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Masters Degrees (Ecosystem)

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Programme description. This online learning programme provides an interdisciplinary approach to conservation management. Read more

Programme description

This online learning programme provides an interdisciplinary approach to conservation management.

It draws together expertise from within the University of Edinburgh's Global Health Academy and partner global associates, to deliver first class teaching and research in the field of Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health.

You will assess all aspects of ecosystems, aiming to conserve and maintain their sustainability in both the developing and developed world.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Academies.

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.

Programme structure

The programme is delivered using innovative online learning. It involves a mixed teaching approach that includes independent study and reflection, as well as online discussion and group project work.

Year 1: certificate

You study the following areas:

  • Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
  • Ecosystems and Governance
  • Conservation Ethics

Year 2: diploma

You choose six elective courses from the following:

  • Climate Change, Policy and Practice
  • Communication and Public Engagement of Conservation
  • Connecting Environment and Society
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Ecosystem Resilience and Extreme Events
  • Environmental Law
  • Ex-situ Wildlife Management
  • An introduction to transboundary diseases
  • Introduction to GIS and spatial data analysis
  • Invasive Non-Native Species
  • Land Use and Food Security
  • Managing and Leading Conservation Projects
  • Reflections on Professional Development
  • The Marine Environment
  • The Modern Zoo
  • The Use of Artificial Reproduction Technologies in Threatened Species
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Wildlife Crime and Forensic Investigation
  • Wildlife, animal Health and environment
  • Zoonotic Disease

Elective courses are subject to minimum student numbers and timetabling restrictions.

Year 3: masters

You complete your own choice of dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words.

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD)

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Please contact the programme team for more information about available courses and course start dates.

Career opportunities

This programme has been designed to help you find work in environmental, intergovernmental, national and international agencies, as well as lobby groups, NGOs and other research groups.



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An international programme for future water managers, combining ecology, hydrology and socio-economics. Read more

An international programme for future water managers, combining ecology, hydrology and socio-economics.

What is the best way to handle invasive species in a river ecosystem? Or how do you protect a city like New Orleans from floods? In this double degree programme, you’ll learn to tackle these kinds of problems on the basis of ecological, hydrological and social-economic aspects. We focus on ecological solutions, which are often more effective than technical adjustments. Think of estuaries with sea grass fields breaking the waves instead of reinforcing dikes, or self-purification of drainage-basins, making dredging unnecessary.

Ecology, hydrology and society

If you follow the TWM double degree programme, you don’t have to choose between ecology and hydrology. On the one hand, you’ll learn to classify different ecosystems, analyse ecological data and assess the impact of various stressors. On the other hand, you’ll get the technical background to calculate water flow properties and work with flood management models. So upon graduation, you’ll have all the required knowledge for a career in water management.

Apart from the natural sciences, the programme offers multiple courses in water governance, and the social, economical and philosophical aspects of water management. This widens your perspective and provides you with the tools to bridge the gap between science and society.

Unique perspective

The Master’s specialisation in Transnational Ecosystem-based Water Management (TWM) is partly taught at Radboud University and partly at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. This means that you’ll profit from the expertise at two universities and become familiar with different cultures and research approaches. And after successful completion of the programme, you'll receive a German and a Dutch diploma. With that broad background, our graduates often find a job as manager or project leader, with an all-encompassing view in national or international water-related projects.

Although the universities are only about 100 kilometres apart, you’ll certainly notice a cultural difference. Hence, following this programme not only means you’ll profit from both of their expertises, you’ll also experience a rapid personal growth. We notice that our students are very independent in finding their way around and performing research, are not afraid of new challenges and are well-trained in (international) communication skills.

Why study Transnational ecosystem-based Water Management?

  • After successful completion of the programme, you'll receive two diplomas: one from Radboud University and one from the University of Duisburg-Essen.
  • There is much attention for personal development, with an orientation course focussing on your future career and extensive one-on-one contact with your supervisors.
  • This specialisation is closely connected to the Institute for Water and Wetlands Research(IWWR), a leading institute in wetland ecosystem and stress biology research.
  • Radboud University has close ties to water boards, from regional water boards to international agencies, consultancies and non-profit organisations.
  • Our students rate this Master’s programme 8 out of 10 according to the National Student Survey 2017.

Visit http://www.ru.nl/masters/twm for more information about the programme and to start your application today.



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The MSc in Marine Ecosystem Management is a one year course run by the School of Biology and provides students with a superior understanding of integrated marine systems, exploring the interconnections between the physical environment, biodiversity and the impacts of human activity and resource use. Read more

The MSc in Marine Ecosystem Management is a one year course run by the School of Biology and provides students with a superior understanding of integrated marine systems, exploring the interconnections between the physical environment, biodiversity and the impacts of human activity and resource use. The programme takes a holistic approach to understanding ecosystem goods and services, and draws on the quantitative and diverse academic expertise within the University's Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI). It is designed to prepare students for professional careers in research and management of marine ecosystems.

Highlights

  • Modules include intense training in quantitative techniques (for example, statistical modelling and GIS).
  • Students have the exciting opportunity to conduct fieldwork and training in Antarctica or Indonesia as part of the optional modules in polar ecology or scientific diving.
  • The combination of core modules and a personalised selection of advanced optional modules allows students to tailor the programme to their individual interests.
  • Stimulating, small class sizes with a focus on student-led, experiential learning.

Teaching format

The modular curriculum is designed to be coherent, providing integrated training for future careers in marine management or scientific research. Teaching takes the form of lectures, tutorials, discussions, debates and workshops. Practicals involve laboratory work, field excursions, modelling and computer-based data analysis.

Class sizes range from 5 to 30 students, depending on the activity. There is a strong focus on small-group teaching so that students are individually supported and can ask for help when it is needed.

In Semester 2 there are optional field courses: a polar field course in Antarctica or a tropical scientific diving course in Indonesia.

From June to August, students focus solely on their research project leading to the submission of a 15,000-word dissertation.  

For more information about the course, please visit our website.



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The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Read more
The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Understanding the intricate, medium- to long-term changes in our land, air and water requires advanced scientific knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction.

This joint international MSc course between the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and Justus-Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany is the response to these global change challenges and will suit skilled motivated science graduates wishing to develop a scientific career in ecosystem research as well as those aiming to contribute to evidence-based environmental policy.

You will be involved in active research groups in both countries, contributing to their ongoing ecosystem studies in order to experience the process of creating scientific knowledge in ecosystem science. In addition to acquiring skills in measuring, analysing and understanding what is behind scientific data you will have the opportunity to develop your analytical, presentation and communication skills to enable you to participate in the policy making process.

Key Fact

Graduates will receive a joint international degree from two well-established universities combining their complementary and multidisciplinary research profiles and cutting-edge expertise. Through the 6-8 weeks work placement in in a company or institution of your choice, you will acquire transferable skills which will make you a sought after and effective employee.

Course Content and Structure

This is a 120 CP programme comprising 70 CP of taught modules, 20CP of work placement and 20 CP of independent research project. The first semester is based at UCD, Dublin, followed by a 6-8 week work placement in a company or institution of your choice. We have established links with organisations such as FAO, UNFCCC, ISEO, EFI, ICLEI and NOAA as well as European and national EPA agencies and many research institutes.
The second taught semester is based in JLU, Giessen between March and August and the third semester (Sept-Dec) is devoted entirely to the individual research project, which can be undertaken in either UCD, JLU or another approved research institute.
Samples of topics include:

• Global change (soil, air, water): modelling and advanced techniques
• Science and policy
• Research in ecology
• Environmental law and policy
• Man in past climates
• Policy consultancy
• Plant-soil-atmosphere interactions
• Biodiversity informatics
• Data analysis and interpretation
• Economics and environmental management
• Environmental impact assessment


For more information on module description and available scholarships, visit http://globalchange.ucd.ie/

Career Opportunities

Graduates may pursue roles as policy advisers, scientific analysts or researchers in government, international organisations, NGOs, research institutes or consulting companies. There are also many opportunities for further studies. The skills you acquire, particularly through the completion of the minor thesis within a 4 month period, provide a strong foundation for PhD research.

Prospective employers include the national Environmental Protection Agency, governmental departments, European Commission as well as policy consultancy firms such as European Environment Agency and also international organisations (e.g. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; United Nations Environment Programme; Food and Agriculture Organisation; International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Facilities and Resources

• A climate change station at JLU hosts one of the world longest-running Free Air Carbon dioxide (FACE) experiments.
• The Program for Experimental Atmospheres and Climate (PEAC) at UCD is a state-of-the art plant growth room facility to investigate past and future climatic scenarios.
• The UCD Earth Institute is a centre for resource and environment research aimed at leading Ireland’s response to climate change and the global energy crisis.

