Master of Ecology (MEcology)

The world is searching for solutions as to how human society can co-exist more harmoniously with the natural world. In response, the demand for ecology professionals is on the rise.

Image of a tree taken from below

The new Master of Ecology (MEcology) is a vocationally-focussed degree equipping graduates with the skills and knowledge to work as professional ecologists. The programme is informed both by New Zealand professionals working in this field, but also by overseas standards for professional ecologists such as those of the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ecology sits at the intersection of nature, industry, and sustainable development. With growing global concerns such as biodiversity decline and climate change, local industry and social development are increasingly butting up against nature. 

Within the three-semester 180-point programme, students learn how to best minimise and mitigate negative interactions from competing forces to allow social development to occur in a more sustainable and positive way.

Students are introduced to professional methods of ecology and develop essential industry skills including geographic information system (GIS) skills, field methods, impact assessment, and identification and best practice working with different groups of organisms. Course content covers core ecological principles and concepts, as well as global change, biosystematics, ecophysiology, ethics, and working within socio-ecological systems.

The University of Auckland has more than 30 ecologists amongst its academic staff, who lead an extensive variety of active and well-established research programmes. 

Through close collaboration with New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes, Auckland Council, the Department of Conservation, and industry, leading workplace practice and thinking is embedded into the teaching programme. Over the three semesters, the programme will draw on presentations from leading ecologists to provide insight into research at the forefront of terrestrial ecology, and from industry members to share current professional applications and methods used in the field.

The MEcology is well positioned at Auckland’s isthmus, a unique nexus. With forest reserves, islands, harbours, and the stunning Hauraki Gulf, and the rapidly developing urban centre of New Zealand’s largest city, students have a rich environment to draw on for field studies.

The programme is well resourced. The University of Auckland has more than 30 ecologists amongst its academic staff, who lead an extensive variety of active and well-established research programmes. Areas of speciality include sea birds, invasive plants and animals, and disease management and there is generous scope for students to explore a vast array of research topics in urban, island, forest, and restoration ecology. The University of Auckland’s School of Biological Sciences, School of Environment and Leigh Marine Laboratory provide further opportunity for extension.

The MEcology qualification will support exciting and emerging careers within industry and/or government. Graduates may find employment as professional ecologists in private environmental or ecological consultancies, as business advisers, within local and national government agencies, and in scientific research institutes.

Entry into the MEcology is through a recognised Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences, ecology, environment, or marine science, or equivalent degree in relevant topics with a GPA of 4. The compulsory 60-point research component still allows possible future progression to PhD research.

Programme director: Associate Professor Bruce Burns

Image of Associate Professor Bruce Burns against a tree background.

Associate Professor Bruce Burns, is a plant ecologist with extensive experience researching New Zealand and overseas ecosystems. He is a former President and current member of the New Zealand Ecological Society.

The University has more than 30 ecologists amongst its academic staff.