Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology (Conservation Biology)

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Pathway to masters

A postgraduate diploma is the stepping stone to a research-based degree such as a masters

Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Technology parent structure

What is it like?

Massey University’s Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Conservation Biology) gives you the opportunity to join the pathway to in-depth research at a masters 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 Masters of Science (Conservation Biology). If so, credits you have gained through this qualification may be credited to the masters programme.

Work on real conservation issues

You will learn to address real conservation management problems. You will work in a small-group setting and engage with staff of conservation agencies who are working, on the ground, to save our endangered native species.

You will have the opportunity to take part in multiple field projects – you will experience the reality of conservation work in New Zealand, all before you graduate. This gives you an advantage with potential employers.

Or you may choose to work on primarily analytical projects as part of your study, such as modelling population dynamics or ecosystems. Or you can focus on lab projects, involving genetic analysis, physiology, or post-mortem work.

Take advantage of our globally-renowned expertise

Let our experts help you develop your own expertise. You will learn from highly-skilled internationally-recognised and active researchers in conservation and related areas, with a huge depth of knowledge and experience. Massey has strong research programmes in wildlife management, conservation genetics, and freshwater ecosystem management.

You will also be able to take advantage of Massey’s expertise across the sciences. We have a wide and relevant group of expertise within the university, from fundamental sciences like microbiology and biochemistry, to agriculture, ecology, zoology and environmental management.

This means no matter what your research interest you will have access to a broad range of experts to assist you develop your own research.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The workload of the postgraduate diploma replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. 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.

It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning and undertaking research.

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate science degree, or are near completion (one or two courses to go)
  • Are interested in postgraduate conservation study, but do not have a research background, or
  • Would like to undertake a predominantly taught postgraduate programme
Mithuna Sothieson
PGDip Science (Conservation Biology)
Graduated in 2009
Biodiversity Ranger, Department of Conservation

“I thoroughly enjoyed the broad range of ecological courses at Massey, and the opportunities in the PGDip to narrow my field of interest…”

I have always had an interest in wildlife and conservation and was keen to pursue a career that could incorporate these interests.

I decided to study at Massey as it seemed to have a good ecology group and it was a bonus being able to use the veterinary science facilities (post-mortem lab, wildlife ward etc...). The campus itself was scenic, compact and easy to navigate around.  

I found the ecology group at Massey well set up with a good range of facilities, and professors with a great set of skills and experiences.

I enjoyed assisting MSc and PhD students with fieldwork. It increased my experiences and knowledge in the field.

The PGDip was very practical and challenged my thinking. It prepared me for entering the conservation world by enhancing my skills in research, writing, and field biology - all skills that have proven to be imperative in my working life.

I currently work for the Department of Conservation as a Biodiversity Ranger. My role includes managing threatened species such as shorebirds, seabirds and reptiles through a mixture of outcome monitoring and pest control work. I also work supporting local community and iwi initiatives to help restore biodiversity and habitat through the provision of technical support and advice.

I am passionate about conservation and hope to develop my career in the area of greater technical support for species monitoring and management.


Massey’s postgraduate conservation biology programme is very relevant to industry – in fact it was developed in consultation with potential employers. It specifically targets the requirements of organisations such as New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, the Ministry for the Environment, Landcare Research, regional councils and environmental consulting firms. It is designed to provide training for biologists, veterinarians, resource managers, and environmental planners seeking careers in conservation.

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 Ministry of Education report Moving on up: What young people earn after their tertiary education found that in New Zealand:

  • Earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed.
  • Good careers are associated with better health, better wellbeing and more satisfying lives.

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

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

Professor Dianne Brunton

Dr Brunton’s major research interest is in the field of evolution and ecology of animal communication. She identified the New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura) and the North Island saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater) as two species that are outstanding meta-populations for testing cultural evolution theory. Her collaborative research on these species has been published in top-ranked international journals such as Ecology Letters, Evolution, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Behavioral Ecology and Animal Behaviour. She has also published 100+ research publications in peer reviewed journals on other ecology and conservation focused projects.

She collaborates internationally with researchers at UC Berkeley, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Australia National University and University of Melbourne and has ongoing industry partnerships in New Zealand with groups such as FRST, MSI, DOC and community conservation groups. Dr Brunton’s board and professional society memberships.

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