Primate Conservation

MSc or PGDip or PGCert

Find a course


Key facts

Start dates

September 2024 / September 2025



Course length

Full time: MSc: 12 months; PGDip: 8 months; PGCert: 4 months

Part time: MSc: 24 months; PGDip: 16 months; PGCert: 8 months


Focus on the area of Primate Conservation that you’re passionate about - and learn directly from internationally renowned conservation researchers.

On this course, you’ll gain a deep knowledge of conservation biology and primates. You’ll shape your learning experience around your interests - whether that’s habitat loss, the illegal wildlife trade or population management. You’ll collaborate on meaningful conservation projects and you’ll undertake fieldwork on a topic you care about - within our network of field sites in over 40 countries. 

You’ll work directly with internationally acclaimed tutors who carry out world-leading research across Asia, South America and Africa, including Madagascar. Your tutors have unparalleled expertise on primates, and you can specialise in the topic of your choice within species like:

  • Great apes
  • Gibbons
  • Asian, African and American Monkeys
  • Lorises and galagos
  • Lemurs
  • Tarsiers

You’ll emerge with the skills to start or accelerate your career in conservation biology.

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

You will normally be required to have, or be expecting, a good honours degree in anthropology, biology, ecology, psychology or an acceptable related discipline.

If you are not a graduate, or if you have graduated in an unrelated discipline, you will be considered for entry to the course if you can demonstrate in your application, and at an interview, that you are able to work at an advanced level in the discipline. You may also be asked to write a short essay and/or present evidence of original work in support of your application.

We will consider appropriate credits obtained elsewhere. Accreditation of prior learning (eg a conversion course or an advanced research training course) will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the course manager. 

Transfer between part-time and full-time modes, transfer from the diploma to the MSc, or deferral of study may be possible in certain circumstances at the discretion of the examination committee. 

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

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

International qualifications and equivalences


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 (UK) full time
Masters £9,300; Diploma £8,300; Certificate £4,650

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,750; Diploma £8,750; Certificate £4,875

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,300; Diploma £8,300; Certificate £4,650

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,750; Diploma £8,750; Certificate £4,875

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

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.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

There are also opportunities to apply for a scholarship which covers the fees for a student from a primate habitat country. Applicants must indicate on their application that they would like to be considered for this scholarship.

Because of the urgent need for the study of conservation, some private agencies offer scholarships with very particular eligibility criteria relating to gender, age, nationality, and domicile. Ask your local librarian for a guide to funding within your country. You could also try the following agencies:

Also available is the Dean's Postgraduate Scholarship

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences believes strongly in the importance of making a difference to the world of our students, and in the ability and potential of our students to make a difference in the world. The Dean's Scholarship is one small way in which we make that belief tangible. Please click on the button above to find out more.

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

Additional costs

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

All students across the Primatology and Conservation courses are invited to participate in field trips to Apenheul in the Netherlands, the Monkey Sanctuary, and the Cotswold Wildlife Park - with whom we have special links. These trips are optional, or are part of optional modules and therefore not included within the course fees.

There is an optional visit of the Apenheul Primate Sanctuary in Apendhorn, Holland.

You will be responsible for your own accommodation, transport, and living costs. Please bear in mind that costs can vary depending on the GBP-Euro exchange rate. On average, the cost for this trip runs at £160 including transport, 2 nights bed and breakfast, and two days entry to the primate park.

Students are expected to consider and manage the cost of their own research and fieldwork, whether this is abroad or at home. As well as carrying out projects across the globe, our students have carried out research in museums and zoos closer to home, as well as laboratory and library-based studies. Research has been undertaken either in the field (Argentina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua; Morocco, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Uganda; Madagascar; India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan), in rescue centres (Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa), zoos (UK, Netherlands, Italy) or in our primate lab in Oxford.

