Practicum opportunities

We offer six-week placements through the University of Otago’s Postgraduate Diploma of Wildlife Management. These placements count as credit for the WLM403: Practice of Wildlife Management course.

The placement is meant to be a mutually beneficial exchange where the project hosts receive skilled help with one of their current projects, and the students learn what it is like to work in “the real world.” The host and student are expected to jointly identify a specific project to work on, and the student will be required to write a short report or project proposal at the end of the placement.

The host organization is asked to help assess the students’ performance. See the Student Assessment and Student Guidelines for details.

Attach the Student Assessment.
Attach the Student Guidelines.

What are the deadlines?

No hard deadlines exist. Students generally work over the summer months and will be looking to line up placements in July. Others are interested in placements through the fall and spring semesters. Please indicate your interest as early as possible, either as a host or a student.

Which skills are necessary?

Qualified students will have at least three years’ academic experience at the Bachelor’s level (usually in ecology and geography). By the time students enroll in this practicum, they will have one more year of experience in specialist wildlife management and research training.

The requisite skills and assets for practicum students are as follows:

  • Critical Thinking: Students will be critical thinkers with an appreciation of rigour and the ability to apply sound scientific method and evaluation of evidence. They will be life-long learners and problem solvers, able to manage in the face of uncertainty and constraints.
  • Professional skills: Students will be proficient in communication (speaking, writing, presenting, debating); and study design and data interpretation. They will appreciate adaptive management frameworks as ways of knowing and will function well in teams, yet be able to work independently and to deadlines. They will understand the differences and common ground between managers, scientists, and educationalists, and be able to work collaboratively with communities and resource-users.
  • Specific knowledge: Students will possess skills in the collection, manipulation, analysis and presentation of quantitative data, and will understand techniques for abundance estimation, biodiversity assessment, predator control, and pest management, radio-tracking, and analysis of spatial data. In addition they will have a developed understanding of the processes of species recovery, harvest management and pest control, including the interactions between society, policy, science, and adaptive management. They will understand the principles, uses, and limitations of mark-recapture analysis for survival estimation; resource selection studies; population viability analysis; captive-breeding; and reintroduction. They will be comfortable using a variety of computer-based techniques to locate and use information, to manage and analyses data, and to present findings of such investigations.

These attributes encompass those identified as essential competencies by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), and indicated by DOC and Landcare staff as essential teaching within the Otago Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Management. These attributes also overlap significantly with the Generic Graduate Attributes for the Otago University BSc (Honours).

What would the work look like?

Potential work for the students’ placement within the Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai programme includes, but is not limited to:

  • Designing and conducting stock assessments
  • Capturing, handling, and tagging of animals
  • Surveys of fish off-take from mātaitai, taiāpure, and rāhui
  • Habitat mapping
  • Literature review
  • Analysis of historical databases
  • Record-keeping and establishment of databases
  • Report writing, preparing PowerPoint presentations, creating posters
  • Preparing material for websites, pamphlets, marketing, and educational resources

Chris Hepburn, Marine Sciences Department, University of Otago
Office: 310 Castle Street, Room 144  |  Tel: 64 3 479 7462  |  Email: