School of Biological Sciences

Frequently Asked Questions

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New Zealand tree fern with epiphytes covering the trunk. Possum control has resulted in lush regrowth.

Who will benefit from the programme?

  • Senior government or corporate personnel wanting to upskill in conservation biology, particularly in new and developing areas
  • recently graduated students seeking employment through a relevant postgraduate qualification in conservation biology
  • international students wishing to undertake the study of conservation biology in a range of environments
  • students who wish to gain an overview of current conservation issues and conservation technology at both local and international levels
  • students who want to depth a particular conservation topic by planning, carrying out, analysing and writing up a piece of original research

What qualifications do I need to gain entry into the Master's programme?

Students entering the programme usually have an undergraduate degree in biological science or a similar qualification in agricultural science, medicine or veterinary science. People with a strong academic record and/or appropriate professional experience in areas such as environmental policy and planning, law, economics, science writing and science history are also very welcome.

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How do I apply?

Local students (those from Australia and New Zealand) are covered by an exchange agreement between the two universities which allows prospective students to submit one application only: New Zealand students apply to Victoria University (VUW) and Australian students apply to the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The two universities automatically accept students who are admitted into the programme at the sister institution.

International students must apply both to VUW and to UNSW for admission into the two halves of the programme.

All students must enrol in individual teaching units on arrival at each university. International students also need to make sure they obtain student visas as soon as they receive offer letters from the two universities.

UNSW enrolment information and application forms are available here. UNSW has an online application system, Apply Online, which allows both international and local applicants to submit an application over the Internet. The application fee for an online application is AUD 100.00.

VUW enrolment information and application forms are available here. No application fee applies for enrolment at Victoria University.

When is the deadline for applications?

Application deadline for studies starting in mid-January at VUW - October 15
Application deadline for studies starting in late July at UNSW - May 30

These dates apply to both local and international students.

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Will the MConBio prepare me for entry into a Phd programme?

It is advisable for you to check with your intended place of PhD study as to whether the MConBio degree, a Masters by coursework, will allow you to enter a PhD programme. In Australia and New Zealand, the usual entry into a PhD programme involves completing either an Honours degree or a Masters by thesis.

Other factors, particularly academic performance and previous professional experience may also be taken into account.

Anyone with a first class Honours degree from outside Australia or New Zealand may already be admissible to a PhD programme in these two countries. UNSW and VUW have PhD scholarships available for academically strong international students. Note that international PhD students pay only domestic fees for PhD study in New Zealand.

Please contact the Programme Director for more information about PhD studies.

I would like to undertake a research project. Do I need to identify a topic before I start?

Some of the courses in the Masters programme, such as the  Conservation Project at UNSW, require students to undertake an independent research project. International students in particular are expected to take advantage of this opportunity.

Due to the intensity of the studies and the short timeframe available, students are strongly advised to have a topic identified and some background research done before the start of the semester. Some project proposals can be suggested for those students who do not wish to select their own topic.

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Do I have to write a major thesis at the end of this programme?

There is no thesis component to the MConBio. The Conservation Project at UNSW does expect students to carry out an independent research project and produce a report (maximum 5000 words) or a scientific paper at the end of the semester.

Can I take a break between the two halves of the programme rather than moving straight from one country to the other?

Yes, this is possible, but you must finish the whole programme within two years of first enrolling.

What are the English language proficiency requirements for admission to the Master's programme?

The minimum requirements for entry at Victoria University of Wellington are: TOEFL 575 with (preferably) a TWE of 5; or 237 on the computer-based test; or IELTS overall band of 6.5 with no sub-score below 5.5; or CAE grade B / CPE grade C.
View more information about language proficiency.

If your undergraduate studies were undertaken in English, you may have sufficient English proficiency to be accepted into the course. We reserve the right to request an IELTS or TOEFL test score.

The minimum requirements for entry at the University of New South Wales are: TOEFL 233 on the computer-based test with a minimum in Essay rating 5.0; or IELTS overall band of 6.5 with a minimum score of at least 6.0 in each of the sub-tests of listening, reading, speaking and writing.
View more information about English proficiency.