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Master Conservation Ecology

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  • Entry requirements
    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. 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 575 (paper-based) or 232 (computer-based).
  • Academic Title
    MSc / PGDip / PGCert Conservation Ecology
  • Course description
     MSc / PGDip / PGCert

    Biological conservation
    and biodiversity assessment have a strong legislative background with targets for the maintenance and enhancement of habitats and species. Furthermore the legislation sets a framework for biodiversity assessment in relation to development and associated mitigation measures. To adhere to the legislation and to effectively identify the best opportunities and adopt appropriate strategies for biodiversity enhancement, well-trained, knowledgeable and highly informed practitioners are required.

    This course is designed to develop your field skills, such as identification, required when undertaking biodiversity surveys. 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 as well as an ability to statistically interpret field data.

    This course will develop your transferable skills particularly communication, organisation and research planning, which will assist you when carrying out your project with one of our research groups or within a conservation organisation and prepare you for a career in conservation ecology.

    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. 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 M-level credits. 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 to their qualifications.

    Teaching focuses on species identification and survey techniques, current issues in conservation associated with environmental change, 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 or with research groups within Oxford Brookes University.

    To complete an MSc you need to obtain 180 M-level credits and for a PGDip 120 M-level credits. For a PGCert you need to obtain 60 M-level credits. The following core modules are compulsory for all three qualifications:

        * Taxonomy and Identification (20 M 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 M 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 M 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 M credits) looks at the practical aspects of doing science, 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 M-level credits from the following modules:

        * Environmental Law and Decision-making (20 M credits) examines the international, European and UK legal context of environmental decision making.
        * GIS and Environmental Modelling (20 M 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 M credits) examines the procedures and methods of environmental impact assessments.


    Oxford Brookes University's School of Life Sciences includes lecturers who conduct first class research in conservation ecology and have established links with conservation organisations and research institutions within the UK and Europe.

    Teaching staff are drawn primarily from the School of Life Sciences and the School of the Built Environment. Visiting speakers from consultancies and research organisations also contribute.
    Work placement and professional recognition

    We encourage you to conduct your research project with conservation organisations or with one of our research groups. We have good links with a range of national and local conservation organisations. On successful completion of the MSc, you will be eligible to apply for associate membership of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, which is a qualification often required by environmental consultancies.
    Career prospects

    We expect graduates of this course to gain employment primarily with environmental consultancies or agencies, conservation organisations or charities or continue academic research as a PhD student. Some of our research students have worked or are currently working for RPS consultants, the RSPB and Natural England.
    For the MSc, you also need:

        * Research Project (60 M credits) involves an individual research study on a selected topic in Conservation Ecology.

    Teaching, learning and assessment

    Conservation Ecology is a modular master’s course in which different subject areas relating to conservation are taught and assessed separately through assignments, presentations and project reports. It is organised on a module-credit basis, with each 20 M-level credit module representing approximately 200 hours of student input. This includes approximately 36 hours of staff contact, normally time-tabled through three-hour teaching blocks over the two 12-week semesters.

    Teaching and learning methods reflect the wide variety of topics associated with conservation ecology and include field visits and exercises, lectures, directed reading, workshops, seminars, practical exercises, laboratory sessions and project work. A key component of the course is developing field skills, including species identification. Identification techniques are taught in the field and in laboratory sessions, using expertise from the School of Life Sciences and, where appropriate, from the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History.

    Where appropriate you will be taught by guest speakers who are conservation practitioners or who work in conservation research organisations. Some parts of the course use modules from the established and successful master’s provision in Environmental Assessment and Management and Environmental Management and Technology, run by the Schools of the Built Environment and Life Sciences.

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