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Conservation - MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Course Description

The Conservation MSc at UCL is widely recognised as the leading programme for aspiring nature conservation professionals. This highly successful degree programme saw its first students graduate in 1960, and nearly 80% of its graduates have gone on to secure posts related to conservation.

Degree information

The programme is strongly interdisciplinary and engages with environmental, social and policy dimensions. It has a vocational orientation, with residential field classes providing first-hand experience of practical conservation challenges. At the same time, the programme provides the scientific rigour needed for evidence-based analysis and understanding of the natural environment, which also forms a sound foundation for a career in academia.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), four optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

A Postgraduate Diploma - four core modules (60 credits) and four optional modules (60 credits) full-time nine months, part-time two years is offered. A Postgraduate Certificate - four core modules (60 credits) full-time 12 weeks, part-time two years is offered.

Core modules
-Scientific Basis for Freshwater and Coastal Conservation
-The Rural Matrix
-Environmental Data Acquisition and Analysis
-Conservation and Environmental Management

Optional modules (indicative list)
-Marine Conservation
-Coastal Change
-Environmental GIS
-Changing Landscapes - Nature, Culture, Politics
-Changing Landscapes - Nature Conservation
-Aquatic Macrophytes
-Politics of Climate Change
-Biological Indicators of Environmental Change
-Non-biological Indicators of Environmental Change

All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and field studies, including a residential field study to a coastal site in Norfolk and a residential field study in Snowdonia, as well as the option to join a two-week field-class to an overseas destination. Assessment is through coursework, essays and the dissertation, which includes a presentation of dissertation results.

Fieldwork includes a residential field study to a coastal site in Norfolk and a residential field study in Snowdonia, as well as the option to join a two-week field-class to an overseas destination. Fieldwork costs may be incurred but these are dependent on module selection; please contact the department for further information on individual modules.


The MSc provides an excellent preparation for employment with the full range of public sector and voluntary conservation organisations, environmental consultancies, or in academia.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Marine Advisor, Natural England
-PhD in Biology, University of York
-People Engagement Officer, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
-DPhil in Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
-Freshwater Ecologist, Ensis

Not least due to the programme's vocational orientation, Conservation MSc graduates have been very successful in securing employment with government organisations (for example DEFRA, Natural England, local councils), conservation NGOs (for example RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, IUCN, WCMC) and environmental consultancies. Equally, the Conservation MSc has provided a very good basis for future academic careers, while some graduates also found employment at zoos and botanical gardens.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The Conservation MSc is run by UCL Geography, which enjoys an outstanding international reputation for its research and teaching.

The programme is unique not only on account of its long history and extensive alumni network, but also due to its vocational orientation and the active involvement of nature conservation professionals in the delivery of degree material.

Research groups contributing to this MSc include those concerned with environmental change; environmental modelling; and environment, science and society. The programme also benefits from the participation of staff from a variety of external conservation and environmental organisations.

Visit the Conservation - MSc/PGDip/PGCert page on the University College London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Stefanie Goodrich

"I find inspiration in nature everyday – from the fleeting moments of a bird fledging its nest to issues on a larger scale, such as the problem of invasive species in the UK. This inspiration drove me to study Conservation on an academic level in order to gain a higher understanding of environmental issues and the policy behind them. I am fascinated by the science behind ecology and conservation, so studying at UCL has put me in direct contact with the latest scientific research."

(Student Profile)

Lauren Bishop Vranch

"I've had the opportunity to learn from academics in diverse fields such as biodiversity of invertebrates and framings of climate change. There has been a great mix of practical and theoretical study, combining lectures with field classes and laboratory work. The department encourages visits and talks from former students who are now working in conservation and environmental roles. This has helped to show the types of roles available to graduates and facilitates networking opportunities."


Entry Requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applications with relevant professional experience in conservation or environmental management will also be considered.

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