New information following the change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Bachelor of Science (Molecular and Cellular Biology)

Key facts

  • Available at Auckland
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Understand the big questions of life

Become part of the spectacular advances being made in medicine, agriculture, and environmental science through modern molecular, cellular, and genomic analyses.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

The Bachelor of Science (Molecular and Cellular Biology) will teach you how an understanding of DNA, proteins and cells helps us understand the big questions of life. Why do diseases or disorders develop and how can we treat them? Where did we come from? How are microbes influencing our health?

This can in turn help create a better world – with better medicines, more efficient agriculture and better protection from disease for humans and our environment.

If you are interested in a rapidly changing field that is at the leading edge of science this is the programme for you.

Join science that is changing the world

Through your study you will learn how tremendous advances in molecular techniques and DNA sequencing are changing the face of medicine, agriculture, ecology and wildlife conservation. You will learn about how organisms are related and how evolution works at a molecular level.

Global relevance

Globally, molecular and cellular biology is a highly relevant area of study. It is a discipline that unifies many others, from biochemistry to computer science and from law-making to medicine and food production.

Using cutting-edge technologies

The explosion of information concerning the dynamic nature of our world comes from very recent and dramatic changes in DNA sequencing and new technologies in molecular biology. These discoveries are changing our understanding of the world around us and what we know about who we are as humans.  For example:

  • Genetic testing of skeletal remains in the South Island tells us some of the earliest New Zealand pioneers were from many different families
  • Analyses of ‘ancient DNA’ isolated from hominins such as Neanderthals and extinct animals like moa give us insights into species that have ceased to exist
  • Analysis of DNA provides the cornerstone for our understanding of the living world

At Massey University you will have the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge technologies. For example, current students are sequencing the genomes of an entire plant or animal, learning to analyse large biological datasets using state-of-the-art computational tools, as well as actively participating in ongoing research with Massey researchers.

A relevant area of study

Advances in DNA sequencing are helping us to understand why certain diseases are prevalent and why genetic mutations can be ‘good’ in some situations and ‘bad’ in others.

For example, the ‘lactase persistence’ genetic mutation enables many adults to consume dairy products. The mutation is thought to have spread multiple times in different human populations with the rise of dairy farming. This is a positive, if not for the small percentage have remained ‘lactose-intolerant’.

Learn about your own DNA!

We are just beginning to understand which microbes inhabit our bodies and the environment, and the roles they play in health and disease. We are gaining new insights into the underlying genetic causes of antibiotic resistance, and exploring new ways to fight harmful bacteria.

During practical labs in the Molecular and Cellular Biology major, you will have the opportunity to test your own DNA for a specific mutation such as the lactase persistence mutation.

Join world-leading researchers

The emergence of new pathogens that affect water quality, our agricultural systems, our health, and the health of our forests and wildlife is likely. You will be taught by Massey researchers who are actively researching areas like the genetics of harmful viruses and bacteria and the biological systems they invade. They are working to understand both the emergence of novel pathogens and the resilience of our natural and farmed ecosystems.

We are still far from understanding how genes make us who we are and how it can go wrong. Researchers at Massey use model organisms to decipher at the molecular level the function of gene products – the proteins – and the effect of mutations, as well as use computer modelling to predict how proteins function. This contributes to the understanding of how the human body works, why diseases or disorders may develop, and how they could be treated.

During your study you will explore principles of evolution and how small changes can affect whole ecosystems.

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.


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A good fit if you:

  • Are interested in the natural world
  • Loved biology at school
  • Are interested in genes, genomes and genetics
Anežka Hoskin
Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahu
Bachelor of Science in Genetics, with a minor in Psychology
Graduated in 2018
Master of Science - Otago University

“Massey provided me with a very strong foundation in genetics and introductory research skills that allowed me to hit the ground running…”

My initial interest in genetics was sparked when I discovered it could explain why my siblings and I look so different, even though we are closely related. I enjoy the field of genetics because of its complexity and love that while there have been amazing medical advancements in this area of study, there is still so much to be discovered.

Massey was the only place in Auckland that I could study genetics during undergrad and the campus is located in a great spot with free parking and an impressive library. Because the classes were small at Massey, it made the student experience more personable and there were many opportunities for one on one time with lecturers. Your degree will help you choose which path to take in your career, but the people you know will help unlock the doors along the way.

I am currently studying toward my Masters of Science at Otago University, investigating the genetics of metabolic conditions like gout, diabetes and obesity in Māori and Pacific Island population in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I find it incredibly rewarding working with my iwi and breaking down barriers in health care for Māori and Pacifika peoples. My goal is to make a significant impact on the health of Maori and Pacifika people in New Zealand.


Graduates in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Massey University are prepared for wide range of positions both in New Zealand and overseas, such as:  

  • Biotechnology industries  
  • Laboratory and clinical research positions
  • Molecular diagnostics  
  • Scientific sales  
  • Plant and animal breeding  
  • Government regulatory agencies  
  • Secondary and tertiary teaching  
  • Genetic counselling
  • Scientific journalism
  • Conservation and wildlife genetics
  • Patent work

Contact us Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey