Empowering Learners at Otago

Information on empowering learners at Otago

OUMSA is a student organisation which represents and serves the needs of medical students at the university, but which also organises many activities within the Division of Health Sciences and throughout the wider community.  The association has various subsidiary groups, including Medical Students for Global Awareness (MSGA), which operates at both university and national levels.  Recent initiatives have included: public lunchtime seminars, featuring speakers from inside and outside the university, and aiming to raise awareness on a variety of global health issues; peer education sessions, enabling members to develop their understanding of areas such as Women’s Health, Child Poverty and Climate Change; advocacy campaigns and submissions to government consultation processes; fundraising to support both local and international charities.

UVC is the channel through which students can connect with volunteer opportunities in the community.  All students at Otago are able to register with UniCrew Volunteers, the key volunteer programme administered by the UVC.  Registered students are able to access an online database of volunteer opportunities, which is curated to provide roles that help students to make contributions to the community and, in the process, also develop their personal skills and leadership.  The UVC also works with 14 residential colleges to integrate volunteering into their annual schedule of events and overall college culture.

The Award is an extended leadership programme designed to enhance students’ leadership potential and to enhance the experience and benefits of volunteering.  The programme requires completion of at least 170 hours of service and leadership activities over a minimum period of two years; of the 170 hours, 120 hours must be in leadership roles.

AQFI301: Field Methods for Assessment of Fisheries and Aquatic Habitats (Department of Marine Science):

This paper is offered as part of the major in Aquaculture and Fisheries for the Bachelor of Applied Science degree and is based on an 8-day field course at one of the Marae (tribal home and headquarters) in the vicinity of Dunedin.  Subjects for research in the field study are selected by the students from a list of topics that are of importance to the tribe, Kati Huirapa.  In selecting a topic students must assess the feasibility of arriving at a useful contribution, and at the conclusion of the field research they give a presentation on their findings to Kati Huirapa.

BSNS301: Internship Practicum (Otago Business School):

This programme involves a 6-12 month credit-bearing in-company internship, typically taken between a student’s second and third year of study for the BCom (Bachelor of Commerce) degree.  Once accepted as an intern, the student takes primary responsibility for designing a project that is the basis for assessment in the course.  Interns submit a monthly reflective log on their progress and complete two final reports: one for the company, the other for the university, including citations to the academic literature that has informed the project.


This one-year Master’s programme aims at equipping students to understand and to operate with confidence in the global environment.  This is achieved through seminar discussions, debates, simulation exercises, and independent research, led by senior academics who are all specialists in their fields.  The programme prepares students for careers in diplomacy, international business, research, teaching, journalism, and the public service.

Food Waste Module (Department of Food Science):

This special topic paper for honours and postgraduate (4th year) students requires students to specify and develop their own projects, positioning them as change agents and co-creators of learning and teaching.  This is done by having students take responsibility for establishing and implementing a ‘real life’ community engagement campaign about a social and/or environmental issue relating to food disposal.  In 2015 the group project involved building a partnership with the Dunedin City Council to fund and screen the film Just Eat It, followed by a series of three public workshops on how to use food less wastefully.