Learning and assessment

You’ll examine conservation biology and explore strategies for primate protection and welfare. You’ll also explore issues like:

  • Human-primate interactions
  • Environmental decline and habitat loss
  • Captive management and translocations
  • Genetics and population management

You’ll be able to carry out captive studies or fieldwork, which you can shape around your interests. As a long-established course, we have strong relationships with field sites, zoos and rescue centres in over 40 countries - many of which are run by our alumni. You’ll be able to join well-established projects, with expert staff and professional equipment. You need to apply for funding for optional international fieldwork - but we’ll support you with grant applications and fundraising.

You’ll learn from renowned tutors, many of whom are internationally celebrated. Our teaching staff sit on the IUCN Primate Specialist Group and on editorial boards for major journals - like Folia Primatologica. We also have a rare specialism in nocturnal primates -  that includes lorises, lemurs, galagos, tarsiers and night monkeys.

Primate Conservation, PGCert, PGDip or MSc students studying in Forum on campus at Oxford Brookes University

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.

For the MSc Primate Conservation trajectory, it may be possible in exceptional circumstances for students to do an independent study module in lieu of another module only with staff approval.

Semester 1

Compulsory modules

  • Primate Diversity and Conservation: Theory, Methods and Practice (20 credits)

    You’ll review the variety of primate species, together with their distribution, ecology and conservation status. You’ll develop your understanding of the differences between primate species and the factors that make them more or less vulnerable to extinction. You’ll explore methods of population viability assessment, and find out about successful conservation projects.

  • Primate Conservation - Research Methods - Semester 2 (20 credits)

    You’ll gain a basic understanding of how to conduct a field study of primates in the wild, in captivity or in a museum. You’ll learn about the best ways to collect and analyse data for different kinds of research or investigation that are suitable for your final project. You will have the chance to compare the methods available and learn about their strengths and weaknesses. 

    You’ll learn about research planning, data collection, analysis and interpretation of results, and you’ll receive training in programs such as SPSS, DISTANCE, Ranges and QGis. You’ll take part in visits to one or more collaborating institutions, to learn practical techniques such as museum studies, behavioural observation techniques in zoos and botanical sampling in situ.

Optional modules

People-Primate Interaction (20 credits)

You’ll receive an overview of the many ways that humans and wildlife (both primates and other animals) interact with and impact each other. You’ll consider examples of interactions between humans and wildlife in relation to crop raiding, hunting, biomedical research, tourism, and the design and management of national parks and wildlife reserves. 

You’ll learn about the diverse attitudes of different cultures or levels of society towards primates, and the way that these attitudes influence primate conservation initiatives.


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.

Semester 2

Optional modules

Conservation Education and Outreach (20 credits)

What are the best ways to inform people about environmental decline? How can primates be used to promote public understanding of conservation? You will explore environmental and conservation education with particular reference to threatened species, and consider the theories behind and ways to measure the effectiveness of different strategies. You’ll discover a variety of techniques for presenting and disseminating information about conservation, particularly using digital technology and methods. We’ll make use of case studies to introduce you to planning, conducting and evaluating educational projects.


Captive Management and Rehabilitation (20 credits)

In this module we review good practice in the management and welfare of captive primates, and the implications for the survival of declining populations in the wild. You’ll study the effects of the captive environment on behavioural traits (stereotypy, genetic selection), welfare and breeding success. You’ll consider factors such as 

  • veterinary care
  • nutrition
  • housing and enclosure design 
  • environmental enrichment.

We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of reintroducing and rehabilitating primates into the wild.


Conservation Genetics (20 credits)

You’ll gain an understanding of applied conservation genetics, as well as demographic management of small captive populations and those that have become isolated in the wild. We will present the foundations of population and molecular genetics, which we will place in a practical  and conservation management context. You’ll learn about genetic techniques that allow us to assess relationships between individuals, populations and species. You will have the chance to apply these skills in a biochemistry lab setting and explore the relevance of genetics to animal conservation.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

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.

Final project

Compulsory modules

  • Final project (60 credits)

    We’ll encourage you to build on your strengths and interests throughout the course, culminating in a final research project that has an outcome of use to the broader public and conservation community. All projects are accompanied by a written component to integrate and explain the work including in the form of a traditional thesis.

