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Course Content

Course content

This course is designed to develop the professional and field skills, including identification and survey techniques, required for effective conservation. It will familiarise you with the key ecological concepts underlying evidence-based conservation. You will produce professional reports and assessments and undertake monitoring of species and communities. You will also gain additional skills essential for conservation practitioners, for example:
- knowledge of international and national wildlife legislation, planning law and environmental policy

- IT competencies, including Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

- an understanding of the ecological requirements of different species and the implications of environmental change

- an ability to statistically interpret field data.

The course has two pathways: one is focused on conservation within the UK/EU and the other focuses on conservation at the International level.

See the website http://www.brookes.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/conservation-ecology/

Why choose this course?

- Our lecturers conduct first-class research in conservation ecology.

- We have strong links with many conservation organisations and research institutions, such as the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, RSPB, Fauna and Flora International, TRAFFIC and Conservation International, providing excellent project opportunities and enhancing career prospects.

- Focusing on the practical application of theory means graduates can adapt quickly to the demands of the conservation professions. We develop your field skills including identification techniques, required when undertaking biodiversity surveys.

- Research-informed teaching keeps our students up to date with the latest thinking. Equipping you with current conservation legislation and practice is essential in the context of rapidly-changing demands on land use.

- We develop your transferable skills, particularly communication, organisation and research planning, which will assist you when carrying out your project and prepare you for a career in conservation ecology.

- On successful completion of the MSc, you will be able to apply for graduate membership of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

Professional accreditation

CIEEM accreditation indicates that a key professional body recognises that we offer our students the opportunity to develop the key skills needed for employment in conservation ecology. Additionally our students have access to vital information about current developments in ecology and consultancy and can benefit from all that CIEEM offers.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning methods reflect the wide variety of topics associated with conservation ecology, and include field visits and exercises, lectures, directed reading, workshops, seminars, practical exercises, laboratory sessions and project work. A key component of the course is developing field skills, including species identification. Techniques for identification are taught in the field and in laboratory sessions, using expertise from the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences and, where appropriate, from the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History.

As needed, you will be taught by guest speakers who are conservation practitioners or who work in conservation research organisations. Some parts of the course share modules with master’s provision in Environmental Assessment and Management and also in Primate Conservation. This cross-disciplinary nature for certain aspects of the course is a key strength.

Field trips

We use the varied landscape of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire as our natural laboratory, and the course has a large practical component, developing survey and assessment methods as well as identification skills. This landscape is used to illustrate major conservation issues as well. Most of this field work is conducted as part of the modules during semesters but we also have a field skills based period at the end of the taught component of the course and offer opportunities to work towards gaining specialist licences, which are invaluable for consultancy work.

There are no extra costs associated with the fieldwork components of this MSc.

Work placement and professional recognition

We encourage you to conduct your research project with conservation organisations or with one of our research groups. We have good links with a range of national and local conservation organisations and ecological consultancies. On successful completion of this MSc, you will be eligible to apply for graduate membership of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. With an additional two years' work experience, you will be eligible to apply for associate membership.

How this course helps you develop

We help you to develop links with potential employers, often through project work, and we encourage contact with practitioners throughout the course. The course is underpinned by theory but there is an emphasis on developing practical skills, including industry standard survey techniques and species identification skills. We also provide opportunities to develop techniques for data handling and analysis along with a focus on professional communication skills. We encourage all our students to learn from their peers as well, helping to develop essential teamworking skills.


Graduates of this course gain employment primarily with environmental consultancies or agencies, conservation organisations or charities, or continue academic research as a PhD student. Some of our past students are currently working for environmental consultants, the RSPB, the Environment Agency, DEFRA and Natural England.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Research highlights

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 95% of our research in Biological Sciences was rated as internationally recognised, with 58% being world leading or internationally excellent. That makes us the top post’ 92 University for its Biological Sciences submission.

In addition to this research which underpins our teaching, our Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation is developing the use of mobile applications for data collection and processing in the field. Our Phase One Toolkit, which was developed by staff who deliver our MSc Conservation Ecology, with student input, is widely used by consultancies, demonstrating that our students have access to innovative data collection tools.

Visit the Conservation Ecology (MSc/ PGDip/ PGCert) page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!





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