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University of Otago
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Master of Science (MSc) in Chemistry

This course is available


Level of Study

Master's Degree


1 year

Next start date

Expected Feb 2023


University of Otago


The Master of Science (MSc) is a two-year degree which encompasses both coursework and research. The first year involves mainly coursework and preliminary research preparation. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to existing fields of research, or to begin to develop new areas.

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry is the science of matter; it’s so fundamental it’s been called the central science. Studying Chemistry will help you develop an understanding of how the universe works. You’ll learn how to synthesise new chemicals that could have a profound effect on people’s lives. You could assist with the discovery of new drugs, agrichemicals and sources of energy, and gain a highly transportable and internationally recognised qualification in Chemistry. Studying Chemistry at Otago means you’ll acquire problem-solving skills within a chemical framework.

Career opportunities

Careers involving chemistry are hugely varied and there’s been a shortage of chemistry graduates in New Zealand in recent years.

Qualified chemists work in industries involving chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, food, textiles and timber. These positions include areas such as research and development, quality control, marketing, sales or management. Chemists also play leading roles in agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, water quality control, and in chemical, biochemical or medical research units. They are also sought after in central and local government agencies, to work on projects such as pollution monitoring, water purification and forensic work solving criminal cases.

Recent changes in environmental and occupational health and safety legislation have also resulted in jobs for chemistry graduates, both in the public sector and industry. Chemistry graduates are in continual demand for commerce-related positions, because employers recognise that people with a background in chemistry have been well trained to handle information and deal with complex concepts. These are qualities relevant throughout the workforce, in areas as diverse as finance, law, politics and sales. And there is ongoing demand for secondary science and chemistry teachers throughout New Zealand.

Duration of the Programme

A candidate achieving the degree by papers and a thesis shall normally follow a programme for the equivalent of not less than two years of full-time study and not more than three years of full-time study, and a candidate achieving the degree by thesis alone shall normally follow a programme of study for the equivalent of not less than one year of full-time study and not more than two years of full-time study. Exceptions shall be permitted only with the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences).

Entry criteria

Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences).

Every applicant must either

  • be a graduate with an average grade of at least B for the appropriate 300-level papers, or
  • have alternative qualifications or experience acceptable to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences).

An applicant seeking admission to the thesis-only option of the programme (see regulation 2(c) below) on the basis of the degree of Bachelor of Science with Honours or the Postgraduate Diploma in Science or equivalent must have achieved a grade of at least B+ for the research report, thesis preparation, or dissertation requirement of the qualification concerned.

In considering an applicant's qualifications, regard will be had to the detail of the course of study followed to gain the qualification, as well as the applicant's performance in the programme.

English language requirements

  • IELTS Academic - Score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0). IELTS Online is also accepted.
  • Internet-based TOEFL - Score of 90 with a minimum writing score of 21
  • Paper-based TOEFL - score of 587 (TWE 4.5)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) & Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) - Minimum of 176
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic - Overall score of 58 with no communicative skills score below 50.
  • LanguageCert - International ESOL: C1 Expert (LRWS) with a high pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill OR C2 Mastery (LRWS) with a pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill
  • NZCEL - NZCEL 5 Academic endorsement
  • ELA pathway programmes - Successful completion of the English Pathway for Postgraduate Studies (EPPS) with a B Grade

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