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You study biodiversity conservation as applied ecology in the context of land use - agriculture, forestry and amenity. Focusing on wildlife conservation in the UK and Europe, you develop practical skills in plant identification and habitat assessment from a wide range of upland and lowland areas. Read more
You study biodiversity conservation as applied ecology in the context of land use - agriculture, forestry and amenity. Focusing on wildlife conservation in the UK and Europe, you develop practical skills in plant identification and habitat assessment from a wide range of upland and lowland areas.

Your studies focus on wildlife conservation with a particular emphasis on agriculture, forestry and amenity. Elements of the course have strong links with national, statutory and non-governmental conservation organisations. Practical management skills are gained through involvement in management problems on nature reserves and field courses that provide experience in species identification.

The course has compulsory and optional modules, giving you the opportunity to tailor your studies to your personal interests. Through the compulsory modules you will develop knowledge and skills in core concepts such as:
-Understanding the range of temperate zone ecosystems and wildlife species
-Developing a critical awareness of contemporary conservation issues and research insights
-Understanding scientific survey, habitat assessment and experimental techniques and the ability to identify common species from selected habitats
-The development of effective management plans for species and ecosystems
-Understanding complex biodiversity and ecosystem management issues
-Advanced knowledge and understanding of the influence of environmental, management and land-use factors on ecosystems and wildlife species

You also undertake a major conservation project and are supported through training in designing and delivering a project based on a laboratory or field-based investigation. After choosing your topic you collect, analyse and interpret data to produce a thesis.

Our staff

You benefit from being taught by lecturers who are industry experienced and research active. Our research in integrated agricultural production focuses on soil science, plant science and ecology, spanning a range of scales from: pot – plot – farm – landscape.
Strategic research embraces work on:
-Soil quality
-Rhizosphere function
-Plant-soil feedback
-Soil-carbon dynamics
-Nutrient cycling

Applied research addresses issues of:
-Climate change mitigation (including biofuels)
-Ecological (organic) farming systems
-Low-input crop systems
-Agriculture-environment interactions

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This course provides high-level research training in the latest developments in the conservation of ecosystems and the environment. Read more

This course provides high-level research training in the latest developments in the conservation of ecosystems and the environment.

This cutting-edge interdisciplinary programme, which covers the physical, life and social sciences, is designed to develop the solid theoretical grounding, skills and real-world experience that employers are looking for.

It also provides an understanding of how to ensure that research has real-world impact. This will best prepare students for a career in research and possible PhD studies.

This MRes is offered as a 12-month full-time programme, or a two-year part time option, which may particularly appeal to those candidates already in employment in a relevant field.

Careers

Graduates of this course are ideally placed to work for large international or small local NGOs, contribute to the work of international organisations such as the UN and World Bank, or advise government policy.

Many graduates may aspire to continuing within academia after graduation, and will find that this MRes will set them apart from other PhD candidates.

Further information

For full information on this course, including how to apply, see: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/life-sciences/ecosystems/

If you have any enquiries you can contact our team at:



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The Master in Conservation Biology, specialization Ecology, Monitoring and Management of Ecosystems aims at providing a critical and conceptually-based understanding of structure, functioning, monitoring, and management of ecosystems submitted to various natural and anthropogenic pressures, in the framework of biodiversity conservation. Read more

The Master in Conservation Biology, specialization Ecology, Monitoring and Management of Ecosystems aims at providing a critical and conceptually-based understanding of structure, functioning, monitoring, and management of ecosystems submitted to various natural and anthropogenic pressures, in the framework of biodiversity conservation. Half of the second year is devoted to a personal Master thesis project.

The Master is a two-year course. In the first year, the course design is based upon the idea that biodiversity conservation must be based on a multi-level knowledge approach, mixing key disciplines in ecology, and including recent technical advances in numerical ecology, molecular ecology, wildlife monitoring and ecosystem management. The course content is rooted in our established strengths in functional ecology (ecosystem structure and function, population and community ecology), paleoecology (long-term evolution of ecosystems), ecotoxicology (fate and effects of pollutants), epidemiology (transmission of zoonotic pathogens), conservation biology (status and threats of patrimonial animal and plant species), numerical ecology, ecological modelling and research design. The master degree program is further enriched by input from professional conservationists and managers, with the aim to put courses in the broader context of project management and decision making procedures.

The specific course objectives are to develop abilities to:

  • critically engage with concepts and theory in functional ecology from interdisciplinary perspectives at an advanced scientific level,
  • critically assess the ability of populations and communities to react, cope with and adjust to environmental changes occurring over different spatial and time scales,
  • appreciate the opportunities offered by new technological developments for the future of research on ecosystem monitoring and management,
  • combine theory, hypotheses, methods, data and field work to identify and develop innovative applied or fundamental research questions and designs.

