Biodiversity and Conservation with African Field Course MSc

Year of entry

Postgraduate Virtual Open Day

Wednesday 15 February. Find out more

Start date
September 2022
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£13,500 (total)
International fees
£26,250 (total)

Course overview

This image was taken by one of our Masters students on the African field course. It is a picture of 5 zebras standing in a grassy field under a blue sky. There are trees in the background.

Are you ready to make your impact on biodiversity?

The University of Leeds has twice been recognised by the European Union as a "centre of excellence" for biodiversity and conservation training.

We believe biodiversity can only be managed and conserved when it can be measured and interpreted properly. Our leading researchers are making an impact through their dedicated research within the field of ecology and conservation. Your learning will be heavily influenced by their world-leading research, which drives national and international policy agendas around environmental change and global sustainability.

This distinctive course concentrates on the biological principles underlying biodiversity, its assessment and management. You’ll learn to identify plants and animals, understand the ecological factors underlying biodiversity and conservation and gain key analytical and practical skills for a range of academic and professional careers. You’ll also gain valuable experience in biodiversity and conservation-related research.

You’ll also undertake the African field course is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. You’ll gain a first-hand appreciation of the ecology and conservation concerns of an African savannah community, both for the wildlife and the people who live in the area. As well as learning about the local environment, flora and fauna, you’ll spend most of the time designing and carrying out group research projects.

This course is designed to prepare you for a career in conservation, or for further research at PhD level. If you’re already an established conservation professional, our modules provide additional skills to support you to progress in your employment.

Course details

This flexible course will offer you a wide variety of options, allowing you to personalise your study in preparation for further academic research or professional development in the field.

Our mixture of academic and practical subjects will equip you with the diverse set of skills needed for ecological careers and further research. This course combines theory-based modules on the principles of ecology and conservation with a wide range of practical skills-based modules. These include: survey management and identification skills, where the emphasis is on spending time in the field, and analytical skills such as statistics and GIS.

The independent research project is one of the most important parts of the degree. Projects cover a wide range of topics and usually include around six to eight weeks of practical work. A number of our students have been based overseas for their project.

If you study part time, the course will last for two years and you’ll study around half of the total number of modules each year.

MSc or MRes – what’s the difference?

MRes students have fewer taught modules and carry out two major research projects rather than one. The MSc is the broader course, suitable for both conservation careers and PhD study, while most students taking the MRes are planning to go on to do a PhD. The MSc allows students to widen their skills base through the additional taught elements that are available. A number of students treat the MSc as a conversion course, after having taken degrees in non-biological subjects, while the MRes is not suitable as a conversion course.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Biodiversity and Conservation with African Field Course MSc Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Biodiversity and Conservation with African Field Course MSc Part Time in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
African Field Ecology 20
Biodiversity and Conservation MSc and MRes Summer Project 60
Biodiversity and Conservation Skills 15

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Community Ecology 15
Conservation Genetics 15
Advanced Statistics 10
Introduction to GIS 15
Practical Conservation with the National Trust 10
Plant Identification 15
Insect Identification Skills 15
Conservation Skills 5
Population Dynamics 15
Habitat Management 15
GIS and Environment 15
Global Change Ecology 15
Environmental Economics and Policy 15
Environmental Policy and Governance 15
Climate Change: Physical Science Basis 15

Learning and teaching

Your learning will be heavily influenced by the University’s world-leading research as well as our strong links with highly qualified professionals from industry, non-governmental organisations and charities. Potential employers including Natural England, the National Trust, conservation bodies and commercial ecological consultancies, contribute directly to teaching on a number of our modules. This provides key practical training and invaluable networking opportunities such as the five-day residential trip to the Yorkshire Dales with the National Trust.

You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including: formal lectures, interactive workshops, field trips, problem-solving, practical classes and demonstrations.

Through your research project and biodiversity and conservation modules, you’ll receive substantial subject-specific training. Our teaching and assessment methods are designed to develop you into a professional who is able to think independently, solve problems, communicate effectively and demonstrate a high level of practical ability.

Throughout your time at Leeds, you will have access to the very best learning resources and academic support during your studies.

Research projects

As an MSc student, you’ll carry out one research project designed to equip you with key practical and analytical skills and with an emphasis on practical learning. The range of project topics is large and diverse, covering applied, empirical and theoretical subjects. Projects can be carried out in the UK or overseas: projects have been carried out in over twenty countries so far, which in the last few years have included Spain, Cyprus, Belize, Malawi, Thailand, Japan and Kyrgyzstan.

Practical skills

There are many opportunities to develop valuable practical skills through modules such as Conservation Skills, Insect Identification, Plant Identification, and the African field course and research project work. You can also build your analytical skills, with modules in GIS and statistics.

