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Bachelor of Science (Physiology)

Key facts

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

Want to know what makes you tick?

Physiology is a rapidly advancing and exciting subject area. Just how important is physiology? It’s the only biological science for which you can win a Nobel Prize!

Find out more about the Bachelor of Science parent structure.

What is it like?

Physiology explains how cells, tissues and organs work together to maintain normal body function. It provides the foundation on which we build our knowledge about life, so we can recognise problems and develop new treatments for disease.

Early on, you’ll get a broad understanding of the functions and integration of the major organ systems of the body. Later courses let you delve into specific topics for in-depth learning.

Leading in both human and animal physiology

Physiology provides the basis of modern medicine, connecting science and health. You can also learn how animals and their bodies function and interact with their environment.

Depending on your interests, you can combine physiology with other disciplines like human nutrition, sport and exercise, animal science, zoology, biochemistry or molecular biology for a multidisciplinary approach.


Ever wondered how your diet influences the skeleton, or how the stomach and intestines process food, or even how climate change impacts the survival ability of penguins? Our academics are at the forefront of research like this and use it in their teaching, so what you learn is relevant and engaging.

As a student you’ll also have the opportunity to tap into these types of research projects and gain experience for future employment. Research in physiology at Massey focuses on nutritional and gastrointestinal physiology, the musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive and endocrine systems, as well as animal welfare and the biology of native species.

Follow your interests

If you’re keen on human health, you can delve into cellular physiology and also take on a minor in an area such as biochemistry or human nutrition. Alternatively, if you’re keen on animals you can focus on animal physiology and pair this with a minor in zoology or courses in animal science or ecology.

You can choose to major in physiology or include physiology as a minor with another major, especially if it deals with advanced animal or human biology. If you meet the prerequisites, it may be possible to change from another major within the BSc, or even from a different programme, into the BSc (Physiology) major.

Lots of subject choices

One big advantage of studying physiology at Massey is that you can choose from a wide variety of minors or courses to complement your physiology major, such as:

  • agribusiness
  • agricultural science
  • animal science
  • business studies
  • biochemistry
  • chemistry
  • data science
  • earth science
  • ecology
  • ecology and sustainability
  • environmental science
  • exercise and sport
  • human nutrition
  • genetics
  • integrative biology
  • marine biology
  • mathematics
  • microbiology
  • plant science
  • psychology
  • statistics
  • zoology.


Some of the topics taught include:

  • applied physiology and animal welfare
  • cell physiology
  • comparative physiology
  • control of metabolism
  • human lifecycle physiology
  • nerves and the nervous system
  • physiological control systems
  • physiological strategies for survival
  • physiology of mammalian organ systems.

Transferable skills

You’ll learn about the biological processes important in living systems, and you’ll also master a wide range of transferable technical and scientific skills. The critical thinking, planning and analysis needed in science, and the communication skills involved in writing about and presenting science, are very highly valued in other fields.

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.

A good fit if you:

  • Like biology and chemistry
  • Are curious about how the body works
  • Want to work in human or animal health sciences
Sophia Holdsworth
Bachelor of Science (Physiology)

“Physiology is a broad degree with many possible routes which all have a focus on improving the health of humans and animals…”

I first discovered Physiology in high school, when my Science teacher inflated some sheep lungs in class. The workings of the body and the mind fascinated me. Naturally, Massey University seemed like the ideal place to study, considering the affordability of Palmerston North, and the great reputation Massey has for scientific degrees.

I started my studies enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Animal Science, which I later changed to Physiology minoring in Psychology, because of my fascination with the brain. This ended up being the best decision, as I am now studying a Master of Science in Physiology, with focus on neurophysiology and pathophysiology in newborn mammals.

My studies have taught me that you don’t need to be a veterinarian to help animals; Physiology is a broad degree with many possible routes which all have a focus on improving the health of humans and animals. The Physiology programme at Massey enabled me to understand the science behind the structure and function of different organs, even down to the molecular level.

The Bachelor of Science programme at Massey is very flexible, allowing its students to change majors and minors without hindering their studies, and enabling me to explore all the possible pathways I could take within my degree.

I’m hugely grateful for what Massey has provided to me and other students over the years, and for all the incredible work the staff puts into ensuring we excel in our chosen fields. It was a fantastic opportunity to be able to study under some intelligent and interesting people; some of Massey’s lecturers are world-leading scientists in their fields, with a remarkable number of years’ experience.


Physiology is key if you want to work in human or animal health sciences.

Wide variety of options

Can you picture yourself conducting vital research in universities, Crown Research Institutes or pharmaceutical or biotech companies? If you really want to go far, you could even be a research physiologist in outer space, discovering how the body adapts to zero gravity.

What about working in one of the world’s growth industries - healthcare? You can specialise in nutrition, toxicology, pharmacy, radiography, physiotherapy, nursing, or public and environmental health. How about teaching in schools or hospitals? Or you may fancy a career in the medical, veterinary or food industries, a job in medical writing, or in the active world of sport science, exercise and recreation.

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