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MSc Ecology and Conservation

Course Description

Meeting career aspirations

Our MSc programme provides flexibility to enable you to gain knowledge and skills to meet your career aspirations, whether in research or as a practicing ecologist. The programme runs through a full year, starting with a field course and culminating in a major research project. You will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience of everything from field survey to chairing discussions, from statistics and modelling to report writing and from identifying important ecological questions to researching them and writing a scientific paper. Previous graduates have gone on to the top of their chosen profession in research, consultancy, conservation, policy, education and advocacy.

Course content

You will get to know your peers at the outset on a week-long field research skills course held at our field centre in the stunning surroundings of Bettyhill on the north coast of Sutherland https://www.abdn.ac.uk/sbs/outreach/bettyhill-field-station.php . This is followed by core training in plant community ecology, animal population ecology, GIS and experimental design and analysis (which includes use of R). Thereafter, you select from our broad palette of courses. Students wishing to gain research training may take advantage of our renowned suite of advanced statistical and modelling courses which focus on techniques used in ecology and conservation. Those interested in applied ecology may choose to study catchment management, marine spatial management and conservation management planning, among others. A key course for those aiming to work in consultancy is Environmental Impact Assessment. The opportunity to place your ecological study in a broader, interdisciplinary context is provided through very popular courses on ecology, conservation and society and readings in ecology and conservation. In the final semester you will complete a research project which enables you to develop expertise and contacts in a topic of your own choosing. Preparation may begin as early in the year as you like, as you discuss ideas with staff and with external organisations.

Why choose Aberdeen for Ecology and Conservation?

• Aberdeen provides you with a unique learning environment with unrivalled access to coastal, mountain and freshwater habitats for both fieldwork and recreation.
• The University has a long tradition and excellent reputation for teaching and research in Ecology and is home to one of the largest and most vibrant groups of academics in this subject area in Britain. Masters ecology has been taught here for over 50 years and our generations of graduates are to be found in leadership in ecological professions around the world.
• You will be taught by ecologists who are internationally renowned researchers and experts in their field, and who are actively involved in the application of ecological research to environmental management and nature conservation. Our plant and soil ecology group is ranked number 1 in the UK for overall research excellence (REF 2014).
• We have excellent links with organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage http://www.snh.gov.uk/ , RSPB http://www.rspb.org.uk/ , and the James Hutton Institute http://www.hutton.ac.uk/ and their staff contribute to our courses.
• The programme is flexible so that you can choose the extent to which you wish to focus on gaining research skills or applied ecology skills, or to combine both.
• The programme is skills-based, meaning that as well as learning theory you will be continually applying that knowledge to real world tasks and situations.
• Your project will become a key feature of your CV and is often a first step to further research or a job. In helping you develop your project we enable you to link in to our vast network of colleagues and organisations within the academic, non-governmental, government and industrial sectors.

Visit the MSc Ecology and Conservation page on the Aberdeen University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Aisling Connolly

4155.png Ecological Consultant at Environmental Resources Management

“ERM are a global consultancy with a good reputation….. Within the ecology team, they were aware of the Aberdeen MSc Ecology course and knew that it was comprehensive and intensive. I would not have got the job without my MSc.”

(Student Profile)

Chris Sutherland

4158.png Assistant Professor of Population Ecology, Cornell University USA

"My education at Aberdeen, specifically the excellent quantitative training, has completely shaped my career. Ecology and environmental sciences in general is becoming increasingly quantitative. I think MSc teaching at Aberdeen is ahead of this curve."

(Student Profile)

Nicole Pearson

4160.png Greenspace Officer at Dundee City Council

“My MSc helped open doors to environmental jobs that I would not have been offered otherwise. I loved every moment of the MSc…. I particularly liked the opportunities to develop my communication skills and to learn GIS, which I use often in my current job. My confidence in my own abilities improved greatly through studying this course at Aberdeen.”


Aberdeenshire Regional Scholarships - 20+ Awards

We are offering assistance to workers left unemployed as a result of the downturn, specifically in the UK oil and gas sector by offering a 20% discount across a range of postgraduate energy programmes.The offer is open to people who live in Aberdeen City or Shire and have been working in the oil and gas sector.The discount applies to full-time and part-time programmes starting in September 2016 (and some starting in January 2017) spanning several disciplines including engineering, business, law, geosciences, natural and computing sciences, and biological sciences.

Value of Scholarship(s)

20% fee discount


You will live in an Aberdeen City or Aberdeenshire postcode and have been working in the oil and gas sector
You must apply and be accepted for an eligible programme
When applying online you must upload a separate document evidencing how the downturn in the oil and gas sector has resulted in your unemployment
You must not be eligible to receive any other University scholarship or discount

Application Procedure


Further Information



SAAS Tuition fee and living cost loans - 20+ Awards

Postgraduate tuition fee loan
The funding available is a loan to help you pay all or some of your tuition fees up to a maximum of £3,400 for full-time courses, and up to £1,700 for part-time courses. If you choose to take out a loan to pay all or some of the fees, you will do so on the same terms as a student loan for living costs.
If you withdraw from your course, you may not be eligible for a loan to help with the cost of your fees. However, your university may still charge you fees for the time you have been on the course.Postgraduate living cost loan
Eligible full-time postgraduate students can apply to us for a living-cost loan up to £4,500. To be eligible for the living-cost loan, in addition to meeting our eligibility conditions above, you must:
•be under 50 on the first day of the first academic year of your course of education (the relevant date); or
•Be aged 50 to 54 on the relevant date and plan to return to employment after completing your course
If you change course and are aged 55 or over on the relevant date of your new course, regardless of which year you enter your new course, you will not be entitled to a living-cost loan for your new course.
The living-cost loan is not available to part-time postgraduate students.

Value of Scholarship(s)

£3,400 + £4,500


UK and EU students must have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the EU or Switzerland for the three years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of the course (the relevant date, usually 1 August). You must also be ordinarily resident in Scotland on the relevant date. If you are not a UK or other EU national, you must also have ‘settled status’ in the UK (as set out in the Immigration Act 1971) on the relevant date. If you have not been living in the UK, you may still qualify depending on your circumstances.

Application Procedure

see http://www.saas.gov.uk/how_to_apply/pg.htm

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A second (2:2) class Honours degree or equivalent in a biological science, geography, environmental science, maths, physics or computer science. We look at applications on a case by case basis and in recent years we have also accepted individuals with a range of backgrounds including first degrees in English, Philosophy and Social Sciences who were clearly motivated by the programme and had some work experience in a relevant field, for example ecological consultancy, conservation, etc. Applicants whose first language is not english should note that english language proficiency is also required, more details on this can be found at View Website

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Recipient: Aberdeen University
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