Leeds is one of the best locations geographically to study biodiversity and conservation. You’ll be within easy reach of three areas of great natural beauty and dramatic scenery; Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and the Peak District – providing you with a wide range of project and fieldwork opportunities.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We use a variety of assessment methods: practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, computer-based simulation, essays, posters and oral presentations.


Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2:1 in a relevant subject.

Application Deadline: 31 March 2022

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Documents and information you’ll need

  • completed online application form (for Taught Postgraduate Study)

  • completed supporting statement

  • full CV

  • transcript of degree examination marks achieved to date

  • copy of final degree certificate (if completed)

  • evidence of English language qualification (non-native English speakers only)

  • copy of passport (if you’re an overseas student).

Find out more about how to apply

The link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Next steps

  • we process your application

  • we inform you of our decision

  • if we make you an offer, you respond by accepting, declining or deferring

Taught postgraduate confirmation

Taught postgraduate applicants are required to submit their results for consideration as soon as possible. Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK are recommended to submit their results no later than 31 July, although they will still be considered if submitted after this date.


It is standard procedure to interview applicants, prior to making a decision on their application, for MRes Neuroscience, MSc Biopharmaceutical Development (Industrial) and MSc Sport and Exercise Medicine. Interviews do not form part of the standard admissions process for other programmes in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2023

This course is taught by

Faculty of Biological Sciences

Contact us

Faculty of Biological Sciences postgraduate taught admissions team



UK: £13,500 (total)

International: £26,250 (total)

Part-time fees for this course are split 50:50. For example the full-time course fee is split over the two years of study. You will pay half of the course fees in a year one and the half again in your second year.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Scholarships for Faculty of Biological Sciences students

We award a generous range of scholarships to UK and international students. We consider all eligible applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and excellent personal and professional skills. Find out more about the range of scholarships we have to offer.

Government-backed loan = Up to £11,222. Find out more.

Alumni bursary = If you are a former student of the University of Leeds you may be eligible for a 10% alumni tuition fee bursary

You can also search our postgraduate scholarships database or you can also find information on MoneySavingExpert

Career opportunities

We take both your personal and your career development very seriously. We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board who advises us on what they look for in graduates and on employability related skills within our courses.

Our graduates have gone on to a very varied range of biodiversity and conservation jobs and careers around the world. We know that the subject knowledge and training we provide is excellent, but we’re also trying to produce well-rounded graduates who have the skills, experience and confidence to succeed in a challenging job market.

The balance we create between theoretical and practical components in conservation offers you the opportunity to develop specialist and transferable skills on our degrees that go beyond a Masters and open up diverse opportunities when you graduate. As with many of our MSc and MRes graduates, you could go on to study for a PhD and enter a research career. You could also go on to a career in applied ecology or conservation-related area. Potential employers look for academic qualifications in combination with practical skills and experience, and a relevant MSc course can give you the edge in a highly competitive field.

Our dedicated employability and professional development officer will ensure that you are aware of events and opportunities to increase your employability. In addition, our Masters career development programme will support you to:

  • explore career options and career planning

  • understand the PhD application process and optimise PhD application

  • learn how to use LinkedIn and other social media for effective networking and career opportunities

  • practice interviews for both job and PhD applications.

You will also have access to seminars and presentations from industry professionals (including our alumni) at faculty-led career events. We also have regular research seminars presented by leading academics from around the world on their specialist subjects.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Field courses

Invaluable practical skills

We see great value in the learning opportunities offered by practical field courses. We offer two optional field courses in African ecology and Mediterranean ecology as part of the degree; this programme version includes the African ecology course, if you wish to take the Mediterranean field course instead, you should apply for our ‘MSc Biodiversity and Conservation’ course. Both courses run in the Easter vacation and, along with the research project, are one of the highlights of the degree for many students.

African ecology field course

The African field course is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. You’ll gain a first-hand appreciation of the ecology and conservation concerns of an African savannah community, both for the wildlife and the people who live in the area. As well as learning about the local environment, flora and fauna, and field safety procedures, you’ll spend most of the time designing and carrying out group research projects. You’ll produce project reports when you return to the UK. You’ll also give short presentations about key topics in the ecology and conservation of savannahs, and where possible resident researchers will also provide guest lectures. These are always fascinating accounts of the science being undertaken at Mpala.

Specialist field work

We also offer a range of fieldwork within our Leeds-based modules, giving you the opportunity to investigate ecology in a variety of landscapes. Your degree starts with an introductory residential weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, and throughout the year a number of modules are largely field-based. For example, habitat management and plant identification involve field trips to a range of different habitats, while the conservation skills module offers several different options.