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Biodiversity and Conservation MSc (Full time / Part time) 2017 start

  • Overview

    This programme 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.

    Distinct from similar courses offered in the UK, the course concentrates on the biological principles underlying biodiversity, its assessment and management. You’ll learn to identify plants and animals, explore the institutional framework 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.

    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.

    Please note: due to the increased volume of applications we have received this year for both the MRes and MSc, we unfortunately will stop offering places after Friday 31st March 2017.

    If you wish to be considered you must apply by the closing date. Any applications that we receive after the 31st March will be placed on a waiting list.


  • Course content

    The programme offers a wide range of options, allowing for personalised courses of study that lay the groundwork for further academic research or professional development in the field.

    You’ll study core skills modules that provide practical training and exercises in a diverse range of transferable skills applicable to ecological research. These include a residential weekend at Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre in the Yorkshire Dales, fieldwork first aid and risk assessment, public understanding of science, preparing a grant application, biodiversity sampling in Yorkshire and freshwater invertebrate surveys.

    The research component is one of the most important and potentially fulfilling parts of the degree. Projects cover a wide range of topics and usually include around six to eight weeks of practical work. A significant number of students are based overseas for their project.

    If you study part-time, the programme 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, but carry out two major research projects rather than one. Most students taking the MRes are planning to probably go on to do a PhD or have an MSc degree already. Many of our MSc graduates also subsequently do PhDs, but initially prefer to widen their skills base through the additional taught elements that are available. An increasing number of students treat the MSc as a conversion course, after having taken degrees in non-biological subjects.

    Course structure

    These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

    Year 1

    The programmes are made up of modules that add up to 180 credits, with a mix of compulsory and optional modules. Teaching methods include project work, field courses, lectures, practicals, tutorials and workshops.

    Compulsory modules

    • Biodiversity and Conservation Skills I 10 credits
    • Biodiversity and Conservation Skills II 10 credits
    • Biodiversity and Conservation MSc and MRes Summer Project 60 credits

    Optional modules

    • Community Ecology 15 credits
    • Conservation Genetics 15 credits
    • Advanced Statistics 10 credits
    • Habitat Management 10 credits
    • Introduction to GIS Skills for Ecologists 10 credits
    • Population Dynamics 10 credits
    • Biodiversity and Conservation Internships 15 credits
    • Practical Conservation with the National Trust 10 credits
    • Masters Mediterranean Ecology Field Course 15 credits
    • Plant Identification 15 credits
    • Insect Identification Skills 15 credits
    • Conservation Skills 5 credits
    • GIS and Environment 15 credits
    • Environmental Economics and Policy 15 credits

    For more information on typical modules, read Biodiversity and Conservation MSc Full Time in the course catalogue

    For more information on typical modules, read Biodiversity and Conservation MSc Part Time in the course catalogue

    Learning and teaching

    We provide the very best learning resources and academic support and our teaching draws on the University’s world-class research base and highly-qualified professionals from industry, non-governmental organisations and charities.

    You’ll experience wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, 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.

    Research projects

    MSc students carry out one research project. The range of project topics is large and diverse, covering applied, empirical and theoretical subjects. Project areas can be your choice, although they must have scientific merit. Projects have been carried out in over twenty countries so far, and the number increases every year. This year alone we have projects in Belize, the Seychelles, Austria, Portugal and China.

    Practical skills

    There are many opportunities to develop valuable practical skills via modules such as Practical Conservation with the National Trust, Insect Identification, Plant Identification, via overseas field courses within Europe and Africa (see field courses) and through research project work.

    Leeds is one of the best locations geographically for students wishing to study Biodiversity and Conservation. It is 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 whole host of project and fieldwork opportunities.

    Assessment

    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.

  • Applying, fees and funding

    Entry requirements

    A bachelor degree with 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject.

    We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information please contact the Faculty of Biological Sciences Taught Postgraduate Admissions Team.

    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

    If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

    • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
    • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

    Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

    How to apply

    Please note: due to the increased volume of applications we have received this year for both the MRes and MSc, we unfortunately will stop offering places after Friday 31st March 2017.

    If you wish to be considered you must apply by the closing date. Any applications that we receive after the 31st March will be placed on a waiting list.

    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)
    • two academic references
    • evidence of English language qualification (non-native English speakers only)
    • copy of passport (if you’re an overseas student).

    This link 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.


    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

    Faculty of Biological Sciences Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy

    Fees

    UK/EU: £8,000 (total)

    International: £19,750 (total)

    Read more about paying fees and charges.

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

    Part-time fees 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.

    If you choose to study the African Ecology Field Course, you will pay an extra £2,000 in addition to the course fees.


    Additional cost information

    If you choose to study the African Ecology Field Course, you will pay an extra £2,000 in addition to the course fees.

