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MAster Primate Conservation

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  • Entry requirements
    Students will normally be required to have, or to be expecting, an honours degree in anthropology, biology, ecology, psychology or an acceptable related discipline. Students who are not graduates, or those who have graduated in an unrelated discipline, will be considered for entry to the course if they can demonstrate in their application and in an interview that they are able to work at an advanced level in the discipline. They may also be asked to write a short essay and/or present evidence of original work in support of their application. Appropriate credits obtained elsewhere will be considered. Accreditation of prior learning (eg a conversion course or an advanced research training course) will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the course manager. Accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) will similarly be considered. However, it must be advised that, because the taught aspect is a key component of the course, credit for prior learning will only be given in exceptional cases. Transfer between part-time and full-time modes, transfer from the diploma to the MSc, or deferral of study may be possible in certain circumstances at the discretion of the examination committee. The course manager is willing to discuss with international students how the programme can be adapted to their needs, especially through tutorials, study visits and distributed learning. In the case of students whose first language is not English, proof of language skills must be presented. This could be a TOEFL score of at least 575 or an IELTS score of 6.5.
  • Academic Title
    MSc / PGDip / PGCert Primate Conservation
  • Course description
     MSc / PGDip / PGCert

    The approaching extinction of many of our closest living relatives - monkeys, apes and prosimians - and the destruction and loss of their habitats highlight the need to offset the effects of the current decline in natural resources. This award-winning programme combines the expertise of anthropologists and biologists to examine primate conservation biology in a broad context, with particular emphasis on the relationships between humans and wildlife in forest and woodland environments.

    The destruction of forests often brings irreversible loss of soil, fresh water and renewable reserves of food and fuel, as well as the loss of innumerable species of animals and plants. Changes to the local climate and global effects of forest clearance are becoming increasingly apparent.  Dealing with current issues, including the clearing of forest for growing oil palm and other crops and the mining of coltan (used to charge mobile phones), the rampant pet trade, and the bushmeat crisis, may seem beyond our control. What can be done to alter these trends?

    The MSc in Primate Conservation provides an international and multidisciplinary forum to help understand the issues and promote effective action. Students work in the lab, with local conservation groups including zoos and NGOs, and in the field, in a collaborative and supportive environment with international scholars in primate conservation to gain first-hand experience to enact positive change.
    Course content

    The course runs for one year (two semesters) for full-time students and for two years (four semesters) for part-time students. The break periods (winter, spring and summer) are used to work on the final research project.

    If you register on the MSc in Primate Conservation you will take all six taught modules and the final research project. If you register on the PGDip in Primate Conservation you will take all six taught modules but not the final research project. A PGCert in Primate Conservation is awarded upon successful completion of three taught modules.

    Taught modules:

        * Primate Diversity, Biogeography and Status reviews the variety of primate species, together with their distribution, ecology and conservation status. Taken in the first semester by all students, this module emphasises the differences between primate species and factors that make them more or less vulnerable to extinction. Methods of rainforest biodiversity assessment are explored. Successful conservation projects are highlighted and future options discussed.
        * Human-Wildlife Conflict Issues provides an overview of the many ways that humans and wildlife (both primates and other animals) interact and impact on each other in primate habitat countries. This module examines examples of conflict between humans and wildlife in relation to crop raiding, hunting, biomedical research, tourism, and the design and management of national parks and wildlife reserves. The course introduces students to the diverse attitudes of different cultures or different levels of society towards primates, and to the way that these attitudes will influence primate conservation initiatives. As an example, the course looks at cross-cultural contrasts in the way primates are perceived and treated, and the problems of promoting primate conservation if these are ignored.
        * Primate Conservation - Research Methods gives students a basic understanding of how to conduct a field study of primates in the wild, in captivity, or in a museum. The focus of this module is on the primates themselves rather than the humans who play a role in their environment. Methods dealing with humans (such as interviews and education) will be covered in other modules. Instruction is given on the best ways to collect and analyse data for different kinds of research or investigation suitable for the final project, giving students opportunities to compare the methods they intend to use and to learn of their strengths and weaknesses. The course covers planning, data collection, analysis and interpretation of results relevant to research on primate conservation, including training in programmes such as SPSS, DISTANCE, Ranges, and ArcView. Extended visits to one or more collaborating institutions are undertaken to learn practical techniques such as museum studies, behavioural observation techniques and botanical sampling in situ. The major aim of this course is for each student to write a research proposal suitable for submission to an appropriate funding agency.
        * Genetics and Population Management leads to an advanced understanding of the genetic and demographic management of both small captive populations and those that have become isolated in the wild. The principles of molecular and population genetics are placed in a practical context, and students will learn about the latest techniques of DNA sequencing and the use of micro-satellites and random sequencing techniques to assess genetic relationships between individuals, populations and species. The course explores the relevance of genetics to primate conservation, including its use in studbooks and the management of metapopulations.
        * Captive Management and Rehabilitation reviews good practice in the management and welfare of captive primates, and the implications for the survival of declining populations in the wild. Emphasis is given to the effects of the captive environment on behavioural traits (stereotypy, genetic selection) and breeding success; veterinary care, housing and enclosure design, display, and environmental enrichment are also considered. The role of cryogenics and the pros and cons of reintroduction and rehabilitation into the wild are covered in detail.
        * Environmental Education reviews the knowledge base required for effective conservation action. This module centres on practical ways of conveying information about environmental decline and how primates can be used to promote public understanding. Environmental education issues are explored with particular reference to primates, and educational philosophies and the effectiveness of different strategies and media are considered. This course gives students access to a variety of techniques for the presentation and dissemination of information about conservation issues, including traditional media and, particularly, digital technology and methods. Students are introduced to productive ways of planning, conducting and evaluating educational projects by means of case studies.

    Students are encouraged to build on their strengths and interests throughout the course, culminating in the production of a Final Research Project that has a tangible outcome of use to the broader public and conservation community. All projects are accompanied by a written component to integrate and explain the work and this may sometimes be in the form of a traditional thesis. Students will be encouraged to produce work that has a more lasting impact. Examples include the production of a film or exhibition, one or more articles/chapters for publication, a broadcasting project, an education handbook, web-based materials or design of a practical project relating to primate conservation (eg eco-tourism, habitat management or conservation education).
    Teaching, learning and assessment

    Teaching is through a combination of lectures, research seminars, training workshops, tutorials, case studies, seminar presentations, site visits, computer-aided learning, independent reading and supervised research.

    Each of the seven modules is assessed by means of coursework assignments that reflect the individual interests and strengths of each student. Coursework assignments for six taught modules are completed and handed in at the end of the semester, and written feedback is given before the start of the following semester. A seventh module, the final project, must be handed in before the start of the first semester of the next academic year. It will be assessed during this semester with an examinations meeting at the beginning of February, after which students receive their final marks.

    There is a range of assessment styles, including written coursework (essays, article reviews, scientific report writing), oral presentations, quizzes and the practical assignment or project. They are designed to test a range of competences, in both traditional and innovative ways.

    An important feature of the course is the contribution by each student towards an outreach project that brings primate conservation issues into a public arena. Examples include a poster, display or presentation at a scientific meeting, university society or school. Students may also choose to write their dissertation specifically for scientific publication.  The criteria used for the assessments conform to the University guidelines.

    In addition to the assessed coursework, students will be assigned regular tasks on topics critical to each module. The tasks ensure that all members of the class have done relevant reading and prepared work that will feed into class discussions.

    Round-table discussions form a regular aspect of the course and enable closer examination of conservation issues through a sharing of perspectives by the whole group.
    Scholarships and funding
    At least one scholarship is offered per year to a student from a primate habitat country.  Applicants must indicate on their application that they would like to be considered for this scholarship.

    For general sources of financial support, see:

        * funding for students from the UK and EU
        * funding for students from outside the EU


    In 2008, the MSc in Primate Conservation was formally awarded the highly prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Excellence in Higher Education.  This award was given in particular recognition to our commitment to training a new generation of primate conservationists.  The Department of Anthropology and Geography at Oxford Brookes has a long-established reputation for high quality and innovation in teaching and learning. In the most recent assessment of teaching quality undertaken by the UK government (HEFCE), the teaching of anthropology was rated as excellent, the highest grade possible. Teaching and research are also closely linked in the Department. Anthropology at Oxford Brookes achieved a grade 4 (out of 5*) in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), in formal recognition of its high standing.

    Staff expertise is matched to each aspect of the course, with regular input from visiting speakers with first-hand experience in primate conservation. Six permanent members of staff are on campus. In addition, visiting lecturers in conservation genetics, environmental education and captive care provide their expertise for modules and for project supervision. The course is supported by a course coordinator and an admissions administrator, together with experienced postgraduate researchers who help with part-time teaching. There are also two external advisers.

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