The understanding of plant diversity and resources has never been more important. As we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, effective environmental surveillance and conservation depend upon detailed knowledge of plants and their habitats.
This programme is run jointly by the University and the world-renowned Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The RBGE is home to one of the world’s best living collections of plants (15,000 species across four sites, amounting to five per cent of known world species), a herbarium of three million preserved specimens and one of the UK’s most comprehensive botanical libraries.
RBGE offers collections-based biodiversity research opportunities across a wide spectrum of organisms and geographical regions. This diversity, coupled with the RBGE’s world-leading research in different continents, provides an unrivalled masters programme in plant biodiversity.
This programme is full time and consists of two semesters of lectures, workshops and investigations, followed by a four-month research project.
The programme can also be taken on a part-time basis over two years. Part-time students can opt either to take 60 credits of taught courses in the first year of study, followed by the remaining 60 credits of taught courses and the four-month research project in the second year of study, or all taught courses in the first year followed by the four-month research project in the second year of study.
The programme is delivered mainly at RBGE but also at the University’s King’s Buildings campus.
Compulsory courses (full-time study)
You must take these courses:
Tropical Biodiversity Field Course (Semester 2)
Conservation and Sustainability (Semester 2)
Biodiversity of Angiosperms
Plant Geography (Semester 2)
Project and Dissertation (Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants) (Semester 2)
Taxonomy & Plant Collections (Semester 1)
Evolution of Plants (Semester 1)
Evolution & Biodiversity of Cryptogams
Phylogenetics and Population Genetics
Plant Genome Diversity (Semester 2)
Your research project will be chosen in consultation with your supervisor and will link directly with active research programmes at RBGE or other research institutions.
The programme is good preparation for roles in taxonomy, while many graduates have also continued to PhD studies. Past students have entered a wide variety of jobs at research institutions, conservation agencies and elsewhere.
The programme can also be taken on a part-time basis over two years.
Part-time students wishing to take 60 credits of taught courses in the first year of study, followed by the remaining 60 credits of taught courses and the four-month research project in the second year of study should apply for the MSc Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants (60/120 credits) - 2 Years (Part-time).
Part-time students wishing to take all taught courses in the first year followed by the four-month research project in the second year of study should apply for the MSc Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants (120/60 credits) - 2 Years (Part-time).
Please note that part-time tuition fees vary depending on the number of credits taken per year.
If you are interested in part-time study but unsure which part-time route to apply for, you are encouraged to contact the Programme Director to discuss both options prior to submitting an application. It is possible to transfer between part-time routes prior to the commencement of study.
A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological, horticultural, or environmental science.
Relevant work experience is desirable (for example, any prior activities that would prepare you for the programme, such as: attending workshops or short courses, collecting trips, plant-related previous jobs, the publication of papers etc).
Other degrees will be considered on an individual basis, provided that a keen interest in plants can be demonstrated.
English language requirements
You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.
English language tests
For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:
IELTS Academic: a total of 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
Degrees taught and assessed in English
We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:
We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.
If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.