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Primate Conservation

MSc or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2021 / September 2022



Course length

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

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


Our award winning MSc in Primate Conservation remains the only course to internationally address pressing issues in primate conservation.

You will cover issues including:

  • habitat loss
  • illegal trade
  • human wildlife conflict issues.

As well as investigate ways to mitigate these threats through:

  • population management
  • intervention
  • education.

Our teaching staff are world leaders. They are all active in primate conservation in the field in Asia, Africa including Madagascar, and South America. Your coursework will be innovative and varied. It will provide you with direct training to work in conservation as a practitioner, advocate or academic.

Our links with conservation organisations and NGOs, both  internationally and closer to home, include:

  • Fauna and Flora International
  • Conservation International.

Whether you're working in the lab, with local conservation groups (including zoos and NGOs), or in the field, you'll find yourself in a collaborative and supportive environment. 

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
2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time
£8,200 (Masters); £7,200 (Diploma); £4,100 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International / EU full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time
£8,200 (Masters); £7,200 (Diploma); £4,100 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International / EU full time

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.

Financial support and scholarships

There are 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:

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, if any, 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.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements. In the event of changes made to the government advice and social distancing rules by national or local government, the University may need to make further alterations to the published course content. Detailed information on the changes will be sent to every student on confirmation in August to ensure you have all the information before you come to Oxford Brookes.

Learning and assessment

As a full-time student, you will complete the course in one year (two semesters).

If you opt for part time study, you will complete the course in two years (four semesters).

You will work on your final research project during the break periods; winter, spring and summer.

Students studying in Forum

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.

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.


Conservation Education (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.

Semester 2

Compulsory modules

Primate Conservation Research Methods (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

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.


Genetics and Population Management (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.

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 that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching methods, including:

  • lectures
  • research seminars
  • training workshops
  • tutorials
  • case studies
  • seminar presentations
  • site visits
  • computer-aided learning
  • independent reading
  • supervised research.

An important feature of the course is your contribution towards an outreach project that brings primate conservation issues into a public arena. Examples include:

  • a poster
  • display
  • presentation

These could be at a scientific meeting, university society or school.

You may choose to write your dissertation specifically for scientific publication.

You will take part in round-table discussions, which form a regular aspect of the course. Closely examine conservation issues, through sharing perspectives as a whole group.

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 will be assessed in a range of ways, including:

  • written coursework
  • oral presentations
  • quizzes
  • practical assignment or project

Your coursework assignments reflect your interests and strengths. You will hand them in at the end of the semester and receive written feedback before the start of the following semester. You will receive your final marks after an examinations meeting at the beginning of December.

You will be assigned regular tasks on topics critical to each module. These ensure that all members of the class have completed the required reading and prepared work that will feed into class discussions.

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.


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.

Students visiting museum

After you graduate

Career prospects

You will be joining a supportive global network of former students working across all areas of conservation in organisations from the BBC Natural History Unit through to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They work in roles from keeper and education officer in zoos across the UK and North America to paid researchers at institutes of higher education. Many of our students have even gone on to run their own conservation-related NGOs.

Typically about ten to twenty percent of our MSc graduates continue their studies by enrolling on a PhD programme in the UK or abroad.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Professor Anna Nekaris

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

Dr 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.