M.Sc. Conservation Ecology

Oxford Brookes University | Oxford , United Kingdom
This course aims to provide postgraduate training in appropriate field skills, including identification abilities, knowledge of wildlife legislation, planning law and environmental policy, a basic knowledge of IT, particularly Geographical Information Systems GIS.



Conserving biodiversity is critically important and conservation and biodiversity assessment now have a strong legislative background with targets for the maintenance and enhancement of habitats and species.

This course is designed to develop your professional and field skills, including identification and survey techniques, required for effective conservation. It is also designed to familiarise you with the key ecological concepts underlying evidence-based conservation. You will produce professional reports and assessments and undertake monitoring of species and communities. You will also gain additional skills, essential for conservation practitioners, for example:

  • knowledge of wildlife legislation, planning law and environmental policy
  • IT competencies, particularly Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • an understanding of the ecological requirements of different species and the implications of environmental change
  • an ability to statistically interpret field data.

Why Brookes?

  • Our lecturers conduct first-class research in conservation ecology as reflected, in the UK government's latest assessment.
  • We have great links with many conservation organisations and research institutions such as the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, providing excellent project opportunities and enhancing career prospects.
  • Focusing on the practical application of theory means graduates can adapt quickly to the demands of the conservation industry. For example, we develop your field skills such as identification techniques, required when undertaking biodiversity surveys.
  • Research-informed teaching keeps our students up-to-date with the latest thinking. For example, equipping you with current conservation legislation and practice is essential in the context of rapidly-changing demands on land use.
  • We develop your transferable skills, particularly communication, organisation and research planning, which will assist you when carrying out your project and prepare you for a career in conservation ecology.
  • On successful completion of the MSc, graduates will be able to apply for graduate membership of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

Career prospects

Graduates of this course gain employment primarily with environmental consultancies or agencies, conservation organisations or charities, or continue academic research as a PhD student. Some of our past students have worked or are currently working for environmental consultants, the RSPB, the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline as early as possible
Tuition fee
  • EUR 15730 Year (Non-EEA)
  • EUR 7880 Year (EEA)

UK/EU £6,410; International £12,800

Start date
Credits (ECTS) 90 ECTS
Duration full-time 12 months
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Part-time, Full-time

Course Content

Conservation Ecology is a master's course designed to provide you with a thorough understanding of theoretical and practical skills required for proficiency in conservation ecology. The course is also offered on a part-time basis and we encourage applications from professionals in conservation organisations and environmental consultancies who wish to upgrade their qualifications.

Teaching focuses on current issues in conservation associated with environmental change, species identification and survey techniques, the key theoretical underpinning of conservation ecology and an introduction to wildlife legislation, GIS, and environmental impact assessment. By completing this course you gain an ability to statistically interpret field data and develop your abilities to organise your work and communicate to a variety of audiences. You will also be taught about research methods and career development, to help you to transfer your skills to the work environment.

Early in Semester 1 you will plan your research project. You will work with your tutor to design a research project that best suits your interests and needs. We encourage project work to be carried out with external research organisations and conservation practitioners, many of whom we have strong links with, or with research groups within Oxford Brookes University.

You will achieve an MSc degree on successful completion of all the course modules including the research project. A Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded for completion of course modules without the research project, and a Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded for completion of 60 level 7 credits. To complete an MSc you need to obtain 180 level 7 credits and for a PGDip 120 level 7 credits. For a PGCert you need to obtain 60 level 7 credits.

The following core modules are compulsory for all three qualifications:

  • Taxonomy and Identification (20 level 7 credits) develops taxonomic skills by requiring students to focus on the processes of identification of species and recognition of key characteristics of selected taxonomic groups. Skills are learned by practical studies in the field and by the use of collections and appropriate taxonomic tools.
  • Ecology for Conservation (20 level 7 credits) introduces appropriate theory and methods together with examination of areas of controversy and best practice for habitat and species conservation and monitoring.
  • Ecosystem Degradation and Management (20 level 7 credits) considers the nature and extent of ecosystem degradation resulting from human activities and the methods for conserving and restoring degraded ecosystems.

The following core module is compulsory for the MSc and PGDip:

  • Career Development and Research Skills (20 level 7 credits) looks at the practical aspects of scientific work, such as designing and analysing experiments and presenting proposals for research and results to prospective employers.

For the MSc and PGDip you need to obtain 40 level 7 credits from any of the following modules:

  • Environmental Law and Decision Making (20 level 7 credits) examines the international, European and UK legal context of environmental decision making.
  • GIS and Environmental Modelling (20 level 7 credits) looks at the practical application of GIS and other computer-based techniques and models as tools to assist in environmental decision making.
  • Procedures and Methods of EIA (40 level 7 credits) examines the procedures and methods of environmental impact assessments.
  • Molecular Biology (20 level 7 credits) introduces core practical skills within molecular biology, to give a firm grounding in the practical aspects of molecular biology that can be applied to problems in conservation biology.
  • Genome Science (20 level 7 credits) develops an understanding of structure content and evolution of genomes and bioinformatics, which is essential for understanding how molecular information can be applied in wildlife.

For the MSc, you also undertake:

  • Research Project (60 level 7 credits) involves an individual research study on a selected topic in Conservation Ecology.

English Language Requirements

CAE score
193(Grade B)
TOEFL paper-based test score (read more)
TOEFL iBT® test (read more)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The UK government confirmed new requirements for secure English language testing for visa and immigration purposes. Learn more


In order to successfully complete a postgraduate course, applicants are usually expected to have (or be about to attain) at least a second class honours degree in a related scientific subject from a recognised institution of higher education. If you do not have these academic qualifications, you could still be offered a place on this course if you can show evidence of the potential to succeed based on professional and/or related experiences.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, you must satisfy our English language requirements by providing us with evidence of a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, TOEFL score of 90 (internet-based).

Work Experience

No work experience is required.

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