Wildlife Biology & Conservation MSc

Gain the opportunity to develop relevant skills for employment in the fields of wildlife biology and conservation while studying remotely.


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.

This is a distance learning course, offering you the flexibility to learn at your own pace and place, possibly alongside a role in conservation or while balancing study with work or family life. There is no requirement to come to Edinburgh during the course but, if you are able to, there are options to join us for field trips in Scotland to further develop your field skills and meet fellow students and course lecturers in person.

This distance-learning MSc has run for more than a decade and our graduates have gone on to work for environmental consultancies, government agencies, research institutions and independent wildlife organisations nationally and internationally. For some, this MSc is the beginning of their conservation career and for others it is a route to promotion or PhD.

Typical entry points to this course are in September & January. Please enquire for more information.


Feral cat in the wild

Mode of Study:

Distance learning (available as Full-time and Part-time)


3-4 years

Start date:


Course details

This course has been designed in conjunction with employers and professional bodies. 

The main focus is on the development of a range of knowledge and skills to equip you to work in this field.

In addition to studying relevant theory, you’ll have the opportunity to develop:
advanced analytical skills for population quantification and management
practical skills used in identifying, quantifying and assessing biodiversity
transferable skills including communication, IT (GIS, R), problem solving, research and team working

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.

We develop our MSc research project topics in collaboration with a wide range of conservation organisations so that your MSc research answers pressing questions and your findings can be directly applied to real-world problems.

Lead academics 

The core academic team boast a wide range of skills and research interests. Staff include: 

Application guidance

We look for a science-based Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, preferably including aspects of ecology/ zoology/environmental management. To complete the programme successfully, you will achieve the same learning outcomes as students on the campus-based version of this programme which is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and carries detailed entry expectations. The part-time nature of the DL programme does allow for some flexibility to fill gaps in prerequisite knowledge alongside studying the Masters programme if you have a strong background in other respects (e.g. high academic achievement in other subjects; extensive relevant work experience/voluntary experience; some knowledge/skill gaps filled by short courses). Applications will be considered holistically: we welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and accept those who can demonstrate that they are well prepared to succeed in this advanced programme. 
If you intend to apply, please consult the Personal Statement Guidance document (PDF)  and be sure to construct your personal statement according to the format specified. Failing to do so will result in your application being deemed ineligible. Applicants may also use the criteria specified in this document to guide their selection of short courses/work experience opportunities in order to better meet the entry criteria for this Masters programme. Please enquire if you have a question about entry requirements.



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    How you’ll be taught

    The course is studied by distance learning using Moodle as the virtual learning environment for a range of online learning materials and activities including recorded lectures, asynchronous discussions, online quizzes, exercises for you to complete and guided reading. Some modules encourage you to work in a small group (asynchronously if required). You can study from anywhere in the world where you have a reliable internet connection. You will be able to engage with the learning resources in your own time: there is no requirement to be available at set times although there will be opportunities to engage with staff and students live online for those who can and wish to. You will interact with students who are studying the campus-based version of this programme; for example, in asynchronous online discussion forums on Moodle or by sending questions to be discussed in on-campus seminars which are then recorded and available to you online. 

    You will have a Professional Development Tutor: an academic closely involved with this programme who will help you to steer your individual development as you progress through the course and to access (remotely) the services of the wider university. 
    As your interests and skills develop through the taught course, you will be able to design a final independent research project to suit your individual objectives. This might involve the analysis of existing datasets; collecting data in the field in your local area; collaboration with external organisations and/or travel for field/lab work, according to your objectives. If you work in ecology/conservation, you might choose to integrate your research project with your work.

    The programme is designed to allow you to study at a pace which fits with your other commitments. The academic year is split into three trimesters with the taught modules running in the spring and autumn trimesters only. For those in full-time employment the standard rate is 20 credits (typically one module) per trimester, which means that for a September start you would complete your taught modules in three years (120 credits = PGDip) and then move on to the research component, completing your project over two trimesters. The project can begin in any trimester.

    Note that if you are in the UK and interested in applying for a study loan with SAAS or SFE they will only support a maximum three-year study duration. Our standard rate exceeds that and is therefore only suitable for those who are self-funding.  It is possible to complete within a shorter time by taking 30, 40 or 60 credits per trimester but this is not suitable for those with other full-time commitments. View the flexible study rates document (PDF) for more information. 

    As an example, modules for the distance learning standard part-time study rate (20 credits per trimester) with a September start are as follows:   

    Year 1 Sept-Dec

    Humans and Wildlife (ENV11101) 

    Year 1 Jan – Apr

    Management of Aquatic Protected Areas (ENV11112) 

    Year 2 Sept-Dec

    Scientific Methods (ENV11109) 

    Year 2 Jan-Apr

    Biodiversity and Conservation (ENV11100) 

    Year 3 Sept-Dec

    Principles of Wildlife Management(ENV11116) and Case Studies in Applied Ecology (ENV11115) (both 10 credit modules) 

    Year 3 Jan-Apr

    Species Identification Skills (ENV11420) and  

    Field Methods in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (ENV11419) (both 10 credit modules) 

    Year 3 Apr-Dec

    Project (ENV11117) (60 credits) 

    A link to the descriptor for each module can be found by using the module code to search on Module Search. Note that info on the learning, teaching and assessment strategy is revealed by clicking on the ‘View Full details’ link within each descriptor.

