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Masters Degrees (Captive Breeding)

We have 3 Masters Degrees (Captive Breeding)

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Within conservation science there is increasing recognition of the value of genetic data to support management decisions, however scientists and managers with the skills and knowledge to apply population genetic theory to conservation practice are lacking. Read more

Within conservation science there is increasing recognition of the value of genetic data to support management decisions, however scientists and managers with the skills and knowledge to apply population genetic theory to conservation practice are lacking. Within this arena, wildlife forensics is an exciting new field that is attracting increasing global attention in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.

The Cert/Dip/MSc in Applied Conservation Genetics with Wildlife Forensics aims to provide a blend of theoretical and practical education in the application of genetic data to wildlife management and conservation law enforcement. The programme will cover all essential aspects, from population genetic theory, through data analysis, to the considerations involved in the interpretation and transfer of scientific findings to management, policy and criminal investigation.

Students will have the choice to specialise in either applied conservation genetics or wildlife forensics, with both options providing transferable scientific skills relating to knowledge acquisition and application, problem solving, science communication and decision making. The overall aim of the programme is to equip current and future wildlife professionals with the knowledge, skills and global networks to address modern challenges in conservation management and law enforcement.

The programme is designed as an institutional collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture), a government facility which houses the UK wildlife DNA forensics laboratory. Students will have a unique opportunity to learn from internationally recognised specialists in the application of genetic analysis to conservation management and wildlife forensics.

In addition, individual courses will engage a number of external tutors from local and international organisations with specific expertise in the subject matter. Course materials will based on actual examples from wildlife management projects and forensic casework.

Suitable participants include wildlife professionals interested in learning how DNA analysis can be applied to conservation management, from captive breeding programmes to reintroductions and natural population management.

The programme will also be appropriate for those working in wildlife law enforcement or wildlife policy sectors who want to understand how genetic data is now relied upon to inform conservation decision-making, trade regulation and criminal investigations.

As a comprehensive introduction to the fields of conservation genetics and wildlife forensics, the programme is will also provide a valuable stepping stone to students seeking to pursue an advanced scientific career in these fields.

Online learning

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh's excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Learning outcomes

Beyond gaining factual knowledge of the immediate subject matter, programme participation is designed to achieve a series of key learning outcomes:

Knowledge and Understanding

The student will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of practical and ethical issues relating to the application of conservation genetics and wildlife forensics.

Practice: applied knowledge, skills and understanding

The student will be able to demonstrate how to plan, apply and interpret the outputs of appropriate research and forensic techniques.

Generic cognitive skills

The student will be able to analyse complex issues and identify solutions, even in the absence of complete or consistent information.

Communication, ICT, Numeracy Skills

The student will be able to communicate relevant scientific concepts and results, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge and expertise.

Autonomy, accountability and working with others

The student will be able to manage complex wildlife conservation and law enforcement issues and make or contribute to informed judgements that address current challenges in these fields.



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Are you passionate about animal welfare and keen to shape the management of the zoos of the future? Students from over 20 nationalities have chosen our unique programme, the first of its kind in the world. Read more
Are you passionate about animal welfare and keen to shape the management of the zoos of the future? Students from over 20 nationalities have chosen our unique programme, the first of its kind in the world. Study factors affecting animal behaviour, conservation, welfare and their interactions, as well as international zoo management and collaboration. Our partnership with Paignton Zoo gives you regular access to their connections, research and expertise – so you’re primed to make a difference.

Key features

-Delivered in conjunction with the staff at Paignton Zoo and its parent body, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust which also owns Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts.
-Develop your scientific knowledge, professional and technical skills as a conservation biologist. Learn how to manage animal collections for the purpose of education, conservation and wildlife research.
-Study aspects of animal behaviour and ecology, as well as how welfare, housing, nutrition and health all have a part to play in species management.
-Learn to troubleshoot problems at the level of a social group within a particular zoological collection, right up to the level of a species globally. Explore how breeding programmes for endangered species are international in scope.
-Benefit from the knowledge and guidance of Plymouth University’s expert staff with specialisms including the behaviour of captive animals, animal nutrition, the welfare of captive birds and the application of population genetics to captive and natural fish populations.
-Find out how the science of zoos is used to inform government policy. Two of our teaching team are the only academic representatives on the government’s Zoos Expert Committee.
-Get behind-the-scenes insight with a day of study each week with our partners at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. Deepen your understanding of the business and conservation work of zoos, and how networks and collaborations work between them.
-Access the latest research and information from the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, including information on their co-ordinated breeding programmes for endangered species.
-Be inspired by opportunities to visit a range of zoos in the region – including Dartmoor, Bristol and Newquay – and to travel abroad for research projects. A recent student travelled to Louisiana Zoo for her research project on golden tamarin monkeys.
-Graduates work in zoos as educators, researchers, managers and keepers. Many go on to PhD study or work in further education. Other employers include the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria; the Natural History Unit (BBC); national and international conservation organisations.

