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University of Otago
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Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Pharmacology

This course is available


Level of Study

Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma


1 year

Next start date

Expected Feb 2025


University of Otago


The Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) is a one-year programme which builds on an undergraduate science degree. The diploma encompasses both papers and a research topic, and can be taken full-time. It provides possible to the Master of Science (MSc) degree by thesis only.

Why study Pharmacology and Toxicology?

Most people are interested in pharmacology because drugs occupy such a prominent place in everyday life. Constant progress in medicine involves the design of new drugs that can cure cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders and other medical conditions.

Pharmacology incorporates and applies a variety of biological sciences, such as biochemistry, chemistry, physiology, microbiology and genetics. Unlike pharmacy, which is about the preparation and dispensing of drugs, pharmacology is the science behind how drugs produce their effects on the body and what the body does to the drugs. Pharmacology also plays a key role in developing drugs of the future.

Toxicology at Otago examines the harmful effects of chemicals on the human body, as well as understanding the impact of chemicals on the environment and in our food supply.

A good knowledge of pharmacology and toxicology is also an important part of the training of medical doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurses and physiotherapists. Other scientists often find pharmacology useful in their own specialisation. For example, physiologists, biochemists, zoologists and psychologists may use drugs to understand the biological system or disease they are studying.

Research at Otago

All our teaching staff are engaged in cutting-edge Pharmacology and Toxicology research, seeking to develop new drugs and address toxicological problems.

Areas of particular expertise include:

Cancer drug development and treatment


Cardiovascular health and cardioprotection

Environmental toxicology

Human toxicology

Inflammation and wound healing

Neuropharmacology and auditory pharmacology

Entry criteria

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

Every applicant shall have fulfilled one of the following condition

  • have been admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Science majoring in the subject or subjects of study proposed
  • have been admitted with the status of one who is entitled to proceed to the diploma
  • have a qualification acceptable to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and produce evidence satisfactory to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of ability to proceed to the diploma.

English language requirements

  • IELTS (Academic module) (including IELTS Online) - Overall score of 6.5, no individual band below 6.0.
  • TOEFL iBT - Overall score of 90 and a writing score of 21.
  • C1 Advanced (previously Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)) & (previously Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE)) - Overall score of 176 (with no individual band below 169).
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic - Overall score of 58 with no communicative skills score below 50.
  • Language Cert - 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
  • English New Zealand's Accredited Pathway Assessment - Assessment Level 3 (with no skill lower than Level 2).
  • APIEL Advanced Placement International English Language Examination - Grade 4 or higher.

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