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As the pressure on natural resources and ecosystems increases, the urgent need to protect and encourage the sustainable use of these ecosystems grows. Biodiversity conservation is a global priority and in order to influence change in this area, training future ecologists, researchers and policy makers in the skills and knowledge to be able to address these challenges needs to be a priority.

The MSc Biodiversity and Conservation course brings together our research expertise across ecosystems; from the tropics to the Arctic, and from forests to seas. You’ll develop fundamental knowledge about today’s major conservation issues and their human and environmental drivers including urbanisation, tropical logging, climate change, marine pollution, and the balance between sustainable food production and biodiversity.

Read about our latest research in this area.

Course structure

Throughout your course you'll be in the field learning first-hand about conservation issues and the constraints posed by budgets, policy and legislation. Through fieldwork in the Peak District, you'll become familiar with environments and receive training in the principles of experimental design and data collection, equipping you with the key skills to plan and manage your own scientific projects.

During your studies you'll develop an understanding of how environmental change can impact biodiversity and how effectively managing ecosystems can have a positive impact on both biodiversity and the ecosystem itself.

The biggest part of the course is the Independent Research Project. Here you'll spend three months researching an area of biodiversity or conservation that matches your future career aspirations. You could be field-based, lab-based or complete a computational data driven project. Topics may include urbanisation, ecosystem services, tropical deforestation, and marine conservation, among many others.

Current modules - all students will study:

  • Field Biology (15 credits) - learn about the habitat, wildlife, and human context, and gain experience in a range of appropriate methods for data collection during field visits to representative ecosystems in the Peak District.
  • Global Conservation Issues (15 credits) - study major real-world conservation issues through case studies.
  • Agricultural Ecology in a Changing World (15 credits) - learn about agriculture as an ecological system in the context of global change.
  • Changing Global Ecosystems (15 credits) - explore the principles of ecosystem science, showing how human impacts combine with natural processes to drive change in a range of tropical, temperate, boreal and marine ecosystems.
  • Biodiversity in Time and Space (15 credits) - begin practical and theoretical training in how to quantify diversity in time and space.
  • Scientific Skills and Project Management (15 credits) - gain the skills necessary to become a skillful modern researcher.
  • Literature Review (15 credits) - work with your research supervisor to produce a critical review of a biological topic.
  • Independent Research Project (60 credits) - work with your research supervisor to design, conduct, and write-up an independent research project.

Learning, teaching and assessment

You’ll be taught through a combination of field work, laboratory classes, lectures, seminars and problem-solving classes. Assessment includes, but is not limited to, oral presentations, essays, fieldwork, reflective journal entries, examinations, coursework, a portfolio and a dissertation.

After your degree

Graduates will develop the specialist knowledge and transferable skills to pursue careers working around the world or further study to PhD level. Possible career paths include working on conservation or sustainability programmes within government, NGOs including environmental bodies or wildlife trusts, or in the private sector, inspiring the next generation as a university teacher, or solving pressing problems through research in further study to PhD level.

Funding and scholarships

Funding is available, depending on your fee status, where you live and the course you plan to study. You could also qualify for a repayable postgraduate masters loan to help fund your studies.

Find out more.

How to apply

To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form.

Online application form

Early applications are encouraged. Any applications received after all places have been filled will be deferred for entry the following year.


Visit the MSc Biodiversity and Conservation page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!

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