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Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Conservation Biology)

Key facts

  • Available at Auckland
  • Available at Manawatū
  • Not all listed subject course options are on offer every year
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Pathway to master's

A postgraduate diploma is the stepping stone to a research-based degree such as a masters

Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology parent structure.

What is it like?

Massey University’s Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Conservation Biology) gives you the opportunity to join the pathway to in-depth research at a master's level. The programme consists of 90 credits of taught programmes and 30 credits of research.

The programme gives you the opportunity to show your analytical thinking and high-level research capability. If you complete the programme at a satisfactory level you may be able to proceed to the Master of Science (Conservation Biology). If so, credits you have gained through this qualification may be credited to the master's programme.

Work on real conservation issues

You will learn to address real conservation management problems. You will work in a small-group setting and engage with staff of conservation agencies who are working, on the ground, to save our endangered native species.

You will have the opportunity to take part in multiple field projects – you will experience the reality of conservation work in New Zealand, all before you graduate. This gives you an advantage with potential employers.

Or you may choose to work on primarily analytical projects as part of your study, such as modelling population dynamics or ecosystems. Or you can focus on lab projects, involving genetic analysis, physiology, or post-mortem work.

Take advantage of our globally renowned expertise

Let our experts help you develop your own expertise. You will learn from highly-skilled internationally-recognised and active researchers in conservation and related areas, with a huge depth of knowledge and experience. Massey has strong research programmes in wildlife management, conservation genetics, and freshwater ecosystem management.

You will also be able to take advantage of Massey’s expertise across the sciences. We have a wide and relevant group of expertise within the university, from fundamental sciences like microbiology and biochemistry, to agriculture, ecology, zoology and environmental management.

This means no matter what your research interest you will have access to a broad range of experts to assist you develop your own research.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The workload of the postgraduate diploma replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. Our experts are there to guide but if you have come from undergraduate study, you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study.

It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning and undertaking research.

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate science degree, or are near completion (one or two courses to go)
  • Are interested in postgraduate conservation-related study, but do not have a research background, or
  • Would like to undertake a predominantly taught postgraduate programme
Emily Hotham
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Conservation Biology)
Graduate Ecologist at Boffa Miskell Ltd

“I loved what I learned in my undergraduate courses and wanted to expand on this knowledge. The papers offered in the postgraduate conservation biology degree were very stimulating and relevant, which further fuelled my passion in conservation…”

I came to Massey because the university is renowned for its animal science and has some of the world’s top researchers and industry leaders in conservation and biology. The degree is also recognised throughout the world, allowing me to have more opportunity of employment.

Studying the PGDip allowed me to develop my field skills and writing techniques to a higher level than an Undergraduate course permits. This in turn prepared me for the work force as I understood the current literature and survey methodology.

I loved the structure of the course, with tutorials replacing lectures. This allowed for discussion among the class and catered for students who learn better using different teaching techniques and a more hands-on approach. This also strengthens your ability to formulate ideas and communicate it to various audiences, which is extremely important in the workforce.

Studying the PGDip allowed me to development my field skills and writing techniques to a higher level, prepared me for the work force and strengthened my ability to formulate ideas and communicate it to various audiences.

I am now a Graduate Ecologist at Boffa Miskell Ltd and am working towards my master’s in conservation biology at Massey University.


Massey’s postgraduate conservation biology programme is very relevant to industry – in fact it was developed in consultation with potential employers. It specifically targets the requirements of organisations such as New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, the Ministry for the Environment, Landcare Research, regional councils and environmental consulting firms. It is designed to provide training for biologists, veterinarians, resource managers, and environmental planners seeking careers in conservation.

Sought after by employers

International trends are for employers to reward postgraduate study well, especially in larger enterprises. The skills you learn are increasingly recognised as setting you apart from other potential employees.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed.

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

Massey’s conservation and biology staff are internationally-renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with recognised specialists, for example:

Dr Luis Ortiz Catedral

Luis’ research encompasses approaches to document, measure and protect island biodiversity. He uses island vertebrates (snakes, iguanas, parrots) as models to understand changes in population sizes and their relationships to extinction risk. His collaboration partners include research and wildlife partners from the Galapagos National Park (Ecuador), Norfolk Island National Park (Australia), and the Division of Fish and Wildlife (Norther Mariana Islands).

Professor Brett Gartrell

Professor Gartrell’s research primarily supports the conservation of New Zealand’s biodiversity, with an emphasis on wildlife health and ecotoxicology. He is the Clinical Director of Massey University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Dr Gartrell has authored over 70 peer reviewed scientific courses, eight book chapters in international scientific texts and over 100 conference abstracts/presentations. He has supervised nine PhD students and 22 master’s students. In 2010, Brett was awarded the Barry Munday Recognition Award from the Wildlife Disease Association (Australasian Section) in recognition of significant contribution to wildlife health in the preceding five years.

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