Turn your passion for animals into a career in conservation, with a practically-focused master supported by Chester Zoo.
Zoos play a crucial role in animal conservation. Whether they’re carrying out important research into animal behaviour, taking part in breeding programmes, educating the public or advising policymakers, they are crucial players in international conservation.
Study our masters in Zoo Conservation Biology and you can play your part too, as you develop expertise in the science which underpins the management and maintenance of captive populations and explore the links with species conservation on a worldwide scale.
The main core unit is Zoo Conservation, which we deliver with the help of our partners at Chester Zoo – giving you access to the zoo’s collections and facilities. Within the programme, you can participate in a field course in Poland, Ecuador or East Africa or apply for a three-month work placement at a zoo or aquarium. Other core units, delivered at our Manchester campus, include practical techniques and analysis, statistics and research design and organismal genetics. Amongst a wide range of option units, you’ll also have the chance to specialise in subjects like species recovery and behavioural biology.
This all then feeds back into your master’s research project, where you’ll combine your own data collection with background research and data analysis, and communicate your findings in a comprehensive dissertation.
It’s a degree that takes a strong numerical and research-orientated approach backed up with essential practical skills. As such, you’ll leave us with a valuable range of professional tools to help you succeed in this rewarding area.
Features and Benefits
- Learn on-location at Chester Zoo. Part of the course (the ‘Zoo Conservation unit’) is delivered in association with the North of England Zoological Society at Chester Zoo, giving you key access to the zoo’s collections and facilities. This theory unit is taught by specialists at the zoo and our own staff over an intensive two week period. Three-month work placements can be carried out at an accredited zoo or similar institution in the UK or overseas.
- We've invested heavily over the last decade, including high specification teaching and research facilities for molecular biology, population genetics, animal behaviour and physiology.
- Our research makes an impact on policy and the management of biodiversity. We apply scientific knowledge to habitat conservation and restoration, species management and community-based conservation. Our expertise in conservation biology is aligned with the University's Ecology and Environment Research Centre.
- Incredible international opportunities. If you opt for one of our field courses you can 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, the Serengeti National Park, the Amazonian forest and the last primaeval forest in Europe (Białowieźa).
- Gain practical experience in a work placement. You can apply to spend three months at an accredited zoo or aquarium in the UK, with the possibility to also carry out your research project there.
- 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.
Whether you study full or part-time, you’ll cover a total of 6 core units – including your work placement or field course and your dissertation project. The core units explore areas such as Zoo Conservation, Statistics and Research Design and Organismal Genetics.
If you accept an offer of a place, you will be automatically enrolled for the core units. At the course induction, we can advise you on the best choice of optional units to support your particular interests and balance your workload across the year (or two if you are part-time). The specialist option areas include Behavioural Biology, Species Recovery, Topics in Conservation and Sustainability, Earth Observation and GIS and Avian Biology and Conservation.
You’ll either do a three-month work placement at a zoo or aquarium in the UK or a field course in Poland, East Africa or Ecuador. Your final masters-level project could also involve research overseas. If you apply for a work placement and are successful, you may be able to carry out your research project at the same institution, almost doubling your time there.
Student research projects
Many students will carry out their research project at a zoo, aquarium or similar institution. The projects are often directly aligned with staff research projects and/or may be suggested by the host institutions. They may cover aspects of animal welfare, ecology, behaviour, genetics, anatomy and physiology.
There may also be the possibility of carrying out your project overseas, for example, we are currently working with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Mount Kenya Game Ranch on the captive management and reintroduction of the critically endangered mountain bongo. A number of students have also been working on captive bear welfare and management in Cambodia.
- Zoo Conservation*
- Statistics and Research Design
- Practical Techniques and Analysis
- Topics in Organismal Genetics
- Field Course OR Placement
- Masters Project in Zoo Conservation
*The Zoo Conservation unit is taught during the day over a period of two weeks, usually in February. Most of the days are spent at Chester Zoo (transport provided from our main site) with other lectures/seminars and visits provided by Manchester Met staff. Other course units are taught in the evenings.
- Topics in Conservation and Sustainability
- Behavioural Biology
- Species Recovery
- Avian Biology and Conservation
- Earth Observation and GIS
Additional information about this course
Students are expected to comply with the Schools codes of conduct and behaviour on field courses, placements and exchanges.
As part of this course, there is also a three-month work placement which can take place at any zoo in the UK or overseas. Some institutions such as Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari Park regularly offer a small number of placements which students can apply for and they may be invited for an interview.
We can also help you to apply to various other institutions and advise you on the suitability of placements which you arrange yourself. Please note, we cannot guarantee a placement at a specific institution. Placements usually take place from April onwards and there may be financial implications if you have to travel to, or even take up accommodation near the placement site.
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:
- Full-time 45% lectures, seminars or similar; 5% placement; 50% independent study
- Part-time 45% lectures, seminars or similar; 5% placement; 50% independent study
- Full-time 90% coursework; 0% practical; 10% examination
- Part-time 90% coursework; 0% practical; 10% examination
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.
Fees and Funding
UK and EU Students
- Full-time fee: £9,500 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: £1,584 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: £17,500 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: £2,917 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).
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).
- 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.
- Compulsory estimate: £2,300
- Optional estimate: 300-£2,500
Students have a choice of two core residential field trips associated with their course. These are subsidised but students can expect to pay a contribution to costs of approx. £250 for European (currently Poland) based field course and £2500 for Tanzania based field course. For the field course to East Africa, additional costs may incurred if inoculations are required (approximately £200-300).
- Compulsory estimate: £150
- Optional estimate: £2,300
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 - £2,300, depending upon whether taken in conjunction with the residential optional Tanzania based field course.
This is a course that can pave the way to a wide range of career paths and professional possibilities, providing a route into animal management within captive populations.
By the time you leave us, you should be equipped to pursue animal management, research, advisory and educational roles with a wide range of organisations, from zoos to environmental consultancies, and government research bodies to NGOs. You might also decide to continue your studies onto PhD level.
Careers support is available from the moment you join us, and for up to three years after you finish your course. Dedicated careers and employability advisors in the Department of Natural Sciences and the Environment and the University Careers Service will help you find the role that’s right for you.
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