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As the number of species facing extinction continues to grow at an alarming rate, conservation biologists are in greater demand than ever before. This MSc is your pathway to a worthwhile career tackling one of society’s most pressing concerns.

  • Deepen your understanding of the scientific principles underpinning conservation biology and explore practical solutions to environmental problems
  • Study a course recognised for its high academic quality: this MSc is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences
  • Gain the practical experience you need for a fulfilling career in conservation or environmental management
  • Undertake a training-based placement to build the skills and qualities most valued by employers 
  • Conduct fieldwork and research in some of the country’s outstanding natural environments: the Peak District National Park is right on our doorstep
  • Take a global perspective: in the past our students have even studied in Singapore as part of our Tropical Conservation Biology module
  • Be inspired by our highly qualified and experienced teaching team who are conducting influential national and international research

If you have your sights set on a career in conservation, habitat management or environmental consultancy, this MSc offers an excellent grounding in the skills and knowledge you need.

Expertise to make a difference

Over 15,000 species are now threatened with extinction, according to theWorld Conservation Union Red List. In fact, current extinction rates are estimated to be up to 10,000 times higher than they would naturally be. There is an urgent need for skilled, forward-thinking conservation biologists who can help reverse this trend.

Our MSc Conservation Biology combines strong theoretical knowledge and practical abilities. You’ll explore the reasons why so many species are endangered and develop vital skills in the management of wildlife and environments. Building on a firm understanding of theory, you’ll find practical solutions to environmental management problems.

The course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), which means that it reflects the high standards, ethics and values expected of environmental professionals.  

Practical challenges throughout

In the field and the laboratory alike, you’ll have the chance to hone your practical skills in everything from species identification to ecological surveys, sampling methods to statistical analyses.

Our facilities have recently been modernised to offer a first-rate learning environment. They include a glasshouse featuring plants from diverse habitats, an insectary housing many different species, and specialist laboratories. The latest addition to our facilities is our Aquatic Research Facility, which has been developed in collaboration with the Sealife Centre, Birmingham. We also have a student research lab where you will have a dedicated space to pursue your independent studies.

Exciting fieldwork in great locations

We bring theory to life with fascinating fieldwork opportunities. You’ll take full advantage of studying close to the stunning landscapes and diverse habitats of the Peak District National Park.

Conservation is a global priority so some students have ventured overseas to conduct their investigations. Groups taking our Tropical Conservation Biology module have, for instance, explored the primary rainforest, mangrove communities and seashore wildlife of Singapore.

Placement opportunities

To enhance your employability, the MSc includes an optional training-based placement. You’ll work with a host organisation such as a local authority, environmental consultancy, zoo or educational institution to experience ‘real world’ scenarios.

The focus of your placement will be on linking theory with practical investigations and problem-solving. You could find yourself exploring issues such as biodiversity, conservation, flood defence, or environmental contamination and remediation.

A vibrant scientific community

We pride ourselves on a learning community which sparks curiosity and nurtures active minds. You’re encouraged to pursue your own specialist interests and, as part of the MSc, you’ll undertake a major independent project to produce a piece of original research which contributes to the world of conservation.

The University hosts an exciting range of special events and talks by leading scientists which will give you insights into latest research and developments within conservation. Subjects have covered everything from the threats facing our bumblebee populations to the evolutionary origins of the dodo. We also have wide-ranging academic collaborations with national and international partners which could open doors for you.

How you will learn

You’ll be taught through lectures, guest lectures, workshops, practical sessions in the field and laboratory, and tutorials. There is also the opportunity to go on site visits.

The majority of modules are assessed by coursework rather than by exams. A wide range of assessment methods are used, from oral presentations and poster displays, to scientific and professional reports.


During this course you'll have the opportunity to go on fieldtrips, allowing you to gain first-hand practical experience and learn new skills, such as site surveying and species identification.

Work placements

Our course also gives you the opportunity to apply the theory you learn to a working environment. If you take the optional module 'Practical Training Based Placement Module, you will have the opportunity to complete work placements. Examples of organisations you might work with include: local authorities, industry, businesses, HE institutions, zoos, or environmental/ecological consultants.

Visit the Conservation Biology (MSc) page on the University of Derby website for more details!





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