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Master of Science in Antarctic Studies

This course is available


Level of Study

Master's Degree


1 year

Next start date

Expected Feb 2024


University of Canterbury


The Master of Science usually consists of two parts: coursework and a thesis allowing for students to investigate areas of interest to them and conduct independent and original research. The MSc may be awarded with Distinction, Merit or Honours.

Part I of the MSc consists of coursework, while Part II consists of a thesis or dissertation. Coursework must be satisfactorily completed in Part I before the student can proceed to Part II. The requirements vary depending on your choice of subject, as some subjects require only Part II.

  • Part I and Part II must be completed in 2 years full-time
  • Part I must be completed full-time in 1 year.
  • Part II is completed full-time in 1–2 years.

Of all places in the world, none holds the fascination and awe of Antarctica. Not only is Antarctica the highest, coldest, and most isolated continent, but it is so vast it affects the world's climate and ocean currents. If the ice sheets were to melt, as is currently predicted in many climate models, the sea would rise up to 70 metres above current levels. The Antarctic and surrounding Southern Ocean support a unique and complex system of life that survives in an environment at the extremes.

Antarctic Studies courses are coordinated by Gateway Antarctica, the Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research at University of Canterbury. Gateway Antarctica plays a leading role in the quest for knowledge in a diverse range of national and international Antarctic research projects, in areas including engineering in extreme environments; Antarctica as driver of, and responder to, climate change; connections between Antarctica and Aotearoa New Zealand; and human influences in/on Antarctica.

Career opportunities

An in-depth knowledge of Antarctic issues can form a useful part of many careers in science, politics, tourism, education, and law. There are a large number of people who visit the Antarctic every year, many of whom are scientists specialising in areas such as geology, glaciology, biology, astronomy, and environmental management.

To make their day-to-day operations run smoothly, a range of staff are employed by national Antarctic programmes – from engineers to plant technicians, finance personnel to communication managers.

Having a degree and some background knowledge in Antarctic Studies will give you a greater opportunity to visit and work in Antarctica. It provides you with information on global systems that is becoming fundamentally important in many non-Antarctic jobs such as science technicians, IT specialists, and law or policymakers. The important role the polar regions play as drivers of the world's climate will be a major consideration in many careers in the coming years.

Start date: Monthly by arrangement with supervisor

Intake: First day of the month

Entry criteria

Candidates must have completed one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Science with Honours
  • Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology with Honours
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Science
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering Geology
  • or any bachelor's degree and a qualifying programme.

Students who have qualified for a Bachelor of Science with Honours or Postgraduate Diploma in Science can complete the MSc by Part II only (thesis-only) in their subject.

Applicants must also satisfy our English language entry requirements:

  • IELTS (Academic): Minimum overall score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • TOEFL (IBT): Minimum overall score of 90, with a minimum score of 19 in Reading, Listening and Writing.
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English - Academic): Overall score of 58 and no communicative skills score below 50.

Application deadline: At least 6 months before the planned start date.

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