The course runs for one year (two semesters) for full-time students and for two years (four semesters) for part-time students. The break periods (winter, spring and summer) are used to work on the final research project.
If you register on the MSc in Primate Conservation you will take the six taught modules mentioned below and the final research project.
Primate Conservation and Diversity reviews the variety of primate species, together with their distribution, ecology and conservation status. Taken in the first semester by all students, this module emphasises the differences between primate species and factors that make them more or less vulnerable to extinction. Methods of rainforest biodiversity assessment are explored. Successful conservation projects are highlighted and future options discussed.
People-Primate Interactions provides an overview of the many ways that humans and wildlife (both primates and other animals) interact and impact on each other in primate habitat countries. This module examines examples of conflict between humans and wildlife in relation to crop raiding, hunting, biomedical research, tourism, and the design and management of national parks and wildlife reserves. The course introduces you to the diverse attitudes of different cultures or different levels of society towards primates, and to the way that these attitudes will influence primate conservation initiatives. As an example, the course looks at cross-cultural contrasts in the way primates are perceived and treated, and the problems of promoting primate conservation if these are ignored.
Conservation Education reviews the knowledge base required for effective conservation action. This module centres on practical ways of conveying information about environmental decline and how primates can be used to promote public understanding. Environmental education issues are explored with particular reference to primates, and educational philosophies and the effectiveness of different strategies and media are considered. This course gives you access to a variety of techniques for the presentation and dissemination of information about conservation issues, including traditional media and, particularly, digital technology and methods. You are introduced to productive ways of planning, conducting and evaluating educational projects by means of case studies.
Primate Conservation - Research Methods gives you a basic understanding of how to conduct a field study of primates in the wild, in captivity, or in a museum. The focus of this module is on the primates themselves rather than the humans who play a role in their environment. Methods dealing with humans (such as interviews and education) will be covered in other modules. Instruction is given on the best ways to collect and analyse data for different kinds of research or investigation suitable for the final project, giving you opportunities to compare the methods you intend to use and to learn of their strengths and weaknesses. The course covers planning, data collection, analysis and interpretation of results relevant to research on primate conservation, including training in programmes such as SPSS, DISTANCE, Ranges and ArcView. Extended visits to one or more collaborating institutions are undertaken to learn practical techniques such as museum studies, behavioural observation techniques and botanical sampling in situ. The major aim of this course is for each student to write a research proposal suitable for submission to an appropriate funding agency.
Genetics and Population Management 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. The principles of molecular and population genetics are placed in a practical context, and you will learn about the latest techniques of DNA sequencing and the use of micro-satellites and random sequencing techniques to assess genetic relationships between individuals, populations and species. The course explores the relevance of genetics to primate conservation, including its use in studbooks and the management of metapopulations.
Captive Management and Rehabilitation reviews good practice in the management and welfare of captive primates, and the implications for the survival of declining populations in the wild. Emphasis is given to the effects of the captive environment on behavioural traits (stereotypy, genetic selection) and breeding success; veterinary care, housing and enclosure design, display, and environmental enrichment are also considered. The role of cryogenics, and the pros and cons of reintroduction and rehabilitation into the wild are covered in detail.
NB As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.
You are encouraged to build on your strengths and interests throughout the course, culminating in the production of a Final Research Project that has a tangible outcome of use to the broader public and conservation community.
All projects are accompanied by a written component to integrate and explain the work and this may sometimes be in the form of a traditional thesis.
You will be encouraged 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, web-based materials or design of a practical project relating to primate conservation (eg eco-tourism, habitat management or conservation education).
Teaching and learning
Teaching is through a combination of lectures, research seminars, training workshops, tutorials, case studies, seminar presentations, site visits, computer-aided learning, independent reading and supervised research.
Each of the six modules is assessed by means of coursework assignments that reflect the individual interests and strengths of each student. Coursework assignments for six taught modules are completed and handed in at the end of the semester, and written feedback is given before the start of the following semester. A seventh module, the final project, must be handed in before the start of the first semester of the next academic year. It will be assessed during this semester with an examinations meeting at the beginning of December, after which students receive their final marks.
An important feature of the course is the contribution by each student towards an outreach project that brings primate conservation issues into a public arena. Examples include a poster, display or presentation at a scientific meeting, university society or school. Students may also choose to write their dissertation specifically for scientific publication.
