Biotechnology - Course Advice - Biological Sciences - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Studying Biotechnology at Canterbury

leaf diseaseBiotechnology is of national and international importance. It can be defined as fundamental research contributing knowledge about biochemical, molecular, ecological and evolutionary processes; research underpinning biodiversity and biosecurity management in New Zealand; and research directed towards technology development with dual economic and environmental outcomes.

Consequently, biotechnology research has key roles to play in helping us characterise New Zealand¹s indigenous genetic heritage through biosystematics, to protect New Zealand's indigenous genetic heritage through the provision of tools to identify biosecurity threats, and, through research, to help counter the environmental impacts of farming in areas such as agricultural methane emissions and nitrogen fixers in pastures.

Biotechnology goes beyond genetic modification and includes a range of laboratory based tissue culture and breeding techniques such as the use of somatic hybridisation.

Career paths

Employment opportunities for graduates with good biotechnology training are exceptionally attractive overseas, since biotechnology is widely considered to be the industrial growth area of this century.


  • BSc (Hons) - Students complete a fourth year of study comprising four 400-level papers and a research project.
  • PGDipSc - Students complete a fourth year of study comprising four 400-level papers.
  • MSc - Students complete a fourth year of study comprising four 400-level papers (part I), followed by a one year research project (part II), written up as a thesis.
  • PhD - Students complete a 3 year research project written up as a thesis. Entry is after successful completion of either BSc(Hons) or an MSc.

Planning Your Degree

Below is a guide to help you select courses that will give you a well rounded degree in biosecurity.

Full regulations for endorsements can be found at:

Year 1


  • BIOL 111 Cellular Biology & Biochemistry
  • BIOL 112 Ecology, Evolution & Conservation
  • BIOL 113 Diversity of Life
  • BCHM 112 Structure and Reactivity in Chemistry and Biochemistry [1] (aka CHEM 112)
  • STAT 101 Statistics 1


  • MATH101 Methods of Mathematics
  • LAWS 101 The Legal System: Legal Method and Institutions
  • LAWS 110 Legal Foundations, Research and Writing
  • SCIM 101 Science, Maori and Indigenous Knowledge
  • ENGR 101 Foundations of Engineering
  • CHEM 111 Chemical Principles and Processes [1]

Year 2


Complementary [2]

  • BIOL 215 Plant Diversity & Systematic
  • BIOL 250 Principles of Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 273 New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity
  • BCHM 222 Biochemistry B- Metabolism; the reactions of molecules in cells
  • BCHM 281 Practical Biochemistry

Year 3


  • BIOL 313 Advanced Molecular and Industrial Microbiology
  • BIOL 352 Plant Development and Biotechnology
  • BIOL 333 Molecular Genetics

and a minimum of 30 points from the following:

Complementary [2]

[1] If you have fewer than 14 credits of NCEA level 3 chemistry take CHEM 114 before starting BCHM/CHEM 112.
[2] There are two pathways within the endorsement, either environmental biotechnology or plant biotechnology. See the regulations to select appropriate courses.
[3] BIOL309 is essential for postgraduate biology.