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Course content

Are you passionate about animal welfare and keen to shape the management of the zoos of the future? Students from over 20 nationalities have chosen our unique programme, the first of its kind in the world. Study factors affecting animal behaviour, conservation, welfare and their interactions, as well as international zoo management and collaboration. Our partnership with Paignton Zoo gives you regular access to their connections, research and expertise – so you’re primed to make a difference.

Key features

-Delivered in conjunction with the staff at Paignton Zoo and its parent body, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust which also owns Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts.
-Develop your scientific knowledge, professional and technical skills as a conservation biologist. Learn how to manage animal collections for the purpose of education, conservation and wildlife research.
-Study aspects of animal behaviour and ecology, as well as how welfare, housing, nutrition and health all have a part to play in species management.
-Learn to troubleshoot problems at the level of a social group within a particular zoological collection, right up to the level of a species globally. Explore how breeding programmes for endangered species are international in scope.
-Benefit from the knowledge and guidance of Plymouth University’s expert staff with specialisms including the behaviour of captive animals, animal nutrition, the welfare of captive birds and the application of population genetics to captive and natural fish populations.
-Find out how the science of zoos is used to inform government policy. Two of our teaching team are the only academic representatives on the government’s Zoos Expert Committee.
-Get behind-the-scenes insight with a day of study each week with our partners at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. Deepen your understanding of the business and conservation work of zoos, and how networks and collaborations work between them.
-Access the latest research and information from the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, including information on their co-ordinated breeding programmes for endangered species.
-Be inspired by opportunities to visit a range of zoos in the region – including Dartmoor, Bristol and Newquay – and to travel abroad for research projects. A recent student travelled to Louisiana Zoo for her research project on golden tamarin monkeys.
-Graduates work in zoos as educators, researchers, managers and keepers. Many go on to PhD study or work in further education. Other employers include the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria; the Natural History Unit (BBC); national and international conservation organisations.

Course details

As a full-time student, you’ll study seven modules taking in everything from genetics to environmental enrichment, preventative health to budgeting. We update modules to reflect current thinking and you can specialise within them. If you’re interested in working with tigers, for example, this can be reflected across your work. You’ll be assessed through coursework with practical tasks focused on your future career. Core modules include introduction to zoo organisation, animal conservation, applied animal behaviour and management, animal metabolism and nutrition, animal health and welfare and business management. You’ll then do a final three-month research project of your choice. Previous investigations have included everything from female mate choice in white faced saki monkeys to how peripheral and/or invasive activity affects the behaviour and enclosure use of captive sand tiger sharks.

Core modules
-BIO505 Research Project
-ANIM5006 Contemporary Zoo Management
-BIO5131 Postgraduate Research Skills & Methods
-ANIM5005 Zoo Animal Behaviour and Welfare
-ANIM5007 Small Population Conservation
-ANIM5008 Conservation Ecology and Society
-ANIM5009 Zoo Animal Health, Nutrition and Management

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

Visit the Zoo Conservation Biology - MSc page on the Plymouth University website for more details!

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