Course details

As a full-time student, you’ll study seven modules taking in everything from genetics to environmental enrichment, preventative health to budgeting. We update modules to reflect current thinking and you can specialise within them. If you’re interested in working with tigers, for example, this can be reflected across your work. You’ll be assessed through coursework with practical tasks focused on your future career. Core modules include introduction to zoo organisation, animal conservation, applied animal behaviour and management, animal metabolism and nutrition, animal health and welfare and business management. You’ll then do a final three-month research project of your choice. Previous investigations have included everything from female mate choice in white faced saki monkeys to how peripheral and/or invasive activity affects the behaviour and enclosure use of captive sand tiger sharks.

Core modules
-BIO505 Research Project
-ANIM5006 Contemporary Zoo Management
-BIO5131 Postgraduate Research Skills & Methods
-ANIM5005 Zoo Animal Behaviour and Welfare
-ANIM5007 Small Population Conservation
-ANIM5008 Conservation Ecology and Society
-ANIM5009 Zoo Animal Health, Nutrition and Management

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

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Overview. This is an advanced course for students who want to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the biology, welfare and conservation of domesticated and wild animals managed for production or leisure. Read more

Overview

This is an advanced course for students who want to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the biology, welfare and conservation of domesticated and wild animals managed for production or leisure.

WUC works in partnership with Colchester Zoo to support study tours and research activities in order to enhance our students learning experience.

Course Modules include:

  • Animal Genetic Resources
  • Nutritional Issues in Animal Welfare
  • Animal Ethics and Welfare
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Animal Protection and Habitat Conservation
  • Current Issues in Animal Science
  • Wildlife Resources


Learning & Teaching Methods

The teaching methods are a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, visits and student managed learning.

The self-guided study takes place under the supervision of experienced staff from the Centre of Equine and Animal Science at Writtle University College. 

Students are assessed using a number of methods, for example written examination, reports, essays, seminars, debates, oral presentations, case studies and project dissertation.

The research project is an essential part of the MSc programme and provides the opportunity to carry out an independent piece research, critically analyse data and write a dissertation. The project will normally include hands-on practical experimentation to teach students how to gather and process data and problem solve. The project is supervised by an academic member of staff and takes place over an extended period during the spring and summer. The project can be based either at Writtle University College or other suitable external institution. 

Examples of potential areas for dissertation projects: 

  • Investigation of keeper-animal relationships in zoos
  • Animal behaviour and welfare research in collaboration with Colchester Zoo
  • Assessment of prevalence and risk factors for obesity in companion animals
  • Lameness detection and measurement in dairy cows
  • Estimation endangered wild animal population densities
  • Use of molecular biology techniques in conservation genetics of captive wild animals
  • Incidence of small mammals in agricultural landscapes
  • Diet selection and nutrient intakes in captive animals
  • Behavioural indicators of welfare and performance using different castration methods in lambs


Careers

Graduates are likely to use their award to secure management-level jobs and/or to improve their promotion prospects if they are already employed both in international and national organisations.

Many opportunities exist in either government services or related agencies services, for example: 

  • Senior positions in DEFRA as quarantine officers
  • Animal health inspectors

There are also numerous career opportunities in companies specialising in farm animal nutrition and pet food manufacturing, breeding and reproduction, veterinary medicines and pharmaceuticals. There also opportunities in charities engaged in animal welfare such as the RSPCA, zoos, animal rescue centres and safari parks. Also, independent wildlife agencies such as the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, and the Countryside Council for Wales would be interested in Animal Welfare and Conservation graduates. 

Some graduates may take up lecturing positions in universities and colleges or proceed to do further postgraduate study e.g. PhD.



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