Master of Science (Geography)

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Become part of something bigger

Take part in a research-led physical geography programme and have an excellent, world-class learning experience.

Find out more about the Master of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

Massey’s Master of Sciences (Geography) will give you the knowledge and skills to understand and help solve some of the world’s most important environmental issues like flooding, coastal erosion, sea level change, landslide hazards and environmental change.

Broad range of equipment and facilities

You will have access to a wide range of techniques and equipment, making it easier to progress your research in a timely and comprehensive fashion. From ground survey equipment like a Trimble RTK differential GPS and S6 robotic total station and a ground penetrating radar to a range of coring apparatus e.g., lake/bog corers, percussion corer and vibracorer and Schmidt hammers for relative age dating of boulders we have the specialist equipment to help your research meet global standards.

Other equipment includes:

  • Fully equipped palynology laboratory
  • SEM, TEM and Confocal microscopes (via the Manawatu Microscopy and Imaging Centre)
  • Classifynder automated microscope system prototype (see
  • Laser particle size analyser
  • Sontek M9 river surveyor (ADCP flow meter)
  • Several electromagnetic flow meters
  • Chirp Sub-bottom sonar

Work readiness

Our strong relationship with industry and councils and the masters programmes research element make our graduates very attractive to potential employers such as environmental consultancies and regional councils.

Globally renowned expertise

Let our experts help you develop your own expertise.

Massey’s geography lecturers have an extensive range of experience and expertise. The ratio of staff to students is high. Your lecturers will be your mentors, working alongside you to fully engage you in the practical and theoretical aspects of advanced physical geography study, to prepare you for life in the workplace in a specialist sense or preparing you for research at a higher level.

Gain expertise in an area of your choice

The physical geography team at Massey research and have expertise in fluvial processes, coastal processes, slope processes, palynology, biogeography, palaeoecology and river solutions. During the course of your studies you can choose to further your knowledge and apply your learning on an exciting research project like:

  • Monitoring active landslides in glaciated valleys
  • Age estimation of ancient glaciated rockslides
  • Refining understanding of marine terrace development
  • Reconstructing the evolution of estuaries and coastal environments
  • Statistical analyses of earthquake-induced landslides
  • 3D soil mapping
  • Pollen-based vegetation and climate reconstructions
  • Applications of automated palynology systems
  • Mapping floodplain geomorphology
  • Flood series extension

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The Master of Science will push you to produce your best creative, strategic and theoretical ideas. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles. 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.

The postgraduate study experience

Some courses in the geography major are taught in block mode, which means you come onto campus for a period. This gives you the opportunity to come to Massey for a semester and spend valuable time with lecturers and fellow students in lectures, seminars, student-led presentations and seminars, lab work, field work day trips, small group discussions, and residential field work.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning, time management, setting goals and milestones and undertaking research.

Geography options

The Master of Science (Geography) may comprise a selection of courses from across both physical and human geography. However, normally students taking this programme will focus on physical geography and it is this experience that is described in these pages.

Students should also consult the Master of Arts (Geography) programme pages for a description of the equivalent experience in human geography.

A good fit if you:

  • Have a good undergraduate degree in geography
  • Enjoy and are committed to fieldwork and practical investigations
  • A willingness to take responsibility for learning.
  • Are interested in going on to further study, or wish to progress your career
Goldie Walker
Master of Science (Geography)
Geotechnics - Senior Geophysical Investigation Specialist

“My company utilises a number of pieces of equipment that we learnt to use at Massey, helping me to step into this role quite easily…”

I love knowing how things work. In particular, the natural processes we take for granted such as volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis, and earthquakes. I chose to study a master’s in geography as I was initially studying earth science as an undergraduate and realised that the geography courses on offer greatly complemented the earth science courses I was studying. The processes occurring on Earths' surface are directly influenced by the processes going on underneath our feet and understanding how these interact with each other helps shape a full picture of how our Earth works.

I am currently working at Geotechnics in Auckland as a Senior Geophysical Investigation Specialist and training to be a Project Manager for the Geophysics team, which I helped get off the ground. The field work component of my geography studies greatly set me up for everything I do here. This role is a continuous challenge and I am learning non-stop. We are even encouraged to study further and have access to a full library with all the important geotechnical journals.


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:

  • Young master’s graduates earn more than one and a half times more than the national median (five years after study)
  • Earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed
  • Five years after completion, the median earnings of young master’s graduates are 15% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

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

Dr Katherine Holt

Dr Katherine (Kat) Holt’s research interests focus on palynology (pollen analysis) and tephrochronology (using volcanic ash layers for dating). Dr Holt’s PhD was the first work to comprehensively document the Quaternary history of the Chatham Islands, a region which also continues to feature strongly in her research interests.

Her work on tephras in the Chathams has demonstrated that ash from even minor eruptions can travel very long distances, and that there is considerable potential for the New Zealand tephrochronological framework to be expanded. Dr Holt is also heavily involved in research and development towards the first holistic system for automatic identification of pollen, and she sits at the forefront of this newly emerging field of automated palynology.

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