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Conservation Ecology

PGDip or PGCert or MSc

Key facts


Start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Location

Headington

Course length

Full time: MSc: 12 months, PGDip: 8 months, PGCert: 8 months

Part time: MSc: 24 months, PGDip: 20 months, PGCert: 8 months

Department

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Accreditation(s)

CIEEM

  • CIEEM Accredited Degree Pathway

Overview


Our MSc/PGDip/PGCert Conservation Ecology course develops the professional and field skills, including identification and survey techniques required for effective conservation. It will familiarise you with the key ecological concepts underlying evidence-based conservation. 

You will produce professional reports and assessments. And undertake monitoring of species and communities. You will also gain essential skills for conservation practitioners, for example:

  • knowledge of international and national wildlife legislation
  • planning law and environmental policy
  • IT competencies, including Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • an understanding of the ecological requirements of different species and the implications of environmental change
  • an ability to statistically interpret field data. 

The course has two pathways:

  • conservation within the UK/EU
  • conservation at the international level.
     
Students outside on a field trip

How to apply


Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Applicants are usually expected to have (or be about to attain) at least a second class honours degree in a related scientific subject from a recognised institution of higher education. If you do not have these academic qualifications, you could still be offered a place on this course if you can show evidence of the potential to succeed based on professional and/or related experiences.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, you must satisfy our English language requirements by providing us with evidence of a minimum IELTS score of 6.5.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences

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English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees


Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£7,490

Home/EU part time
£3,820

International full time
£14,800

Home/EU full time
£8,500

Home/EU part time
£4,250

International full time
£15,400

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees


2019/20
Home/EU full time
£7,490

Home/EU part time
£3,820

International full time
£14,800

2020/21
Home/EU full time
£8,500

Home/EU part time
£4,250

International full time
£15,400

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Learning and assessment


The course is organised on a module-credit basis. Each 20 M-level credit module represents about 200 hours of student input. And about 36 hours of staff contact, usually through three-hour teaching blocks over the two 12-week semesters. 

Early in Semester 1 you will plan your research project. You will work with your tutor to design a project that best suits your interests and needs. We encourage working with external research organisations and conservation practitioners.

For a Postgraduate Certificate you will need 60 level 7 credits. 

For an MSc you need 180 level 7 credits - you must complete all the course modules including the research project.  

For a PGDip 120 level 7 credits - you must complete the course modules without the research project. 

We also offer the course on a part-time basis. We encourage applications from professionals in conservation organisations and environmental consultancies who wish to upgrade their qualifications.

Two female students studying with a laptop

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

EU/UK conservation pathway

Compulsory modules

Taxonomy and Identification (20 credits)

This module develops taxonomic skills by asking you to focus on the processes of identification of species and recognition of key characteristics of selected taxonomic groups. Skills are learned through practical studies in the field and the use of collections and appropriate taxonomic tools.

Ecology for Conservation (20 credits)

This module introduces appropriate theory and methods together with examination of areas of controversy and best practice for habitat and species conservation and monitoring.

Ecosystem Degradation and Management (20 credits)

This module considers the nature and extent of ecosystem degradation resulting from human activities and the methods for conserving and restoring degraded ecosystems.

Career Development and Research Skills (20 credits)

This module looks at the practical aspects of scientific work, such as designing and analysing experiments and presenting proposals for research and results to prospective employers.

Optional modules

GIS and Environmental Modelling (20 credits)

This module looks at the practical application of GIS and other computer-based techniques and models as tools to assist in environmental decision making.

Procedures and Methods of EIA (20 credits)

In this module you will examine the procedures and methods of environmental impact assessments.

Molecular Biology (20 credits)

This module introduces core practical skills within molecular biology, to give a firm grounding in the practical aspects of molecular biology that can be applied to problems in conservation biology.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (20 credits)

This module introduces the methods and practices of biodiversity assessment at large spatial scales and examines the essential role the components of biodiversity have in providing services for humankind.

International pathway

Compulsory modules

Ecology for Conservation (20 credits)

This module introduces appropriate theory and methods together with examination of areas of controversy and best practice for habitat and species conservation and monitoring.