    If you choose to undertake the Mediterranean Field Course there is additional fee of approximately £620.00* in addition to the course fees. There will also be small costs for travel to and from field sites for certain modules. (*Based on 2015 fees)

    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, EU and international students. We consider all eligible applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and excellent personal and professional skills.

    Visit our FBS fees and scholarship page to find out more about the range of scholarships we have to offer.

  • Career opportunities

    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 are also trying to produce well-rounded graduates who have the skills, experience and confidence to succeed in a challenging job market.

    Specialist and transferable skills are key component of our degrees, opening up diverse opportunities for our graduates. A proportion of both MSc and MRes graduates go on to study for a PhD and enter a research career. Many graduates go on to a career in an 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.

    The course has strong links with potential employers, including Natural England, the National Trust, conservation bodies and commercial ecological consultancies, both local and national. These employers contribute directly to teaching on a number of our modules, providing key practical training and invaluable networking opportunities.

    The course has strong links with Natural England, which provides staff to teach on certain modules. We also have strong ties with commercial ecological consultancies locally and nationally, providing students for us to train as well as recruiting graduates.

    Graduate Destinations

    All of the following organisations have recruited employees from our biodiversity and conservation Masters:

    • ARKive
    • Bradford Metropolitan District Council
    • Chester Zoo
    • Natural England
    • Exmoor National Park
    • Forestry Commission
    • Frontier
    • IUCN (International Union for the
    • Conservation of Nature)
    • Leeds City Council
    • Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, Florida
    • The Environment Agency
    • The National Trust
    • The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
    • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
    • The Society for Environmental Exploration
    Professional and career development

    We take personal and 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 programmes.

    The Faculty’s Employability and Professional Development Officer ensures 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 ledcareer events. We also have regular research seminars presented by leading academics from around the world on their specialist subjects.

    Further study

    A substantial proportion of our graduates undertake further study at Leeds or elsewhere. Recent graduates have gone on to:

    • PhD positions in the UK, USA and overseas eg at the Max Planck Institute, Germany
    • research post at Harvard School of Public Health, Botswana.

    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.

  • Placement opportunities

    Work placements

    The Biodiversity and conservation internships module allows you to undertake a sandwich year, providing a 12-month period of work experience in the middle of your programme. You’ll arrange your own internship (normally either one 12-month placement or two 6-month placements), which should be relevant to your degree scheme. Typical internship venues include conservation organisations, statutory agencies, consultancies, research centres and nature reserves.

  • Field courses

    Invaluable practical skils

    We see great value in the learning opportunities offered by practical field courses and offer two optional field courses in African Ecology and Mediterranean Ecology as part of the course. Both courses run in the Easter vacation and, along with the research project, are often one of the highlights of the programme for many students. As both courses run at Easter, students choose just one of the two locations.

    African Ecology

    The African field course is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. It provides 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, most of the time is spent designing and carrying out group research projects. Project reports are produced on return to the UK. Additionally, short presentations about key topics in the ecology and conservation of savannas will be given by students, but where possible we also ask resident researchers to provide guest lectures. These are always fascinating accounts of the science being undertaken at Mpala.

    Mediterranean Field Course

    The Mediterranean Field Course takes students down to southern Spain to experience an entirely different ecological landscape. Andalucia is among the most arid areas in Europe, with a flora and fauna that are very different to those of the UK.

    In addition to projects on the unique plant communities that thrive in the gypsum soils, and the diverse array of pollinators, butterflies, beetles, and scorpions that are abundant on the site, students also have the opportunity to carry out projects on the migratory birds that use the area as a pathway from Africa back to summer breeding grounds in Europe, the wild boar that roam the abandoned farm on which the field station is based, the bats that roost in the nearby gypsum caves, and the lizards that bask on the rocky outcrops throughout the site.

    Ahead of the visit, students work in small groups to develop a research topic in collaboration with a member of staff, and produce individual literature reviews. The research work is then carried out in groups during the field course, making use of the range of habitats and taxa available on the site.

    The course also has opportunities for visits to a nearby coastal town and the local cave system. The field course ends with team seminars, and back in the UK short research papers are produced by individual students.

    Specialist Field Work

    We also offer a range of fieldwork within our Leeds-based modules. The course starts with an introductory residential weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, and throughout the year a number of modules are largely field-based. For example, Practical Conservation with the National Trust involves five days in the Yorkshire Dales working with Trust staff, while the Practical Conservation Skills module offers several different options including bird mist-netting and small mammal trapping.

    Not only are field courses highly enjoyable, but you will benefit from:

    • applying university-learnt techniques in real life situations
    • individual and team working
    • high staff/student ratios
    • tutor support on location
    • first-hand experience of collecting and analysing data
    • opportunities to develop individual research skills
    • skills development valued by employers after graduation
    • a chance to get to know staff and fellow students even better.

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