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A postgraduate diploma is the stepping stone to a research-based degree such as a master's or PhD
Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology parent structure
Massey University’s Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Biochemistry) 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 (Biochemistry). If so, credits you have gained through this qualification may be credited to the master's programme.
It is an intensive, intellectually challenging programme where time management is critical and where you can expect to acquire many transferable skills, sought after by employers.
Biochemistry focuses on the structure and function of proteins, the intricacies of cellular metabolism and communication and information transfer from nucleic acids to improve our knowledge and understanding of biomedical science, biotechnology and biological chemistry.
Massey University is well supported with specialist equipment to carry out biochemistry research. In addition to a dedicated tissue culture facility, real-time PCR instruments, specialised fluorescence microscopes and plate readers, the Manawatu Microscopy Centre is housed within the Institute. Confocal, and scanning, transmission and epifluorescence microscopy services and expertise are therefore on site.
Genome sequencing services are also readily accessible with both the Massey Sequencing Service and a New Zealand Genome Limited laboratory housed on the university’s Manawatu campus. This service centre is equipped with ABI3730 and Illumina MiSeq instruments and associated expertise. A group of dedicated bioinformatics experts support this service. We house a full suite of protein purification, separation and analysis equipment, including DIGE imaging and access to mass spectrometers. There is also an X-ray diffraction laboratory and access to the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne.
There is a well-established community of fundamental scientists and students at Massey. We have a large active student group - the Fundamental Science Students Association (FUSSTA) - where we work together to share discoveries and research and provide peer support.
Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. This qualification 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.
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 and undertaking research. You need to be prepared to take responsibility for the direction of your research, always supported by experienced mentors.
“My supervisors taught me a great deal, not just science and lab skills, but also what it takes to be a good scientist. Without them I may not have stayed in science for as long as I have…”
I really enjoyed my undergraduate biochemistry degree at Massey. I was originally thinking about heading up to Auckland for postgraduate, but I decided to stay at Massey because I really liked my supervisors Kathryn Stowell and John Tweedie (who’s now retired).
I loved the fact that I had the opportunity to work in a great lab (full of fun and wonderful people) and with good supervisors. I also met some of my best friends during my time at Massey, and we still see each other regularly now.
One of the advantages of Massey is that it has much smaller classes than many other universities. That means you get more time to do lab work and you get much better access to lecturers. It is more personal, you really get to know your classmates and your teachers, and I think you actually learn more.
My MSc project was on the regulation of bovine ATP citrate lyase promoter. Normally ATP citrate lyase is important enzyme in the de novo fatty acid synthesis pathway (to convert fat from glucose). However in ruminants the fatty acid synthesis pathway is a little different since they don’t have access to free glucose. My project was to see if the expression of the ATP citrate lyase gene is decreased or is regulated differently.
In my PhD I moved onto structural biology, probing and characterising a new intramolecular covalent modification in proteins - the mechanism of the ester bond formation in the Cpe0147 protein.
I worked as a research technician for five years and did quite a bit of work around cancer drug research. I’m quite keen to move on to work for a biotech or pharmaceutical company to continue this line of research.
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. International chemistry and engineering publications have run surveys showing clearly that the more postgraduate study you complete, the higher your salary in the workforce.
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.
You will have a wide range of career opportunities and can expect these to lead to leadership and managerial roles. These could be in areas including pure and applied research, quality control, product development, and positions of responsibility in medical, forensic, or analytical laboratories.
You could also work in government departments in policy development and analysis. Jobs in these areas can lead to high-level careers in management and administration in science and health-related fields.
You will gain internationally-marketable skills that will provide opportunities for employment and careers across the globe.
Massey’s biochemistry staff are internationally-renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with internationally-recognised discipline specialists, for example:
Dr Rakonjac is a molecular biologist, biochemist, biotechnologist and microbiologist specialising in the biology of bacterial viruses (bacteriophages or phages) and their biotechnology applications in medicine and agriculture.
She is the co-inventor of new tools for phage display technology and the gene for the Serum Opacity Factor of Streptococcus pyogenes and its use in detection of important human serum health indicators: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL or "good cholesterol") and fibronectin. Dr Rakonjac is widely published in academic journals and other resources such as reference books and encyclopediae.
Current projects include: i) development of new biological nanorods for applications in high-sensitivity home-use diagnostics and as vaccine carriers; ii) antibacterials directed against pathogens that cause food poisoning and urinary tract infections; iii) rumen microbial ecology, including mitigation of greenhouse gases (extensive collaboration with AgResearch).
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