    We aim for you to produce work that has a lasting impact. Examples include:

    • the production of a film or exhibition
    • one or more articles/chapters for publication
    • a broadcasting project
    • an education handbook
    • design of a practical project relating to primate conservation (eg eco-tourism, habitat management or conservation education).

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

Learning and teaching

You’ll experience a range of teaching methods, that include:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Training workshops
  • Tutorials
  • Case studies
  • Site visits
  • Independent reading
  • Supervised research.

You’ll also be able to carry out an outreach project that brings primate conservation issues to a wider, public audience. In a scientific, university society or school environment, you might deliver:

  • Academic posters
  • Artistic exhibitions
  • Presentations

You’ll take part in group discussions, which are a regular part of the course. You’ll constantly examine conservation issues, and share perspectives in a group. You’ll also have the option to write your dissertation specifically for scientific publication.

Field trips

All students across the Primatology and Conservation courses are invited to take part in field trips to:

  • Apenheul in the Netherlands
  • the Monkey Sanctuary
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park.

These trips are optional, or are part of optional modules and therefore not included within the course fees. Please see the Additional costs section of this page for details.


Assessment methods used on this course

You’ll be assessed by methods such as:

  • written coursework and scientific articles
  • presentations
  • quizzes
  • practical assignments or projects, including grant writing

You’ll tackle your coursework with growing knowledge and skill, supported by your tutors. And your assignments can reflect your interests and play to your strengths. 

You’ll also work on a final research project, in an area of primate conservation that you're passionate about. You’ll be supported all the way through by a tutor with specialist expertise in your chosen topic.


Our vibrant research culture is driven by a thriving and collaborative community of academic staff and doctoral students.

Our Research clusters include:

  • the Nocturnal Primate Research Group (NPRG)
  • Environment Research Group
  • the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group (OWTRG)
  • the Europe Japan Research Centre
  • the Human Origins and Palaeoenvironments.

Research in the department is carried out in the following areas:

  • anthropology of art
  • anthropology of food
  • anthropology of globalisation
  • anthropology of Japan
  • Basque studies
  • culture and landscapes
  • environmental archaeology and paleo-anthropology
  • environmental anthropology
  • environmental reconstruction
  • human origins
  • human resource ecology
  • human–wildlife interaction and conservation
  • organisational anthropology
  • physical environmental processes and management
  • primate conservation
  • primatology
  • quaternary environmental change
  • social anthropology of South Asia and Europe
  • urban and environmental studies
  • wildlife trade.

Find out more by browsing our staff profiles.

Primate Conservation, MSc, PGDip or PGCert students visiting museum on field trip at Oxford Brookes University

After you graduate

Career prospects

You’ll graduate with the skills and knowledge to launch or accelerate your career in animal conservation - as a practitioner, advocate or researcher.

You’ll benefit from our close links with conservation organisations and NGOs, in the UK and globally, including:

  • Borneo Nature Foundation
  • Monitor
  • Twycross Zoo
  • Sumatran Orangutan Society

Our graduates progress to careers ranging from starting their own NGOs, to Education Officers in zoos or researchers at universities. And during your course, you’ll be able to connect with leading specialists and alumni from organisations like the BBC Natural History Unit, Great Apes Survival Partnership, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

When you finish your course, you’ll join a supportive network of Oxford Brookes graduates who work across all areas of conservation. You’ll also have the option to continue your studies by enrolling on our own PhD programme, or others in the UK or globally.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Professor Anna Nekaris, OBE

Anna is a world-renowned primatologist who teaches on the BSc Anthropology course. She is a specialist in Asian lorises and is internationally recognised for her work identifying threats to these critically endangered species. Anna has published more than 250 papers, and has appeared in documentaries on Animal Planet, the BBC, the History Channel and more. You’ll see Anna on modules like Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Primate Conservation.

Read more about Anna

Professor Giuseppe Donati

Over the last twenty years Giuseppe has conducted research on behaviour, ecology, and conservation of lemurs and New World monkeys, and produced numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals or books.

Read more about Giuseppe

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.