Master of Conservation Biology


Programme Description

Human impact, loss of biodiversity and a growing awareness of environmental change make conservation biology more important every day.

Linking conservation, ecology, biodiversity and sustainability, the Master of Conservation Biology is a one-year, 180-point professional Master's. You'll get the scientific expertise you need to do conservation work in New Zealand and around the world.

Wellington is an international hotspot for biodiversity and studying with the School of Biological Sciences you'll learn from world leaders in conservation practice—internationally respected scientists whose work informs the management of New Zealand’s unique biota.

Using theoretical and field-based approaches in a range of terrestrial and marine environments, you’ll explore the processes of conservation biology. Examine internationally renowned examples of conservation best practice in action, and gain skills in experimental design, the collection, and analysis of data and the presentation of research results.

You'll graduate with the expertise to make a valuable contribution to the conservation of the natural environment.


If you are studying full time, you can expect a workload of 40–45 hours a week for much of the year. Part-time students doing two courses per trimester will need to do around 20–23 hours of work a week. Make sure you take this into account if you are working.

You can estimate your workload by adding up the number of points you'll be doing. One point is roughly equal to 10–12 hours work.

Field course

One of your core courses is held in the field, visiting key conservation sites in New Zealand.

BIOL 424 New Zealand Conservation Practice involves travel around the country to observe management practices and become familiar with the unique plants and animals of New Zealand.

How you'll study

You'll study three core courses and 90 points worth of approved courses of your choice.

If you're starting in January, you'll begin with the four-week field course, BIOL 424. The course sits outside normal trimester dates with the timing changing from year to year to allow for tide times. Usual timing for the start of the course in late January/early February and actual dates can be confirmed at least six months prior.

The July start of the programme includes the core course, BIOL 405 Biosecurity, which involves biosecurity management from both biological and legal perspectives.

While there is no thesis component to the MConBio, you can do small research projects through the elective BIOL 440. You'll need a supervisor for this course—talk to staff within the School of Biological Sciences about potential projects.

Study abroad

Broaden your horizons with the student exchange programme, Victoria Abroad. Study towards your Victoria University degree at one of 100 partner universities around the world. Talk to the programme manager if you're thinking about including an exchange in your programme of study.

Prime location

Studying in Wellington offers unparalleled access to the natural wealth of New Zealand. Private and public conservation sites close by creating opportunities for gaining research experience and learning conservation techniques.

Zealandia and Otari-Wilton's Bush are within the city boundaries and an ecological restoration programme is underway on Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour.

Two marine reserves are also close to Wellington city—Taputeranga on the south coast and Kapiti, an hour's drive north.

Advance your expertise with a PhD study

If you want to pursue an academic or research career, you can complete a PhD You’ll work under supervision to produce original research that makes a significant contribution to knowledge. Full-time candidates usually complete the degree within three to four years.

A PhD at Victoria will cost between $6,800 and $8,200 each year depending on your subject.

The Faculty of Graduate Research (FGR) will handle your application and support you throughout your PhD study.

Contact the Faculty of Science about available supervision before you apply.

Last updated Jun 2020

About the School

Get a world-class education as an international student at Victoria University of Wellington—New Zealand's globally-ranked capital city university. Victoria University of Wellington is located in Well ... Read More

Get a world-class education as an international student at Victoria University of Wellington—New Zealand's globally-ranked capital city university. Victoria University of Wellington is located in Wellington – New Zealand’s second largest city – in the geographic, political and cultural heart of the country. We’re number one in New Zealand for research quality. Read Less
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