International Legislation, Humans and Wildlife (20 credits)

This module examines the role of international legislation in wildlife conservation and trade, and standard methods for assessing the status of species and habitats, together with a consideration of the role of human-wildlife conflicts in conservation.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (20 credits)

This module introduces the methods and practices of biodiversity assessment at large spatial scales and examines the essential role the components of biodiversity have in providing services for humankind.

Career Development and Research Skills (20 credits)

This module looks at the practical aspects of scientific work, such as designing and analysing experiments and presenting proposals for research and results to prospective employers.

Optional modules

Taxonomy and Identification (20 credits)

This module develops taxonomic skills by asking you to focus on the processes of identification of species and recognition of key characteristics of selected taxonomic groups. Skills are learned through practical studies in the field and the use of collections and appropriate taxonomic tools.

GIS and Environmental Modelling (20 credits)

This module looks at the practical application of GIS and other computer-based techniques and models as tools to assist in environmental decision making.

Genetic and Population Management (20 credits)

This module leads to an advanced understanding of the genetic and demographic management of both small captive populations and those that have become isolated in the wild. Principles of molecular and population genetics are placed in a practical context, and the skills of DNA sequencing and the use of micro-satellites and random sequencing techniques to assess genetic relationships are developed.

Conservation Education (20 credits)

This module provides the knowledge base required for effective conservation action is reviewed. This module centres on practical ways of conveying information about environmental decline and how public understanding is essential for effective conservation.

Placement

Optional modules

Work placement and professional recognition

We encourage you to conduct your research project with conservation organisations or with one of our research groups. We have good links with a range of national and local conservation organisations and ecological consultancies. On successful completion of this MSc, you will be eligible to apply for graduate membership of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. With an additional two years' work experience, you will be eligible to apply for associate membership.

Final project

Compulsory modules

Research Project (60 credits)

This module is required for the MSc. It involves an individual research study on a selected topic in Conservation Ecology.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

 You will be taught with a variety of methods, including:

  • field visits and exercises
  • lectures
  • directed reading
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • practical exercises
  • laboratory sessions 
  • project work.

Teaching focuses on current issues in conservation associated with: 

  • environmental change
  • species identification 
  • survey techniques
  • the key theoretical underpinning of conservation ecology
  • national and international wildlife legislation 
  • GIS
  • human-wildlife conflicts
  • biodiversity assessment 
  • environmental impact assessment.

Field trips

The course has a large practical component, developing survey and assessment methods as well as identification skills. We use the varied landscape of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire as our natural laboratory. This landscape is used to illustrate major conservation issues as well.

Most of this field work is conducted as part of your modules during semesters. But we also have a field skills based period at the end of the taught component of the course. We also offer opportunities to work towards gaining specialist licences, which are invaluable for consultancy work.

There are no extra costs associated with the fieldwork components of this MSc.

Assessment

Assessment methods used on this course

You will be assessed using a variety of methods including:

  • scientific reports 
  • verbal presentations
  • mock grant applications
  • critiques of published work and reports
  • taxonomic collections 
  • dissertation, covering your research topic.  

You will be assessed separately for the different subject areas relating to conservation through assignments, presentations and project reports.  
 
We give you detailed feedback on all your submissions and provide opportunities for formative feedback. 

Research


Our Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation is developing the use of mobile applications for data collection and processing in the field. 

Research in the following areas is undertaken via the Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation:

  • invertebrate ecology and biogeography
  • evolutionary developmental biology
  • spatial ecology and land use
  • evolution of animal development and morphology.
Student researching on a laptop

After you graduate


Career prospects

Graduates of this course gain employment primarily with environmental consultancies or agencies, conservation organisations and charities, or continue academic research as PhD students. Some of our past students are currently working for:

  • environmental consultants
  • the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • the Environment Agency
  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Natural England  
  • conservation organisations overseas.

Our Staff


Tim Shreeve

My research is in the area of insect ecology and phylogeography, using butterflies as model organisms, with a firm commitment to contributing to the evidence base for conservation.

Read more about Tim

Programme Changes: On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.