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Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Quantitative Genetics Group



Graduate study



Graduate Study

Establishment of Post Graduate Qualifications in Quantitative Genetics at the University of Otago

Fact Sheet May 2016


  • The University of Otago, with financial support from Beef+Lamb Genetics Ltd, is establishing a series of post -graduate qualifications in Quantitative Genetics. These qualifications are planned to commence in 2017.
  • The qualitifications will be offered at Master’s level via the coursework Master of Applied Science (MAppSc) major in Quantitative Genetics (QGEN, and is ‘stair-cased’ from a post graduate certificate (PGCertAppSc) to a postgraduate diploma qualification (PGDipAppSc), to the MappSc. This provides prospective students with the opportunity to undertake studies whilst maintaining employment.
  • These Quantitative Genetics offerings will train students to work anywhere quantitative genetics is used (including the primary sector, medical research and conservation genetics). Students will therefore be required to demonstrate industry-level competency in both quantitative genetics and statistical methods used in bioinformatics. 
  • The MAppSc degree will consist of a combination of course work (including compulsory papers in quantitative genetics and bioinformatics), at least one project, and the balance consisting of mathematics, statistics and genetics papers. Exceptional students will be able to complete the qualification in 12 months.
  • Masters-level graduates will be required to achieve competency in common genetic analyses used in modern breeding programmes, which increasingly utilise genomic data.
  • The degree will be administered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and will involve staff from various other departments, particularly those in Genetics Teaching Programme and the Department of Biochemistry, as well as staff from other institutions.
  • Entry into the programme will require evidence of undergraduate-level capability in statistics and genetics, and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Timeframes for Establishing the Degree

  • The course is currently on track to begin in 2017. Approvals are currently being sought for establishing both a new 400-level paper in quantitative genetics and the new MAppSc(QGEN) major. The new major will require approvals from the Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP), and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) who approves funding.
  • Distance learning options are also being considered. Expressions of interest in this option are welcome.

Quantitative Genetics at Otago

  • University of Otago has capabilities in quantitative genetics that are spread across various departments (Biochemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, Zoology, Botany, and Medical Sciences).
  • Recently the University has expanded it’s capacity in quantitative genetics via support from Beef+Lamb Genetics: recruiting three PhD-level quantitative geneticists plus another post doctoral researcher, as well as a PhD-level bioinformaticist and a MSc-level statistical analyst. See for further information.
  • The University of Otago has also become the new ‘home’ for the Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics, a NZ-wide collaboration developing new statistical tools and analytical pipelines for application in NZ contexts.

Contact for further information:

Dr. Phillip Wilcox
Senior Lecturer
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
University of Otago
PO Box 54
Dunedin 9056
Work (03) 479 7771
Cell (021) 387 892