Teaching consists of lectures, seminars, class tutorials and practical training in the field and in the laboratory, which provide in-depth exploration of key issues. The teaching philosophy is to stimulate discussion and debate between academic staff and students to identify and explore theory, methods and practices in an academic space that encourages a critical dialogue.

Field courses allow students to apply in the field the methods and ideas presented in the classroom. Each year, they will attend one week-long fieldtrip and several field courses. One of these field courses (in the framework of the teaching unit “Conservation Biology and Ecosystem Management”) allows them to test a hypothesis dealing with the potential impact of anthropogenic disturbances on plant or animal populations or communities, in the context of the various activities taking place in the Jura Mountains, known for their outstanding landscapes, typical ecosystems (e.g. peatbogs, wood-pastures) and patrimonial species (e.g. boreal lynx). Other field courses address the assessment and the management of ecosystems, and the monitoring of plant and animal wildlife.

Students must pass the examinations taken during the first year (i.e. obtain 60 ECTS) in order to proceed without further selection into the second year.

The second year is mainly devoted to the thesis project within a research team or a professional structure (NGOs, consultancy companies, governmental agencies…) with the support of an academic supervisor, specialist of the related research domain. Half of this second year is devoted to researching and writing a thesis of about 12,000 words. The research topic will be devised at the end of the first year. The thesis accounts for half the marks for the second year.

Graduate destinations

The aim of the course is to train future scientific leaders in functional ecology, ecotoxicology and epidemiology as well as future managers and policy officers in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. In that respect, the course combines functional ecology and conservation biology as two major disciplines with some other relevant topics – paleoecology, ecotoxicology, epidemiology, ethics and deontology, epistemology, environmental regulation and socioeconomics of conservation, structure and management of environmental organizations, in addition to the hard science of biodiversity.

The Master’s Alumni Office helps alumni keep in touch with each other and organises alumni events.

Application

Available spots: 16 in M1 and M2

Students already registered in a French university apply online on eCandidat. All information available on ttp://http://www.nature-conservation-ubfc.com/emme/en/.

Non-registered students should rather look at http://www.univ-fcomte.fr/pages/fr/menu1/accueil-international-131.html

Candidacy file:

  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae with personal, training, internship, professional, and other information allowing the recruitment committee to assess the quality of the candidacy.
  • Evidence of completion of upper secondary school (high school) in the form of final and official diploma and transcripts. Note that the transcripts must specify all coursework completed.
  • Cover letter.
  • Two letters of recommendation.

Application examination:

Examination by the recruitment committee of the Master EDGE

After a first examination of all complete files by the recruitment committee, some candidates may be called for an interview with some members of the recruitment committee.

Selection criteria:

  • Previous training in line with the Master EDGE objectives
  • Quality of the training (marks, ranks, distinction)
  • Internships and/or professional experiences in line with the Master EDGE objectives
  • Motivation and career objectives
  • Recommendation

General requirements:

To meet the general entrance requirements for programme studies at the Master’s level, you must have graduated from an accredited university with a degree equivalent to at least a Swedish Bachelor’s degree (180 ECTS). Please note that you must provide adequate supporting documentation in the form of diplomas or official transcripts specifying all courses completed, including any transferred credits from previous schools, both in the original language and translated into English or French.

Specific requirements:

Specific entrance requirements consist of previous university studies within the following subjects: biology, ecology, and statistics.

English requirement

In order to be eligible, the English language entry requirement corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in France.

GRANTS

Up to five fellowship grants (800 € per month, during up to 10 months) will be awarded each year to high quality foreign students, with a particular attention to applications coming from Mediterranean countries and Caribbean island nations and territories.



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Parasitism is the most common lifestyle on earth and parasites are an integral part of every ecosystem. Even though they are neglected on a regular basis, their contribution to overall biodiversity outnumbers that of free-living organisms and they often have major impacts on ecosystem functioning. Read more

Parasitism is the most common lifestyle on earth and parasites are an integral part of every ecosystem. Even though they are neglected on a regular basis, their contribution to overall biodiversity outnumbers that of free-living organisms and they often have major impacts on ecosystem functioning. Food webs illustrate trophic interactions between auto- and heterotrophs. They are a standard ecological heuristic for the exploration of complex interactions, and provide a foundation for the analysis of regular patterns that may reflect fundamental ecological rules. Parasites are routinely ignored in food web studies, although their impact has the potential to affect not only ecosystem functioning but also ecosystem services. Parasites might control populations of economically important fish species, thereby affecting food-provisioning services for higher trophic levels, including humans. Thus, there is a growing interest to incorporate them (Lafferty et al., 2008). In the published research that does include parasites, they were considered either as the top predators or as prey items. New research focuses on how to include parasites in food webs in ways that reflect their impacts on the host organisms (Dunne et al., 2013).

A food web has been developed for a typical North Sea benthic community based around the bivalve Tellina fabula, characteristic for fine sands in the German Bight. This food web includes the dominant 35 taxa. The proposed Master thesis will build on this substantial body of work by adding the likely and proven parasite links to this food web. It will involve an extensive literature review on all the organisms that are included in this food web starting with a checklist of metazoan parasites of fishes in German coastal waters (Palm et al., 1999). This publication lists ~86 different parasite species for the fishes in the North Sea. Key parasite species will be identified and information about the lifecycles of those relevant parasites will be gathered. This parasite knowledge will feed into an already existing trophic link database, in order to include trophic parasite links into the benthic food web by using the R package ‘Cheddar’ (R Core Development Team 2008; Hudson et al., 2013, 2015).

To validate what was found in the literature, the two most important fish species in this food web will be dissected for parasites. Parasite isolation and identification will serve as ground truthing of parasites proposed for the web and will potentially show differences between ‘historical’ literature and newly obtained data.

The study will provide a thorough foundation for a topological food web incorporating parasites and exploring their ecological relevance in a North Sea benthic system.



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This programme offers expert understanding of the latest developments in geographical information science (GIS), mixing practical training, theoretical knowledge and an ability to apply learned skills in any software environment. Read more

This programme offers expert understanding of the latest developments in geographical information science (GIS), mixing practical training, theoretical knowledge and an ability to apply learned skills in any software environment.

This programme can be tailored to your interests and career goals, offering hands-on experience in geographical problem solving. A field trip to Perthshire focuses on techniques for capturing geospatial information.

Programme structure

Courses reflecting the industry’s needs prepare you for employment.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Research Practice and Project Planning
  • Spatial Modelling and Analysis
  • Technological Infrastructures for GIS
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses. We particularly recommend:

  • Active Remote Sensing: Radar and Lidar
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Business Geographics
  • Data Integration and Exchange
  • Data Mining and Exploration
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • ICT for Development
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Object Orientated Software Engineering: Spatial Algorithms
  • Passive Earth Observation: New Platforms, Sensors, and Analytical Methods
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing
  • Principles of Geographical Information Science
  • Technologies for Sustainable Energy
  • Water Resource Management

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Career opportunities

Demand for GIS expertise is growing at an unprecedented rate. The proven ability of our graduates means our internationally recognised programme is held in high regard by employers.

Graduates work worldwide in public and private sector organisations, such as Microsoft, Google, General Electric Aerospace, The World Bank, British Antarctic Survey, The World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Unisys, British Airways, the Forestry Commission, DEFRA and Registers of Scotland.

The programme is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Related programmes

You may also be interested in the following programmes:

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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The master's Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management is a two-year MSc programme. You can specialise in Aquaculture; Marine Governance; Marine Resources and Ecology. Read more

The master's Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management is a two-year MSc programme. You can specialise in Aquaculture; Marine Governance; Marine Resources and Ecology.

Oceans, seas, estuaries and lakes are major providers of ecosystem goods and services such as food, tourism and coastal protection. In many cases, exploitation levels have bypassed the carrying capacity of these ecosystems leading to devastating effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. 

To preserve marine biodiversity and its ecosystem functions innovative and sustainable solutions are necessary. Therefore, young professionals are needed with an integrative approach to marine ecosystem management.

Study programme

You start the MAM programme by taking courses that will give you a common basis on aquaculture and marine resources management. Then you chose one of three specialisations in which you will take deepening courses that will prepare you for your thesis.

In the Academic Consultancy Cluster you will share (interaction) and intergrade your knowledge with (the knowledge of) other students in multidisciplinary teams. On the programme of Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management page you can find the general outline of the programme and more detailed information about courses, theses and internships.

Specialisations

Within the master programme you can choose one of the following Specialisations to meet your personal interests.

Your future career

As an alumni of the MSc programme Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management there are many job opportunities. To give you a small idea how your career could look like after your study we highlight some of the most common job types. Also, a few of our alumnus tell about their jobs. Read more about career perspectives and opportunities after finishing the programme.

Related programmes:

MSc Animal Sciences

MSc Biology 

MSc Environmental Sciences 

MSc Forest and Nature Conservation 



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Graduates will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills to contribute to humanity’s efforts to achieve and sustain food security during the 21st century. Read more

Graduates will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills to contribute to humanity’s efforts to achieve and sustain food security during the 21st century.

This programme is not suitable for applicants pursuing a career in food science or food safety/hygiene or related areas. Please read the programme description and ensure you understand the nature of the programme before you apply. Applicants who do not show a clear understanding of the programme will not be accepted.

Food security has become a critically important issue for societies around the globe. Interactions between demographics, changes in diet, trade liberalisation, an increased focus on conservation, technological innovations including GM crops, the impact of climate change and new responses to climate change resource limitations (particularly in terms of energy, water and nutrients) all affect food security.

With such a rapid growth in this area, there is an increasing demand for qualified experts to contribute to policy creation and legislation in food production and the supply chain.

This unique MSc offers students the scope and multidisciplinary approach to address all of these issues, as well as an understanding of the technical, agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Programme structure

This MSc programme consists of six taught courses over two semesters, and an individual dissertation project of about 12,000 words.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Professional and Research Skills in Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses.

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application

Field trip

The programme typically includes a field trip providing an opportunity to apply some of the principles of food security to real world scenarios. In previous years, the tour has taken place in locations such as Italy, Morocco and Kenya.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • provide a broad understanding of agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security
  • apply scientific information and methods in the analysis of complex problems
  • formulate a research problem and independently carry out the research needed to produce an appropriate solution in a range of scientific or policy contexts
  • enhance their skills in specialist topics related to food security

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme typically go on to work in government and non-governmental agencies as well as international bodies and businesses where they can utilise the invaluable, and highly prized, skills they have acquired on the programme, such as food security assessment.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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Master's specialisation in Communities and Ecosystems. Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. Read more

Master's specialisation in Communities and Ecosystems

Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. The biodiversity is analysed and functionally related to the hydrology, nutritional status and landscape configuration of the ecosystem. Ecogenomics tools are applied to obtain information on unknown components such as microbial composition or evolutionary history of populations. This information together gives insight in how different communities (plants, animals, micro-organisms) within an ecosystem are interrelated and interdependent, and how they determine the resilience of the community to environmental stress. This fundamental knowledge is applied in proven applications in nature and water management.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/biology/ecosystems

Admission requirements for international students

1. A completed Bachelor's degree in Biology or related area

2. Proficiency in English

In order to take part in this programme, you need to have fluency in both written and spoken English. Non-native speakers of English without a Dutch Bachelor's degree or VWO diploma need one of the following:

-A TOEFL score of >575 (paper based) or >232 (computer based) or >90(internet based)

- A IELTS score of >6.5

- Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), with a mark of C or higher

Career prospects

This programme provides you with the qualifications you need to start working on your PhD and in the field of communication, business and management or education. Biologists often continue their research careers in universities, research institutes, pharmaceutical companies and public health authorities. On graduation, our students very quickly take up positions as researchers or analysts in government departments, research organisations and medical or pharmaceutical companies.

What biologists do:

- Researchers at universities or in companies

- Supervisors of clinical trials

- Consultants

- Lecturers

- Policy coordinators

- Teachers

Where biologists work:

- Research/education

- Health care

- Business services

- Industry

- Government

- Trade

Our approach to this field

Communities and Ecosystems deals with the ecology of units of interacting individuals, in populations, communities and ecosystems. The biodiversity is analysed and functionally related to the hydrology, nutritional status and landscape configuration of the ecosystem. Ecogenomics tools are applied to obtain information on unknown components such as microbial composition or evolutionary history of populations. This information together gives insight in how different communities (plants, animals, micro-organisms) within an ecosystem are interrelated and interdependent, and how they determine the resilience of the community to environmental stress. This fundamental knowledge is applied in proven applications in nature and water management.

Our research in this field

- Rich programme

This M.Sc. programme not only puts the interactions between organisms into context, it also integrates all levels of organisation from the molecule and the cell up to ecosystems and the landscape. This combination of experience results in a rich and coherent MSc. programme of Master's courses and exciting internships with state-of-the-art research. It prepares you for a career in science, both fundamental and applied, but also provides the necessary knowledge for innovative evidence-based applications in nature and water management.

- Personal tutor

Our top scientist are looking forward to take you with them on a challenging and inspiring scientific journey. This programme offers you many opportunities to follow your own interests under the guidance of a personal tutor. Radboud University offers you a multitude of research fields to choose from in close collaboration with the

- Academic hospital UMCN St. Radboud;

- Institute for Water and Wetlands Research;

- Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences;

- Donders Institute.

This allows you to specialise in a field of personal interest.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/biology/ecosystems



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One Health is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the complex interactions between human health, animal health and ecosystem health. Read more

One Health is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the complex interactions between human health, animal health and ecosystem health. Its original emergence was largely driven by the threat of global pandemics of disease, in particular highly pathogenic avian influenza and SARS. There was a recognition that the complex health challenges faced in the 21st century required a new interdisciplinary approach that included both the natural and social sciences.

Launched in 2014, this programme utilises the many strengths of the University of Edinburgh across multiple disciplines to provide the key training and skills required for a successful career in this emerging field.

The One Health programme is part of the Global Health Academy and we share many elective courses with other programmes in the Academy. This provides a great deal of flexibility allowing you to personalise your studies to reflect your professional interests and career aspirations. As well as learning from our expert tutors you will join with students from around the world on a number of different master’s programmes to share experiences and knowledge.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy.

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.

Programme structure

Year 1: Courses for the Certificate

The Certificate comprises four compulsory courses. These four courses are:

  • Introduction to One Health (20 credits)
  • Applied Epidemiology and Surveillance (20 credits)
  • One Health Policy (10 credits)
  • Ecosystem Health (10 credits)

Year 2: Courses for the Diploma

For the diploma a selection of courses totalling 60 credits must be made from the following courses. Each 20-credit course is taught over a period of ten weeks, whilst the 10-credit courses are taught over a five-week period.

  • Socio-economic Principles of One Health
  • Zoonotic Diseases
  • Zoonotic Diseases in a Global Setting
  • Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Communication and Public Engagement of Conservation
  • Introduction to GIS and Spatial Data Analysis
  • Wildlife Disease Management
  • Ex-Situ Wildlife Management
  • Environmental Law
  • Water and Sanitation
  • An Introduction to Transboundary Diseases and their Impact on Trade and Wildlife Populations
  • Captive and Free-ranging Wild Animal Welfare
  • Surveillance and Control of Transboundary Diseases Affecting International Trade
  • Pastoralism and Herd Health
  • Animal Disease Survey Design and Analysis
  • Ecosystem Resilience & Extreme Events
  • Connecting Environment & Society

Please note that although all courses are offered, we cannot guarantee that places will be available on all elective courses to all students, each year (it will be at the discretion of the Programme Director to assign places on courses and this will depend on demand).

Year 3: Completion of the MSc programme in One Health

The written reflective element is an assignment of 10-15,000 words (60 credits). This may take the form of one of the following:

  • a written dissertation
  • a casebook (relating to relevant professional experience)
  • a personal portfolio of reflective and practical activity
  • a research project

Students will be required to submit a proposal that demonstrates an appropriate level of critical analysis, academic knowledge and reflection, or one health practice depending on the choice made, prior to being admitted to the masters year. The University of Edinburgh’s common marking scheme will be applied.

Postgraduate Professional Development

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Career opportunities

A qualification from our programme will enhance your career prospects in academia, research, government departments, non-governmental organisations, international development and the private sector.

Despite being a relatively new field, One Health is rapidly gaining global recognition and current students have already reported improvements in career development through studying on the programme.



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Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles. Read more

Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Graduates with postgraduate training in this area are in greater demand than ever before in business, industry and government.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Programme structure

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Ecological Economics Field Methods in Research and Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses previously available include:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses^. We particularly recommend:

  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Political Ecology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Water Resource Management
  • Forests and Environment
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Principles of GIS
  • Energy & Society I; Key Themes and Issues
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Introduction To Spatial Analysis
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Encountering Cities
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Further Spatial Analysis
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Ecosystem Service Values

^Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change

Field trip

To experience and understand conflict between ecosystem conservation and human development needs at ground level, this programme typically includes a unique 7-10-day study tour, usually overseas and in the developing world (previous destinations have included South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania).

Career opportunities

Being able to identify ecological economic problems, and apply economic principles and methods to solve these problems is increasingly valued by employers.

Our graduates are working in a variety of sectors, including environmental consultancies; international and governmental agencies; NGOs; financial institutions; multinationals; environmental education and research.

Additionally around a quarter of our masters students go on to doctoral research programmes.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.



