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MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology

Course Description

This MSc is taught by the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC http://biosciences.exeter.ac.uk/cec/), whose evolutionary and behaviour research groups are amongst the most dynamic in the UK. As an MSc student you will be integrated into these groups and conduct cutting-edge research projects that aim to make genuine contributions to the field of evolutionary and behavioural ecology. The goal is to prepare you for a future research career.

The Centre is the fastest growing institute of its kind in the UK and an integral part of the School of Biosciences at the Penryn Campus. Research is almost exclusively organismal, with particular emphasis on social mammals, birds, turtles and insects. We also specialise in modelling animal behaviour and species interactions and see this as essential and complementary to our whole approach. The other area of emphasis which underpins much of our work is quantitative and molecular genetics; fundamental to the evolutionary process and to conservation biology and policy issues.

Programme overview

- Delivered by leading international researchers in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, who regularly publish in peer-reviewed journals;
- Designed to prepare you for a future research career with excellent graduate employment opportunities. In the first year of operation, 78 per cent of our students had secured a PhD position before finishing the programme;
- Provides extensive training in current research techniques;
- Develops knowledge and critical awareness of current problems and new insights in evolutionary and behavioural ecology, much of which is at, or informed by, study at the forefront of the field;
- Offers access to excellent facilities including state-of-the-art molecular and genetics labs with a full range of microscopy equipment, greenhouses, aviary and controlled environment rooms. (http://biosciences.exeter.ac.uk/facilities/cornwall/)


The census research projects will see you spending a considerable amount of time in the field collecting data at several key research sites in West Cornwall and interacting with local NGOs (Cornwall Wildlife Trust, South West Lakes Trust).

This programme includes a two week field course in Kenya and will include visits to some of Africa’s largest and most important game reserves, as well as an introduction to some of the day-to-day problems faced by conservation biologists in developing nations. You will study the behaviour of animals in a natural ecological setting with a focus on large mammals, birds and insects.

Find out more about our field course modules at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/biosciences/fieldwork/. You can also keep up to date and share the experiences of our students in the field on our Field Course Fortnight website at http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/fieldcourses/ .

Learning and teaching

The taught component of this programme is delivered in the first five months, during which time you will be encouraged to develop your census research projects. The rest of the academic year is dedicated to these projects.

Teaching and learning methods

All material is designed for Masters level and will involve fieldwork, seminars and group discussion. Within modules there is considerable scope for you to direct your learning towards fields of particular interest, especially through your choice of research project. Students are located in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation laboratories, where close working relationships are fostered. Every student has the personal and academic support of the programme director, as well as their academic tutor, module leaders and project supervisors. Because of the layout of our research laboratory, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students interact closely with postgraduates to provide more personal support during the research phase of the programme.

Programme structure

The programme is made up of compulsory modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

Compulsory modules

The compulsory modules can include; Research Project; Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology; Approaches in Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology; African Behavioural Ecology Field Course; Statistical Modelling and Key Skills

Visit the MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology page on the University of Exeter website for more details!

Student Profiles

Funding for Postgraduate Study - 20+ Awards

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships and studentships for talented students. For 2016 entry, the total value of scholarships for taught postgraduate programmes exceeds £500,000. This is in addition to over 100 PhD studentships we make available each year.Students who reside in England and are interested in our Masters programmes can now take advantage of the UK government's postgraduate loan scheme which offers loans of up to £10,000.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Varies, but most awards are competitive and merit-based.

Application Procedure

Please see the details of each scheme as listed in our search: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/search

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Normally at least a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a science subject, although non-science backgrounds may be considered. Please see website for full details.

Last Updated

02 August 2017

Course Fees

See our website for more information (click on "Finance") website

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