy 15 credits

This course examines the zoogeography of marine mammals and the morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations which have enabled this diverse group to successfully colonise all of the world’s oceans and some freshwater systems. An understanding of the underlying ecological principles not only provides interesting insights into marine mammal biology but also yields consequences for marine mammal conservation and management.

Prerequisites: 199101 or 199103

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Course code: 199310 Entomology 15 credits

Insect diversity, anatomy, physiology, behaviour, plant-insect relationships, biosecurity, and integrated pest management in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Insect identification and curation skills are taught in the laboratories. An insect collection is required.

Prerequisites: 196201 or 199206 or 199211 or 283201 or 285201

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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. 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 14 credits in NCEA Level 3 Biology.

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?

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:

This course is available in the summer semester and will count towards credits in your degree.

If you won’t have reached University Entrance before the summer semester begins, you may be able to apply through Discretionary Entrance.

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

From mapping trans-hemispheric animal migrations to driving conservational change in foreign countries, Massey’s Zoology graduates are in high demand all over the world working in places like Samoa, South Africa, the Netherlands and United States. You’ll graduate ready to join them and take the best of your knowledge to the rest of the world.

Massey Bachelor of Science (Zoology) graduates are employed widely. You could contribute your skills to central and regional government organisations, conservation groups, teaching, private consultancy firms, or through the media (for instance making television documentaries). Places of work include:

  • Department of Conservation
  • regional councils
  • Crown Research Institutes
  • Ministry of Primary Industries
  • biosecurity in New Zealand
  • Ministry for the Environment
  • Environmental Risk Management Authority
  • Fish & Game New Zealand
  • SCION (formerly Forest Research Institute)
  • private environmental consultancy firms
  • private conservation initiatives
  • school teachers
  • News media including magazines, newspapers, websites, radio, television and documentary making.

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.

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