MSc Wildlife Biology and Conservation

Postgraduate, Part-time

Designed in conjunction with employers, this practical course will provide you with the skills and knowledge to help manage and conserve biodiversity.

  • Napier code:

    74707MM

  • Course type:

    Part-time

  • Duration:

    ~3.5 years

  • Award:

    MSc

  • Location:

    Sighthill campus

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Course introduction

The greatest challenge facing conservation biologists today is the preservation of the world’s biodiversity in the face of considerable human demands on space and resources.

By combining the disciplines of wildlife biology and conservation biology, experienced staff will help you develop and apply both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to address this challenge.

Our graduates have gone on to work for government agencies and independent wildlife organisations nationally and internationally.

This is a part-time course, starting in September or January, however, the development of theory and practice are best facilitated with a September start.


wild life biology

This course has been designed in conjunction with employers and professional bodies. The main focus is on the development of practical employability skills.

In addition to studying relevant theory, you’ll have the opportunity to develop:

  • advanced analytical skills for population investigation and management
  • practical skills used in identifying, quantifying and assessing biodiversity
  • transferable skills including communication, IT (GIS, R, Mark, Estimate S), problem solving, research and team working

As one of your last taught modules you'll need to be able to attend a three-week intensive field course based in Scotland to help embed practical skills in sampling, identification (plants, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, small mammals, birds) and data analysis.

In addition, guided visits to several sites and talks from managers will highlight how conservation and management are informed by the aims and objectives of the site owners. This usually takes place in early May.

Our staff have years of experience working worldwide in wildlife conservation and consultancy and are keen to help you develop your potential. In addition, external speakers from a range of government agencies, charities and consultancies share their experiences and give insights into career options.

The course is studied part-time. The number of modules taken each trimester can vary to suit your availability. If you're eligible for a SAAS loan, then you'll need to study the taught modules over two academic years, otherwise you could take three years. In either case, you'll then have a further two trimesters in which to complete your research project.

You'll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, field trips and independent study, supported with information on the virtual learning environment.

As your interests develop through the taught course you'll be able to design a final research project to suit your individual goals.

Subjects include

  • Principles of wildlife management
  • Scientific methods
  • Humans and wildlife
  • Biodiversity and conservation
  • Management of aquatic protected areas
  • Field and laboratory skills
  • Modelling wildlife populations or case studies in applied ecology

Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Returning graduates, who share their experience of the work environment each year, have emphasised the importance of the skills gained from the course in their subsequent success.

You could develop a career with government agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural England, non-governmental agencies and charities such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wildlife Trusts or private consultancies.

Our entry requirements indicate the minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

International students

If your qualifications aren't listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We are committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.


Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, preferably including aspects of ecology/biology.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.



Tuition fees
Students from 2016/17 2017/18
Home/EU-Taught modules *£570 *£570
Home/EU-Dissertation module £350 £350
Overseas-Taught modules *£1,893 *£1,893
Overseas-Dissertation module £1,262 £1,262
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Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.
This course comprises of 180 credits from taught modules and a dissertation. The total fee you will pay is dependant upon the exit award you wish to achieve.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Modules that you will study as part of this course*

Biodiversity and Conservation ( ENV11100 )

Why conserve biodiversity: definition & review. Levels of biodiversity. Conservation genetics. Patterns of biodiversity: spatial patterns, productivity, stability. Captive breeding. Measuring biodiversity: estimators & indices I. Reintroduction programmes. Measuring biodiversity: estimators & indices II. The species reintroduction challenge. Using biodiversity measurement: prioritisation of protected areas. Introducing biodiversity analysis with R. Biodiversity data analysis with R. Speciation. Extinction. Predicting extinction rate and risk. Emerging approaches to biodiversity monitoring and assessment. Conserving Biodiversity. Conservation in the face of climate change. Further Uses and Analysis of Biodiversity. Biodiversity: Problem Solving. Biodiversity is a unifying concept that pulls together knowledge and techniques from the majority of biological fields. You will learn how to evaluate the relevance and measurement of biodiversity, factors threatening biodiversity, and effective means of conservation. On completion of the module, you will have developed knowledge, skills and experience that will enable you to contribute to biodiversity-related conservation projects to a professional standard.

Further information

Field and Laboratory Skills ( ENV11108 )

A series of practical sessions in the field and lab will be followed by a field course during which students will conduct (under supervision) sampling/monitoring in terrestrial and aquatic habitats (as appropriate to the study area) with identification and enumeration of various taxa. Habitat and species specific methods related to terrestrial invertebrates, aquatic invertebrates, small mammals, birds and plants will be covered. Students will be tested on the key employability skills of species identification and report writing.

Further information

Humans and Wildlife ( ENV11101 )

Topics include ecotourism; wildlife guiding; environmental education; community engagement; wildlife law and economics; human-wildlife conflict; urban ecology; agricultural ecology; social research in conservation; case study in protected area management.

Further information

Research Project ( BMS11102 )

On-line literature searches. Literature review. Project formulation. Hypothesis generation. Experimental design. Development of practical skills/research technique. Data generation/collection and analysis. Use of appropriate statistical analysis. Evaluation of findings, critical analysis and conclusions, with reference to supporting literature. Communication of original research results in a report written in the style of a scientific paper.

Further information

Scientific Methods ( ENV11109 )

Philosophy of science, the nature of the literature and scientific method including survey and experimental strategies, the need for replication and controls, working with people and qualitative methods, ethical and regulatory issues in scientific research, developing a research proposal, statistical and related methods for analysing and reporting data. Taxonomic theory and practice across a range of taxa; plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, mainly birds.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.