MSc Conservation Biology

General

Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

With climate change and environmental damage at record levels, there’s never been a greater need for conservation biologists. This master will give you the vital skills to play your part in one of the key issues of our times.

The world’s habitats are undergoing rapid transformation. The impacts of climate change are causing species extinction at an unprecedented rate. Conservation biology as a discipline looks at the science behind these changes – including the identification of ecosystems at risk, ways of conserving biodiversity, and the role of genetics and demography.

With our masters, you’ll tackle all that and more, gaining the knowledge and skills for a career at the forefront of conservation. You’ll explore the scientific background to species conservation and the factors driving extinction. You’ll also look at the sustainable use of resources and learn valuable statistical techniques for analysing ecological data. With a range of option units, you’ll be able to specialise in areas like species recovery and behavioural biology.

But this programme is as much about practice as it is about theory. While the core units include a field course to Poland, Ecuador or East Africa, your master's project also has a practical focus, demanding in-depth research before you present your findings.

Throughout it all, you’ll be supported by experienced academics, who’ll bring their real-world expertise direct to the classroom as you prepare to make your own way in the world of conservation. And with the international focus of this degree, it’s a career journey that could take you literally anywhere.

Non-means-tested loans of up to a maximum of £10,000 will be available to postgraduate masters students

Features and Benefits

  • Excellent facilities – Study in the specialist surroundings of our John Dalton building, which is equipped with high-spec teaching and research facilities for molecular biology, genetics and more.
  • Research in Africa – Spend up to six weeks at one of our research bases in Tanzania or Kenya, collecting data for your own research project.
  • Overseas field courses – Gain valuable practical experience in ecological and data collection techniques in Poland, Ecuador or East Africa, where you could visit some of the most famous wildlife sites in the world, including the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park.
  • Flexible learning – Make time for research, lab work and independent studies, thanks to a flexible programme that includes evening lectures, all backed up by our online learning platform, Moodle.
  • Expert teaching – Learn from a vibrant community of teaching staff, who can bring extensive experience of field research into the classroom to shape your studies.
  • Policy focus – Work with researchers who help to establish UK ecosystem air pollution critical loads for biodiversity and who apply scientific knowledge to habitat conservation and restoration.
  • Conservation biology expertise – We’re aligned with the Ecology and Environment Research Centre as well as the Conservation, Evolution and Behaviour, and Soils, Plants and Ecosystems research groups.
  • Strong links – We have research links with conservation projects overseas, including Europe, Africa, the Philippines, Mauritius, Indonesia and South America.

Course Information

You'll study a range of units – including your field course and your dissertation project. You’ll start off with core units exploring areas like biodiversity conservation, statistical research and sustainability.

It’s also a programme with the flexibility to delve into the specialist areas that interest you most, including option units like Behavioural Biology, Species Recovery, and Avian Biology and Conservation.

You’ll take a field course unit, travelling to Poland, East Africa or Ecuador, while your final masters-level dissertation project could also involve international travel for gathering data and conducting research.

Course delivery is flexible and most lectures take place in the evening. Lectures, other course materials and assessment information is available via our online learning platform, Moodle. You will be assessed mostly through coursework, although some units have a formal examination.

Student Research Projects

You will be able to stay for six weeks at one of our research bases in Tanzania or Kenya and collect data for your own research project.

You can also join our two-week Tanzania Field Course, which takes place in June every year. There are visits to some of the most famous wildlife sites in the world, including the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. We study some of the human impacts on, and management issues in, these protected areas as well as some of the factors affecting group size and mating systems of large mammals.

We are currently undertaking a number of research studies on:

  • The ecology and genetics of the black rhino to try to understand why their breeding rates are very low in some Kenyan reserves.
  • The distribution of crop-raiding by elephants and strategies for reducing predator attacks on livestock.
  • The impact of pastoralism and other habitat changes on animal behaviour and biodiversity conservation.

