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MPhil in Conservation Leadership

Course Description

The MPhil degree in Conservation Leadership is a full-time, 11-month, Masters course aimed at graduates of leadership potential with usually at least three to five years of relevant professional experience, either in employment or in a voluntary capacity. The unique features of this course are its delivery by a partnership between several university departments and conservation organisations based around Cambridge, and its focus on issues of management and leadership. Consequently, the course aims to deliver a world-class and interdisciplinary education in Conservation Leadership that is not available elsewhere.

The MPhil in Conservation Leadership aims to train students to address the challenges of biodiversity conservation in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner, by focusing on an understanding of the root causes of ecosystem change and biodiversity loss. The goal is not only to develop conservationists with greater awareness of the complex drivers of biodiversity loss, but to develop the ability to act and lead effectively. This includes the development of professional management and leadership skills including strategic planning, finance and accounting, HR management/planning, innovation, entrepreneurship and the management of change. The course fosters and develops the leadership of its students by promoting their capacity to understand the links among the drivers of biodiversity loss, and to think creatively about conservation solutions across organizational and political boundaries and economic sectors, and by developing their confidence and maturity of judgment.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/eaggmpmcl

Course detail

The course has two taught elements: (i) course work modules; and (ii) professional placement.

Learning Outcomes:

- To foster and develop leadership skills including strategic planning, finance and accounting, and HR management/planning, innovation, entrepreneurship and the management of change.

- To train students to address the challenges of biodiversity conservation in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner, by focusing on an understanding of the root causes of ecosystem change and biodiversity loss


Formal coursework (6 core modules) is concentrated in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms, from October to March, and students follow six substantive modules spread over these two terms. Assessed course work relating to these modules is completed by the start of the Easter Term. The taught elements of the course offer: (i) inter-disciplinarity across the social and biological sciences; (ii) integration with management and leadership skills; and (iii) an emphasis on practice through engagement with conservation professionals.

Professional placements start to be developed during the first two terms in collaboration with their supervisors. Students work on a specific project which addresses a carefully defined conservation leadership challenge. The professional placement is undertaken over the Easter Term from April to June, and Summer, from July to August, and an assessed Placement Report is submitted at the end of this period.


The Placements on this MPhil aim (i) to give students the opportunity to develop applied conservation leadership skills, (ii) to put into practice some of the ideas and methods learned during the taught component of the course, and (iii) to allow students to follow their personal interests by carrying out an in-depth piece of work on an issue or problem that particularly interests them.

Students can either select their placement from a list of ideas provided by the CCI partner organisations and circulated in the Michaelmas term, or develop their own ideas and approach potential supervisors directly. Placements can be within a University department or a conservation organisation, and can include fieldwork away from Cambridge. Students will be expected to make a presentation on their proposed work to a forum during the Lent Term, and to produce a detailed logframe for their placement during the Easter Term.


- Placement report of not more than 10,000 words. (40% of the marks)
- 4 essays (4,000 words each)
- 2 coursework (project) submissions.
- 1 group presentation and associated essay
- A discretionary oral examination on any or all of the assessed components of the MPhil


70% or more overall score in MPhil.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

International students from cash poor, but biodiversity-rich countries, attract a range of scholarships. These scholarship may originate either from the applicants’ home country, or from sources available in Cambridge. Please see the Masters in Conservation Leadership website for further details http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/graduate/mphil/conservation/funding.html

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in Conservation Leadership page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Therese Rudebeck

"I would highly recommend the MPhil in Geographical Research to anyone who is thinking about doing a PhD, or who is interested in pursuing his/her own research project for a year. The MPhil provides excellent training in research skills and independent work, and gives the student a chance test new ideas and develop a pilot study, as well as to familiarize his/herself with the department and the supervisor(s). I found that this MPhil bridged my M.A and my PhD, and placed me in a very advantageous position for further research."

(Student Profile)

Jonathan Hughes

The MPhil in Geographical Studies was great preparation for the PhD. It's like having an extra first year in which to get a handle on your chosen subject and to develop your skills as a researcher.


Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK II.i Honours Degree. At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent and three to five years relevant postgraduate work experience. Find University Minimum Academic Requirements here View Website

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