Biodiversity and Conservation MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
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
£13,750 (Total)
International fees
£31,000 (Total)

Course overview

This image shows a frog sitting on a rock. The frog is yellow and black.

Are you ready to make your impact on biodiversity?

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

Understanding how to conserve biodiversity has never been more important. We believe biodiversity can only be effectively managed and conserved when it can be assessed 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 course is designed to prepare you for a career in ecology or 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.

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 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 MSc Part Time in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Research Skills and Data Analysis 15
Masters Research Project 60

Learning and teaching

Your learning will be heavily influenced by the University’s world-class 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 fieldwork in 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 taught 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 a 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 Insect Identification, Plant Identification, the Mediterranean 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; the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and 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.

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. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

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 ‘Apply’ 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 or declining.

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, MRes Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, 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.

International application deadline: July 31 2024

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 Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

Faculty of Biological Sciences

Contact us

Faculty of Biological Sciences postgraduate taught admissions team



UK: £13,750 (Total)

International: £31,000 (Total)

If you wish to study the African Ecology Field Course, you will need to apply for the ‘with African Field Course programme, which has a higher fee to cover the field course costs.

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

If you choose to undertake the Mediterranean Field Course there is additional fee of approximately £700.00* in addition to the course fees. There will also be small costs for travel to and from field sites for certain modules. (*Based on 2017 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 on our living costs and budgeting page.

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

The Faculty of Biological Sciences offers a number of Masters scholarships to support and reward students from the UK and around the world. Don’t miss out on available support, visit our dedicated faculty scholarship page to check your eligibility.

Government-backed loan = If you are ordinarily resident in England or the Republic of Ireland and planning to start your first full-time, part-time or distance learning taught or research Masters course from September 2023 you may be eligible to apply for a UK government Postgraduate Masters Loan to help towards your study-related costs. 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 advise 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 offer 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 graduates, you could go on to study for a PhD and enter a research career. You could also 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 Masters course can give you the edge in a highly competitive field.

Our dedicated employability and opportunity team 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 about Careers support.

Field courses

Invaluable practical skills

We see great value in the learning opportunities offered by practical fieldwork. We offer several modules that are largely taught by field visits to a range of local habitats. We also offer two optional field courses in African ecology and Mediterranean ecology as part of the degree; if you wish to take the African ecology field course, you should apply for the ‘with African field course’ programme. Both field courses run in the Easter vacation and, along with the research project, are one of the highlights of the degree for many students.

Mediterranean field course

The Mediterranean field course takes you 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.

You’ll carry out 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. You’ll also have the opportunity to study 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, you’ll work in small groups to develop a research topic in collaboration with a member of staff, and produce individual literature reviews. You’ll then carry out research work in your groups during the field course, making use of the range of habitats and taxa available on the site.

The course also gives you the opportunity to visit a nearby coastal town and the local cave system. The field course ends with team seminars on your project.

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 of an African savannah ecosystem, from the perspective of both 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 a group research project. You’ll produce a project report when you return to the UK, and also give short presentations about key topics in the ecology and conservation of savannahs. Where possible resident researchers at Mpala will also provide guest lectures, which are always fascinating accounts of the science being undertaken there.

Specialist fieldwork

We also offer a range of fieldwork within our Leeds-based modules, giving you the opportunity to investigate ecology in a variety of landscapes. 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 around Leeds.

Student profile: Yarui Huang

This program has diverse teaching methods, like lecture, lab session, field trip and computer session. With the help of various teaching ways, I can apply my theoretical knowledge into practice.
Find out more about Yarui Huang's time at Leeds