MSc Wildlife Biology and Conservation

Postgraduate, Part-time

Wildlife Biology and Conservation MSc



Our course is the first course in Scotland to be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Overview

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 the first and only degree in Scotland to be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

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

Students at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens

Mode of Study:

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

Duration:

3-4 years

Start date:

SepJan


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Course details

This course has been designed in conjunction with employers and professional bodies. The main focus is on the development of practical employability skills. In recognition of the strong practical and employability focus, this is the first and only degree in Scotland to be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), meaning you'll graduate with an accredited MSc.

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), problem solving, research and team working

Field course

You’ll need to be available to participate in 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.

Lead academics and short bio 

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

  • Patrick White  (population dynamics, habitat utilisation, GIS, birds) 
  • Jason Gilchrist (behavioural ecology and biodiversity) 
  • Rob Briers (conservation planning, GIS and aquatic ecology)
  • Jay Mackinnon (botany, environmental education, social research)
  • Gavin Ballantyne (pollination ecology) 
  • Paul Ward (population and habitat modelling).  
  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    The course is studied part-time and takes up to 4 years. It takes 3 academic years to complete the taught modules (PGDip) and then another 2 trimester to complete the research project. 

    The academic year is split into 3 trimesters with taught modules running in tri 1 (Sept-Dec) and tri 2 (Jan – April) only. 

    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, the standard rate is to take 20 credits per trimester with the result that it will take you three years to complete the 120 taught credits.

    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. You'll have two trimesters in which to complete this research project. This may include trimester 3 (May-Aug) which does not otherwise require any study while you are completing the taught components. These ‘free’ summers are a good opportunity to get involved in conservation projects locally and build your networks.


  • note and pen Assessments

    There are no traditional centrally timetabled exams. Instead you will work on a variety of relevant professional tasks, both written and oral.

    Assessments include a development proposal for a brown field site, a zoning document, a site management critique and several data driven reports. Taxonomic identification and statistical analysis are key skills. In addition, you will lead a guided tour and present a research proposal pitch. 

  • library Facilities

    We are based at the Sighthill Campus where we enjoy excellent well equipped laboratory and IT facilities. In addition, the good transport network around the city allows us to visit and study a range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats within easy reach of the campus.

Modules

Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Field and Laboratory Skills ( ENV11108 )

A series of practical sessions in the field and lab will be followed by a residential field course during which students will conduct (under supervision) sampling/monitoring in terrestrial and aquatic habitats 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 and environmental education. Aspects of urban ecology, community engagement and social research in conservation, relate directly to the challenges of land management in an urban setting which forms one of the assessments. Agricultural ecology and examples of human-wildlife conflict around the world are also studied in relation to wildlife law and economics. The Yellowstone National Park reintroduction of wolves acts as a 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

* 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.

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Entry requirements

Entry requirements

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.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by 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’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 2018/19 2019/20
Home/EU-Taught modules *£890 tba
Home/EU-Dissertation module £530 tba
Overseas Taught Modules *£1,950 tba
Overseas Dissertation £1,300 tba


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

Careers

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.

Jobs include:

  • Ecologist
  • Wildlife ranger
  • Education officer
  • Conservation project officer
  • Wildlife Technician
  • Species licensing officer

Our network of alumni have developed  careers with organisations such as:

Students learning at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden