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.
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.
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.
Wildlife conservation is increasingly urgent in today’s world. With this comes a growing demand for people with specialist academic and practical skills to apply to this problem. Our course offers you an exciting opportunity to train in the discipline of wildlife forensics, in which the University of Chester is a pioneer.
We offer this novel area of wildlife conservation in a short course to update or further develop your existing skills. This will be done through the sharing of our expertise in field and lab-based research.
Our staff are passionately involved in pioneering projects, and have helped to lead the development of Wildlife Forensics as an academic subject area, having held the first international conference in October 2010. You will have the opportunity to work closely with staff in this exciting area.
You will study Wildlife Crime, supported by Conservation Genetics – two disciplines in which the Department has been a pioneer. You will also have the key opportunity to deepen your analytical techniques through the Biodiversity Informatics offering.
Teaching is delivered through Moodle, internet discussion boards, and residential school. Residential school includes lectures, lab sessions, field trips and tutorials. Your learning will include tutor-led, self-directed and peer-based learning.
Sessions are typically delivered over a 10-week period; however, some modules are delivered through week-long workshop/lab sessions or field trips.
Modules typically require 200 hours of study time, including:
- 21 hours of lectures, seminars, group discussions and laboratory/ field activities
- 10 hours of tutorial support
- 169 hours of directed self-study.
Assessment is via continuous assessment – e.g. lab/essay assignments; critical assessments/reviews; reports; in-class individual/group oral presentations; portfolios and preparation and presentation of posters. There are no examinations.
Dr Howard Nelson is a tropical wildlife biologist and forester, whose interests include sustainable use of wildlife, threatened species conservation and Neotropical forest ecology. To find our more about Dr Nelson please visit: https://www.chester.ac.uk/departments/biological-sciences/staff/dr-h-p-nelson
If you are interested in this courses we have a number of opportunities to visit us and our campuses. To find out more about these options and to book a visit, please go to: https://www1.chester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-visit-opportunities
If you would like to know more about the University please request a prospectus at: http://prospectus.chester.ac.uk/form.php
Innovation in forensics
Active research staff