School of Biological Sciences


There is a wide variety of jobs that you can get with a degree in Biological Sciences.


Structural Biology

Career prospects in Structural Biology

In the current competitive world, it is vitally important to chart out a long-term career plan and be realistic in balancing your career aspirations with your academic achievements. Apart from employment in academic institutions, there is growing demand for structural biologists in commercial enterprises.

In recent years it has made fundamental contributions in directing the development of numerous drugs to combat debilitating diseases, such as against HIV AIDS and influenza for example. Prominent drug companies both within New Zealand and abroad have invested heavily in these and there is therefore a growing need for structural biologists to oversee and direct such endeavours. These companies also often provide an environment where clinical trial and fundamental research go hand in hand, which can be very invigorating. In addition to the pharmaceutical companies, employment opportunities exist in Industries that focus on producing, for instance, more nutritious and healthy foods such as from plants, high-quality dairy products and enhanced agricultural output – all of which have considerable impact on the NZ economy.


Molecular Biology

Career prospects in Molecular Biology

Molecular biology originally described the application of physics to biological problems, such as X-ray diffraction for solving the structures of biological particles, fibres and crystalline macromolecules. At the same time, great advances were being made in the genetics of bacteria and viruses, which could be related to the emerging structures of virus particles, DNA and proteins. Nowadays, molecular biology includes a wide range of activities. At one end of the range, structure determination is increasingly focused on larger, more complex structures, such as ribosomes, or membranes. The possibilities for genetic studies have been greatly expanded by the availability of complete genome sequences and many detailed three-dimensional protein structures. The science of genomics has led to proteomics (study of the expressed genome) and more recently to metabolomics (the biochemical activities of the expressed genome).

Molecular biology is still primarily a research-based discipline, but it has diversified rapidly in recent years. “Blue-skies” research is now a relatively small part of the spectrum of possibilities; many basic research projects are directed towards solutions to medical, agricultural and environmental problems. There is more applied research, both in universities and government laboratories, and increasingly in biotechnology companies. Molecular biological techniques have become tools for many other fields, often beyond the traditional boundaries of biological science. DNA sequence information can be obtained quickly and economically, making it ideal for identification, comparison and classification of biological samples. Increasingly, medical diagnostic tests are based upon DNA analysis (PCR, nucleotide sequencing).

This has created opportunities in basic and applied research, in marketing and customer services for diagnostic kits, and in diagnostic laboratories.


Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour

Career prospects in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour

A degree in ecology, evolution or behaviour opens the door to a dynamic and highly satisfying career researching and understanding the natural world. Graduates are highly sought after in New Zealand and internationally. Local employers include government agencies ( for example, region councils) or statutory agencies such as the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry or Ministry of Fisheries. Other employers interested in our graduates include Crown Research Institutes such as Landcare Research and NIWA. Those students graduating with doctorates also pursue careers as university lecturers and researchers in New Zealand and overseas.

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Proteomics & Biomedicine

Career prospects in Proteomics & Biomedicine

Proteomics refers to the large scale study of proteins as it relates to biological processes and disease. In order to consider a career in this area, a strong grounding in the biological sciences is required for a molecular understanding of disease processes. Courses should cover biochemistry, protein structure and function, proteomic techniques, and disease mechanisms. An understanding of bioinformatics is also important in order to rationalise the vast amounts of proteomic data.

There are various step-off points for a career paths depending on your aspirations. An undergraduate degree is the minimum qualification required in order to work on a biomedical research project within an academic research team. If you want to pursue a career within academia then you will need to undertake more advanced study through a doctoral program. There are also exciting opportunities within the biotechnology industry in New Zealand and Internationally with companies that use proteomics to discover and develop new therapeutics for disease. Here, a knowledge of business, management, and entrepreneurship is an advantage. These skills are offered through the BTech (biotechnology) and Masters of Bioscience enterprise programs at The University of Auckland. There is a highly vibrant entrepreneurship culture within The University of Auckland through the student-led organizations SPARK and CHIASMA. These provide opportunities to interface with biotechnology companies and industry leaders and develop entrepreneurship through your study programme.



Career prospects in Microbiology

Apart from employment in academic institutions and Crown Research Institutes, there has traditionally been, and continues to be, a demand for microbiologists in a wide range of commercial enterprises including the food and beverage industry, agricultural and veterinary laboratories, environmental authorities and consultancies and medical laboratories. Academic and CRI salaries are often lower than those offered in industry but for those who feel driven primarily by research and teaching the work may be less routine and more rewarding. For an academic or research career, typically one or two post-doctoral appointments under the supervision of well-known researchers, resulting in publications in reputed international journals, is essential. For a career in commercial or industrial or environmental microbiology, opportunities exist in medical diagnostic laboratories, environmental authorities such as Councils and in food and beverage industries such as those manufacturing dairy products and wine, which have considerable impact on the NZ economy.


Career Development and Employment Services

Career Development and Employment Services can assist you with your career decision making. They can provide information and advice about graduate opportunities and job search throughout the course of your studies. Visit the service to discuss your career options, get your CV and application letters checked, attend a workshop, have a practice interview, or use their extensive resources.

Visit the Career Development and Employment Services website