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In this one-year MSc programme, you have the opportunity to learn about how trees, people and agriculture can be combined in sustainably managed farms, forests and landscapes. Read more
In this one-year MSc programme, you have the opportunity to learn about how trees, people and agriculture can be combined in sustainably managed farms, forests and landscapes. There is a long tradition of agroforestry practice in many parts of the world, but recently it has become a major focus in international development and is now at the forefront of innovation in natural resource management. Bangor is a world leader in agroforestry with a fantastic reputation for its research activities and our graduates are either already employed when they start the course and/or have a strong track record in finding employment within the sector. Students and academic staff are active collaborators with international organisations such as the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, Costa Rica (CATIE) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). You can expect to develop the skills required for a research and professional career from the comprehensive programme we offer.

The overall aim of the programme is to provide an integrated education in natural resource management, combining ecological and social dimensions of agricultural and forest sciences, focussed on application to real world systems where trees interact with agriculture. The programme is designed to develop both subject-specific knowledge and cognitive and key skills. The course has a world focus and the University has strong links with agroforestry organisations which means that many of our students have undertaken fieldwork in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, as well as in Wales/UK. Besides fantastic overseas opportunities, we also have a university farm (Henfaes Research Centre) located a short distance outside of Bangor where many students carry out experiments for their final projects.

This course is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters and gives partial fulfilment of Professional Membership Entry.

We work in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre.


Course Structure
The programme has two parts. Part Part 1: runs from September to May and consists of five taught modules and a study tour. The taught part of the course is based on lectures, seminars, practical sessions and directed study, allowing an opportunity to examine a broad range of topics in detail and develop personal skills and expertise. A range of different assessment methods are used including reports, presentations, practical write-ups and online and written exams. Part 1 must be completed successfully before proceeding to Part 2, the dissertation phase.

Part 2: June to September is set aside for production of a dissertation on a topic selected by the student in consultation with their academic supervisor. Dissertations can be in almost any aspect of agroforestry that interests you; they can have a temperate or tropical focus, and can include field work either locally in Wales, elsewhere in the UK, or overseas.

Part 1 Subjects:

Agroforestry Systems and Practice: This module explores agroforestry systems and practices worldwide and introduces the concepts behind them. Through a series of case studies, the module explores ecological and biophysical interactions in agroforestry systems, and considers the range of social, economic and ecosystem benefits they deliver, including ways in which we are trying to reduce the environmental impact of food production and overcome constraints to food security.

Silviculture: The purpose of the module is to develop students’ understanding of the silviculture of single trees and trees in complex systems. This module develops an understanding of the principles and practice of silviculture, the place of silviculture in the sustainable cultivation of trees, and the role it plays in delivering ecosystem services from trees, woodlands and forests. We explore the unique characteristics of forest soils and of soil physical, chemical and biological properties, how these influence site productivity and how these are influenced by land management.

Natural Resource Management: The purpose of this module is to give students a theoretical understanding of the systems approach to managing natural resources to provide various ecosystem services, as well as a practical grounding in the ways in which natural resource managers can draw on a variety of knowledge sources to inform themselves and others of the impacts of land management interventions.

Research Planning and Communication: This module seeks to develop students’ understanding of the role of science and the scientific process in formulating and addressing context relevant questions, and communicating scientific output to different audiences. During the course of the module, students will devise, conduct and write up a policy-relevant scientific study.

Natural Resource Development: The purpose of this module is to introduce the international development context to students and to give a practical grounding in project planning. During the module, students will develop a full project proposal in line with funding guidelines for an agroforestry based natural resource development intervention.

Study Tour: We round off the taught part of the course with a study tour which gives students the opportunity to see the practical application of natural resource management principles that are discussed in earlier parts of the programme. During visits to areas which are managed for a range of objectives, you will meet and discuss with different stakeholders and collect information relevant to a specific research topic.

Part 2:

Dissertation: Execution and written presentation of a suitable scientific project which is devised by the student and an individual academic supervisor and validated by the Programme Director. A suitable project entails a worthwhile scientific question, of direct relevance to the degree programme being undertaken, established within the context of current knowledge and concepts that allows the formulation and testing of one or more hypotheses. This normally involves up to 5 months full-time work, typically including: 2-3 months for data collection from the field, laboratory or computer; 1-2 months for data analysis; and 1-2 months for writing-up.

Previous MSc dissertation projects and training courses held in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre can be viewed here.

Professional Accreditation

This degree is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) and qualifies students for associate membership.

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