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

Studying Genetics at Canterbury

chemical modelGenetics is the science of heredity. It has a history of less than 150 years, yet the most significant discovery, the double helix, celebrated its 50th birthday in 2003.

The completion of the human genome project, followed by a proliferation of genome projects on endemic and endangered species has promised to challenge the creativity of future scientists.

Genetics will provide a platform for the development of new drugs to combat diseases, methodology for the conservation of endangered species and understanding evolutionary history. Furthermore, it will help us to understand who we are and what we are, enhance our biosecurity and even to catch criminals.

Genetics is a rapidly advancing field that creates challenges and opportunities for society. Our graduates and staff also work in civil society organisations and for government agencies providing expertise to maximise the benefits of genetic technologies while minimising risk.

Career paths

Geneticists have a wide range of possible career options. They are employed by biotechnology companies and research institutes (e.g. AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Landcare Research) to undertake genetic typing and to develop new strains of organisms.

They may also work for pharmaceutical companies developing approaches to disease control, and for health research organisations and hospitals using genetics to identify disease-causing organisms as well as the genetic basis for human diseases.


  • 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 genetics.

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


  • MATH 101 Methods of Mathematics [2]
  • SCIM 101 Science, Maori and Indigenous Knowledge

Year 2



  • BCHM 222 Biochemistry B - Metabolism; the reactions of molecules in cells
  • BCHM 281 Practical Biochemistry
  • BIOL 215 Plant Diversity & Systematics
  • BIOL 253 Cell Biology 1

Year 3



  • BIOL 309 Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists [3]
  • BIOL 313 Advanced Molecular and Industrial Microbiology
  • BIOL 331 Biochemistry 3 (aka BCHM 301)
  • BIOL 351 Cell Biology 2
  • BIOL 352 Plant Development and Biotechnology
  • BIOL 371 Evolutionary Ecology
  • BCHM 381 Biochemical Techniques

[1] If you have fewer than 14 credits of NCEA level 3 chemistry take CHEM 114 before starting BCHM/CHEM 112.
[2] MATH101 is strongly recommended unless you have good NCEA level 3 maths credits.
[3] BIOL309 is essential for postgraduate biology.