Round-table discussions form a regular aspect of the course and enable closer examination of conservation issues through a sharing of perspectives by the whole group.
Structure and timetabling
Work towards the MSc is time consuming and intensive, and requires careful planning to fit with your other commitments. It is helpful to think of your studies as the equivalent of an average working week – approximately 40 hours per week for full-time students and 20 hours for part-time.
Only a small part of this time is involved with classroom activities, or in tutorials and other meetings - the rest is used for private study. Obviously you will have flexibility over the year, with holidays (a few weeks at both Christmas and Easter) and periods of intensive study, but you will find it hard to keep up and meet assignment deadlines if you take part-time or full-time work that uses up the hours that you need for studying.
Full-time/part-time modes of study
The course runs for one year (two semesters) for full-time students and for two years (four semesters) for part-time students.
Full-time students take three modules per semester plus the final project. Part-time students take two modules in Semester 1 of Year 1, and one module in Semester 2 of Year 1 (vice versa in Year 2), plus the final project.
Part-time students will normally take modules in the order indicated above, but they may choose to alter their programme to suit their needs. The summer period is used to complete the final project.
The course starts with an induction session with various events during the opening week of the first semester. Classes take place on Mondays and Wednesdays for ten weeks (but this may be subject to change in the future).
Approach to assessment
There is a range of assessment styles, including written coursework (essays, article reviews, scientific report writing), oral presentations, quizzes and the practical assignment or project. They are designed to test a range of competences, in both traditional and innovative ways.
In addition to the assessed coursework, you will be assigned regular tasks on topics critical to each module. These tasks ensure that all members of the class have done relevant reading and prepared work that will feed into class discussions.
You will have access to a range of fantastic resources, both within Oxford Brookes University and in Oxford itself.
Our facilities include:
A molecular genetics laboratory
Dry laboratory for analysis of bones and environmental samples
Primate Conservation laboratory, with access to specialist computer programmes
The Tess Lemon Memorial Library, on behalf of the Primate Society of Great Britain.
Students on this course also have access to the world-renowned Bodleian Libraries, and Oxford University Natural History Museum.
We have special links with Apenheul Primate Park, The Wild Futures Trust and Cotswold Wildlife Park. Site visits to zoos, museums, sanctuaries, schools and the Primate Society of Great Britain meetings are a regular part of the course, providing opportunities for student research and networking.
The optional 3-day Apenheul Primate Park field trip costs between £105 and £115 in addition to course fees, depending on numbers. Vist our facebook page for photos of our past field trips
Canopy is an in-house publication with contributions from staff, students and visiting speakers about their research. The aim of Canopy is to provide the wider primatology and conservation community with a representation of current and past works undertaken by MSc students. It acts as a medium for communication between past and present students, those working in primatology, and those with a general interest in the topics covered in these issues.
View past copies of Canopy.
Each module will differ in terms of the lecturer’s teaching style and what degree of independence they expect from master’s students. Some may provide assigned readings each week. It is highly recommended that you have access to the following core textbooks for the course. Other core textbooks are listed under each module.
- Campbell, C., Fuentes, A., MacKinnon, K., Bearder, S. & Stumpf, R. (2011) Primates in Perspective. Oxford University Press, New York.
- Frankham R., Ballou J.D. & Briscoe, D.A. (2010) Introduction to Conservation Genetics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Hosey, G., Melfi, M., & Pankhurst, S. (2013) Zoo Animals: Behaviour, management and Welfare. Oxford University Press, Oxford
- Jacobsen, S., McDuff, M., & Monroe, M. (2015) Conservation Education and Outreach Techniques. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Knight, J. (2000) Natural Enemies: People-Wildlife Conflicts in Anthropological Perspective. Routledge, London.
- Setchell, J.M. & Curtis, D.J. (2011) Field and Laboratory Methods in Primatology: A Practical Guide. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Wich, S. & Marshall, A. (2016). An Introduction to Primate Conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Attendance pattern Monday modules run 1:00 to 4:00 pm and Wednesday modules from 9:00am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The time from 12.00 noon to 1.00 pm on Mondays is used flexibly to cover administrative aspects of the course, questions that arise and to share news or to show conservation films. It is also occasionally used for guest speakers, student talks or videos. Each Monday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 pm during term time we run a seminar series where invited speakers give presentations on their latest research and highlighting new developments in primate conservation and welfare.
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