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    There are no traditional, end-of-module exams. Instead, you will work on a variety of relevant professional tasks, both written and oral. Assessments include a zoning document, a biodiversity report, a development proposal and recordings of audio-visual presentations including a research proposal pitch. Taxonomic identification and statistical analysis are key skills which are assessed using time-limited online tests.



Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Humans and Wildlife ( ENV11101 )

Topics include ecotourism, human-environment interactions, and environmental education. Aspects of urban ecology, community engagement, and social research in conservation relate directly to the challenges of land management to benefit both human and the environment, which forms one of the assessments. Agricultural ecology, and examples of human-wildlife conflict and protected area management around the world are also studied in relation to wildlife law and economics.

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.


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

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Wildlife Biology and Conservation? 

This is not designed to be a conversion course. The FT and PT programmes are accredited with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and consequently carry detailed entry expectations. The part-time nature of the DL programme does allow for some entry level flexibility but you will be expected to cover the same materials as FT students so we look for a science based Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, preferably  including aspects of ecology/zoology/biology/environmental management. If you have good experience in data analysis, statistics, Geographical Information systems (GIS), you may also be accepted onto the programme.

We may consider unrelated degrees if you have extensive related work experience and your personal statement indicates efforts to gain the necessary ecological and analytical skills required to succeed, for example by taking short courses.

If you intend to apply, please consult the Personal Statement Guidance document (PDF) which includes the CIEEM criteria and be sure to construct your personal statement according to the format specified. Failing to do so will result  in your application being deemed ineligible.

Can I get admission into Wildlife Biology and Conservation based on my working experience in this sector?

This course has academic entry requirements which are assessed alongside relevant work experience. Full details of  any relevant work experience, including references should be submitted with your application and may be considered for entry where the minimum academic entry requirements are below those required.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements. Please contact us with your specific circumstances by submitting an enquiry form above and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.


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.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2023/24 2024/25
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland-Taught modules *£1,050 *£1,105
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland-60credit Dissertation module £620 £650
Overseas and EU-Taught Modules *£2,560 *£2,820
Overseas and EU-60credit Dissertation £1,730 £1,900
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*. The total fee you will pay is dependant upon the exit award you wish to achieve.
The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes. The discount can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount. For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here


What can you do with a wildlife and conservation biology degree?

By studying wildlife and conservation biology at Edinburgh Napier University, you will develop the practical. technical and intellectual knowledge to be able to apply your skills within the field. If you are interested in in conservation, wildlife and the environment, then this might be the right course for you. You will be able to go onto work for a range of different organisations within different sectors, including Government agencies (e.g. Nature Scot, Natural England, British Columbia Fish and Wildlife, Forestry and Land Scotland, US National Parks Service, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Government, Defra, other national governments) · Non-governmental agencies and charities (e.g. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wildlife Trusts, Marine Conservation Society), Private consultancies (e.g. Jacobs, Atkins, Atmos, Echoes Ecology, RPS, LUC) and Worldwide research institutions including universities and research institutes (e.g. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), showing that there are a wide range of opportunities available upon graduation.

You may be likely to work as an ecologist, ecological consultant, wildlife ranger, education officer, conservation project officer, wildlife technician, docotoral researcher, scientific adviser or a species licensing officer, as examples.

Our Alumni also visit regularly to share their work experience and advice with current students and have emphasised the importance of the skills gained from this course in their subsequent success.

Below are just some of the roles you could go into with an MSc in Wildlife and Conservation biology.

What does a conservation project officer do?

As a conservation project officer, you will be responsible for implementing and overseeing conservation projects. You will coordinate activities which are aimed at preserving wildlife and natural habitats, as well as ecosystems. This may include carrying out habitat restoration, biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource management.

You will have strong problem solving and communication skills to work effectively within the field, and will be able to manage conservation plans, field surveys, and collaborate with government, local authorities and stakeholders.

Daily tasks and responsibilities within this role may include:

  • Project planning
  • Conducting fieldwork
  • Report writing
  • Data analysis
  • Community engagement
  • Policy advocacy
  • Environmental education through community engagement

What does an ecological consultant do?

As an ecological consultant, you will be responsible for advising on human activities and development, and how they interact and impact the environment. You will aim to maintain sustainable development and environmental conservation through collaborative problem solving. In this role, you will be expected to be an excellent communicator and team player. You will likely work for the government, local authorities, environmental organisations or within the private sector.

Daily tasks and responsibilities within this role may include:

  • Carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Site Assessments
  • Protected species surveying
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Report Writing
  • Public and Community Engagement

What does a biodiversity officer do?

As a biodiversity officer, you will be responsible for raising awareness of nature conservation and ensuring that regulations and legal requirements relating to biodiversity are adhered to within projects relating to infrastructure developments, for example. You will develop strategies and conduct field surveys in order to promote sustainable practice, meaning strong teamworking and communication skills are required. This is a dynamic role which requires fieldwork, office tasks and community engagement. You will likely work with organisations such as the government, environmental agencies or the private sector.

Daily tasks and responsibilities within this role may include:

  • Biodiversity surveying
  • Conservation planning
  • Education and outreach
  • Policy development
  • Site management
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Many of the types of roles that our graduates go into are listed on the Green Jobs for Nature website and this might give you and idea of the types of careers that you could pursue with your MSc Wildlife Biology & Conservation. 



Students amongst green vegetation learning at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden