The Conservation MSc at UCL is widely recognised as the leading programme for aspiring nature conservation professionals. This highly successful degree programme saw its first students graduate in 1960, and nearly 80% of its graduates have gone on to secure posts related to conservation.
The programme is strongly interdisciplinary and engages with environmental, social and policy dimensions. It has a vocational orientation, with residential field classes providing first-hand experience of practical conservation challenges. At the same time, the programme provides the scientific rigour needed for evidence-based analysis and understanding of the natural environment, which also forms a sound foundation for a career in academia.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), four optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).
A Postgraduate Diploma - four core modules (60 credits) and four optional modules (60 credits) full-time nine months, part-time two years is offered.
A Postgraduate Certificate - four core modules (60 credits) full-time 12 weeks, part-time two years is offered.
Optional modules (indicative list)
All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through lectures, seminars, computer practicals and field studies, including two residential field-classes to Norfolk and Snowdonia, as well as an optional field-class to an overseas destination. Assessment is through coursework, essays and the dissertation, which includes a presentation of dissertation results.
Fieldwork includes a residential field study to a coastal site in Norfolk and a residential field study in Snowdonia, as well as the option to join a two-week field-class to an overseas destination.
Fieldwork costs may be incurred but these are dependent on module selection; please contact the department for further information on individual modules.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Conservation MSc
The MSc provides an excellent preparation for employment with the full range of public sector and voluntary conservation organisations, environmental consultancies, and for a career in environmental research and academia.
Recent career destinations for this degree
Not least due to the programme's vocational orientation, Conservation MSc graduates have been very successful in securing employment with government organisations (for example DEFRA, Natural England, local councils), conservation NGOs (for example RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, IUCN, WCMC) and environmental consultancies. Equally, the Conservation MSc has provided a very good basis for future academic careers, while some graduates also found employment at zoos and botanical gardens.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
The Conservation MSc is run by UCL Geography, which enjoys an outstanding international reputation for its research and teaching.
The programme is unique not only on account of its long history and extensive alumni network, but also due to its vocational orientation and the active involvement of nature conservation professionals in the delivery of degree material.
Research groups contributing to this MSc include those concerned with environmental change; environmental modelling; and environment, science and society. The programme also benefits from the participation of staff from a variety of external conservation and environmental organisations.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Geography
81% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
Bio inspired design and science are used for innovations that support a transition to a sustainable, circular economy. The Master’s programme Bio Inspired Innovation (BII) offers a unique blend of knowledge and skill training that will support the search for and development of circular business-models and bio inspired research & innovations.
Nature evolves solutions for the societal challenges we face today. Many birds and butterfly species for example, like peacocks, use light-interacting structures to produce colours and patterns. With the discovery of this biotechnology, scientists and engineers have been able to produce colour through structure. BII is aimed at students with a Bachelor’s degree in Science who want to innovate services, products and production systems, and are interested in using bio inspired design and science. You can become the biologist at the design table and facilitate innovations that take their lessons from nature. You will become a professional that contributes to the transition to a circular economy with Bio Inspired Innovations.
This Master’s programme builds on the excellent research at the Faculty of Science and links research findings to solve societal and business challenges.
The first year is research based, while the second year focuses on the use of research knowledge in innovation. In the first year you will be part of an advanced research environment linking to your area of expertise (major research project). You learn to set up and execute research and discuss and report its outcomes. Moreover you will start to explore and learn about multi-disciplinary innovation, collaborative business modelling and design. You will attend seminars and workshops, some of which you will organise yourself, that allow you to prepare yourself for the second year.
In the second year you will get in depth knowledge of Biomimicry and other design and innovation methods through courses and an internship.
Our Conservation and Biodiversity Masters offers great flexibility, with a wide choice of topics from across disciplines, enabling you to construct a programme that suits your individual interests and career ambitions in this increasingly important field.
You will have the opportunity to gain a solid foundation in the key theoretical issues, such as wildlife population dynamics and conservation biology, and learn how these are applied to real-world problems, such as managing habitats or dealing with wildlife-human conflicts. Additionally, you will gain and develop the key skills that are valued by employers, such as problem solving, report writing, data analysis and presentation skills.
You will complete six taught modules delivered by world-leading researchers from our three internationally-renowned partner organisations: Lancaster Environment Centre, Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This gives you the opportunity to interact with a wide range of expert specialists, including lake ecologists, political ecologists, food security biologists, earth observation geographers, social scientists and others, so that you can put your learning into a wider context.
Several modules include field trips to the beautiful and topographically varied countryside around Lancaster, and beyond. If you want to travel further afield, we have research projects and partners across the globe that provide exiting opportunities when it comes to selecting your dissertation project.
This project forms a substantial part of your Masters degree. It will enhance your practical and analytical skills and give you the opportunity to apply your learning to a real-world challenge. This may involve a doing a project with a government agency or conservation organisation through our award winning Centre for Global Eco-innovation, which uses our excellent links with the environmental and conservation sectors. Examples of previous dissertation projects are:
Graduates have gone on to successful careers in the environmental and conservation sectors, as well as further study for a PhD.
Full-time students spend two days at University, usually Wednesday and Thursday, and around 12 hours per week in lectures and practical sessions.
Part-time students attend one day per week. First year part-time students attend on Wednesdays and second years attend on Thursdays.
We teach using a combination of lectures, laboratory sessions, problem solving tutorials, video presentations and practicals. You will also undertake fieldwork excursions within the UK and overseas (additional costs apply). The number of hours of formal teaching will vary depending on your module choice. You will also be encouraged to take responsibility for your own learning by completing guided reading and various interactive computer packages. Based on individual circumstances the MSc Project may be extended into your third year of study and will be agreed as part of a discussion with the course leader. Please note some field trips will take place on weekdays besides Wednesdays and Thursdays.
You will be assessed through a range of methods depending on your module choice, these include: examinations, coursework such as writing reports of field excursions. You will also analyse case studies, undertake presentations, participate in workshops and analyse data.