Year 1

Core units

  • Statistics and Research Design
  • Masters Project in Conservation
  • Practical Techniques and Analysis
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Field Course
  • Topics in Conservation and Sustainability
  • Topics in Organismal Genetics

Option Units

  • Behavioural Biology
  • Species Recovery
  • Avian Biology and Conservation
  • Earth Observation and GIS
  • Monitoring Habitat and Species Responses to Environmental Change

Additional information about this course

Students are expected to comply with the Schools codes of conduct and behaviour on field courses, placements and exchanges. Placements and study exchange opportunities are dependent on passing each stage at the first opportunity and being of good standing.

Study and assessment breakdown

10 credits equate to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A Masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:

Study

  • Full-time 50% lectures, seminars or similar; 0% placement; 50% independent study
  • Part-time 50% lectures, seminars or similar; 0% placement; 50% independent study

Assessment

  • Full-time 90% coursework; 0% practical; 10% examination
  • Part-time 90% coursework; 0% practical; 10% examination

Entry requirements

You’ll need a good UK honours degree – normally a 2:1 – or the international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as ecology, biology, zoology, botany, animal behaviour or environmental science. We might also consider your application if you have several years’ professional experience in a related field.

International students please see mmu.ac.uk/international

English Language Requirements

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification.

Applicants from the Commonwealth countries may be eligible to apply for the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU Students

  • Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
  • Part-time fee: £1,542 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island Students

  • Full-time fee: £17,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
  • Part-time fee: £2,834 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Costs

Specialist costs

  • Optional estimate: £500

Students often choose to buy a laptop for their degree (costing approximately £300 to £400) and a printer (costing £50 to £100 including print consumables) but there are numerous drop-in computer facilities across campus and laptops for a loan in the library. Lab coats and safety glasses are provided free of charge and expected to last for the duration of the course. Students will have to purchase replacements for lost or damaged PPE.

Other costs

  • Compulsory estimate: £150
  • Optional estimate: £2,500

Manchester Metropolitan University now provides free travel insurance for students when they travel in connection with their programme of study, for example, placements, field trips, exchanges etc. However, students should also take out personal insurance cover for belongings as items such as mobile phones are not covered by this policy. Our courses have field-based elements of delivery so students would be expected to dress appropriately (i.e. purchase waterproof coats and trousers, sturdy footwear/walking boots). Students will be expected to print out assessments (including dissertations (with binding) and posters). 

Travel expenses associated with independent data collection for final year dissertations are not reimbursed by the School. Students will be advised to undertake low-cost local fieldwork at the design and planning stages of a project if necessary. We currently offer the opportunity, subject to demand, of carrying out project fieldwork in Kenya or Tanzania, if available this would carry and additional cost of between £1,800 - £2,500, depending upon whether taken in conjunction with the residential optional Tanzania based field course.

Career Prospects

This is a course that can open a wide range of career paths and professional possibilities, providing a route into animal management, pest control, teaching, environmental education and more. While it provides the skills and understanding you’ll need to take your first steps in this area, it’s also a valuable option if you’re already in a relevant role – with many students taking our masters courses as part of their professional development.

You’ll have careers support from the moment you join us, and for up to three years after you’ve finished our course. We have a variety of services to help you take the next step, from dedicated employability advisors to careers fairs and networking events.

By the time you leave us, you should be equipped to pursue a career with organisations like environmental consultancies, government research and advisory bodies, zoos and NGOs, or to continue your studies onto PhD level.

Last updated Aug 2020

About the School

Manchester Metropolitan University is home to a diverse international student population from more than 130 countries. The University is ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities under 50 years ... Read More

Manchester Metropolitan University is home to a diverse international student population from more than 130 countries. The University is ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities under 50 years old, which is a measure of its commitment to delivering and supporting quality research and teaching. Manchester Metropolitan provides its students with regular employability events including advice workshops, industry networking, guest speakers and careers fairs. The University also has industry links with many global companies, including IBM, Bentley Motors, Bosch, Microsoft, Nike, Adidas, Manchester City Football Club and Walt Disney. A range of scholarships exclusive to international students is also available, up to the value of £5,000. Read less