|Duration||1 year full time|
- Delivered by internationally-recognised experts
- Examine how conservation goals may be achieved under climate change scenarios, in combination with food security requirements, while taking social justice issues into account
- Enjoy the flexibility to pursue those areas most relevant to your professional development
- Get involved with conservation practitioners from a wide range of collaborating governmental and non-governmental organisations
- Take part in the Kenya field course, which includes visits to some of East Africa’s most famous conservation areas
Top 10 in the UK for world-leading and internationally excellent research
Research Excellence Framework 2014 based on the percentage of research categorised as 4* and 3*
11th in the world for Ecology
ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021
14th in the UK for Biological Sciences
The Complete University Guide 2022
High-quality research supervision, with access to excellent facilities
All applicants are considered individually on merit, although we usually require an Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1 or equivalent) in a relevant discipline.
This programme examines both scientific and policy-oriented aspects of conservation. Teaching covers the breadth of this important field, examining how conservation goals may be achieved under climate change scenarios, in combination with food security requirements, while taking social justice issues into account. The breadth of the degree gives flexibility to pursue those areas most relevant to your professional development and contains a significant research component supported by leading researchers.
Integral to the whole programme is extensive liaison with conservation practitioners from a wide range of collaborating governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as a broad suite of international organisations. Key individuals from some of these organisations contribute to classes and field visits and a number of our project students will be placed with such organisations.
A special feature of the programme is the Kenya field course. The trip provides you with opportunities to see first-hand how conservation science operates within particular policy contexts.
This Masters is based on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall home to the University's Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) – a £30 million centre leading cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research into solutions to problems of environmental change and enhancing people’s lives by improving their relationship with the environment.
The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
I have really enjoyed the diversity of people on campus, and the passion of the lecturers and how excited they are about their topics! My favourite module is statistics, although it was very challenging at first! I’m so excited about going to Kenya for the field trip!
When I first arrived in Cornwall it was very overwhelming. The Penryn Campus is very different to where I come from in the Maldives, but I love it now and couldn’t recommend it enough. The campus is very beautiful, and a fantastic place to study!
The lecturers are all really helpful and accessible and the course content is interesting and applicable to my future career. When I graduate, I want to be involved in the policy field and am considering further study in research.
MSc Conservation Science and Policy
UK fees per year:
£14,500 full-time; £7,250 part-time
International fees per year:
£25,500 full-time; £12,750 part-time
The fees include costs of all field trips including a 2-week residential course to Africa.
We invest heavily in scholarships for talented prospective Masters students. For information on how you can fund your postgraduate degree at the University of Exeter, please visit our dedicated funding page.
Teaching and research
How will I learn?
- Group discussion
- Independent study
There is considerable scope for you to direct your learning towards fields of particular interest, especially through your choice of research project. Research seminars will see you interacting with a diversity of top academics and get to know about their ongoing research.
A large number of University of Exeter academics will be involved with this programme and they will offer a great diversity of research topics within their projects in the UK and overseas. There is also the option to work with an external collaborating organisation as a placement student during your research project, which could be located anywhere in the world.
Each student is allocated a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There is also a postgraduate tutor available to help with further guidance and advice.
Taught modules will be assessed through formal oral presentation, written reports, essays and discussions, during or upon the immediate completion of these modules. The research project makes up a significant proportion of the assessment and is mainly based on the dissertation write up.
This programme includes a two-week African field course that aims to present the philosophy, sociology, ecology, and practice of large-scale conservation. A practical understanding of these issues will be developed through visits to some of Africa’s most important protected areas, and through an introduction to some of the day-to-day problems faced by conservation practitioners in developing nations.
You will develop your field skills through tutoring in taxonomy, ecology, biogeography, conservation, and community liaison, applying a variety of practical techniques during group observation and data collection exercises. You will engage in small group seminars to review and synthesise observations made across a range of African habitats, discussing the ecological, sociological, political, and economic issues relating to conservation in Africa and other developing regions of the world. Travel and subsistence costs for this part of the programme are included in the programme fee.
In the field, we expect to see charismatic fauna such as hippopotami, elephants, lions, and cheetahs. Expert academic staff provide information on ecology, biogeography, and conservation policy and practice, while also discussing human-wildlife conflicts. Game drives, boating trips, and hikes allow students to see first-hand the effects of a wealth of conservation policies enforced – or not – by agencies at the local, regional, and national level.
You can keep up to date and share the experiences of our current students in the field on our Global Field Course website.
This field course seeks to explore and understand the implications of conservation policy for Kenyan ecosystems and the humans and wildlife who live within them. Central to this goal is an analysis of Kenya Vision 2030, a framework developed by the Kenyan government to promote both economic prosperity and environmental health – two achievements that are often in conflict. Keeping in mind the aims of this influential policy document, you will travel to a range of Kenyan habitats and debate how to balance ecological and economic goals.
While exploring savannahs, lakes, and montane forests, we visit with a variety of stakeholders, including industrialists, conservationists, government officials, and NGO employees. You'll also have a rare opportunity to interview Maasai tribespeople in order to understand how indigenous peoples are affected by urban growth – and to hear about conservation solutions that can simultaneously help protect both the Maasai culture and the ecosystems in which the tribespeople live.
In the field, we expect to see charismatic fauna such as hippopotami, elephants, lions, and cheetahs. Expert academic staff from the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus provide information on ecology, biogeography, and evolution, while also discussing whether these species are best served by top-down or bottom-up conservation approaches. Game drives, boating trips, and hikes allow students to see first-hand the effects of a wealth of conservation policies enforced – or not – by agencies at the local, regional, and national level.
On this field course you will learn how to interact with a range of stakeholders, interpret policy, evaluate scientific and sociological data, and navigate difficult discussions about conservation. This endows you with the confidence needed to critically engage with complex management issues not just in Kenya, but anywhere in the world. After returning to the UK, you will have an opportunity to share your newfound knowledge and expertise at a poster session where you individually present an analysis of one of the issues you learned about during the field course.
The course as a whole is incredibly well structured with invaluable and interesting content. For me, the most enjoyable aspect has to be the world-class guest speakers we're lucky enough to have host seminars for the students. Each week there are inspiring people visiting, covering a huge array of topics and from different sectors including academics, NGOs and government organisations.
MSc Conservation Science and Policy
Employer-valued skills this course develops
Our MSc Conservation Science and Policy is aimed at individuals who are interested in working at the interface of environmental science and social science. The programme has been developed with recent graduates in mind as well as more professionally experienced individuals, for example people currently employed in fields of conservation or related areas, who wish to develop further their knowledge and research skills.
We are committed to providing you with quality personal support throughout your degree to ensure that when you leave us, you feel informed, prepared, and well equipped to reach your full potential in your future career.
As a graduate of the programme you will be well prepared to pursue a variety of career paths in areas such as:
- Public sector conservation and policy
- Environmental and conservation consultancy services
- Non-governmental and charity work
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
You will also be ideally placed if you wish to progress to doctoral research in social or life sciences.
Our careers teams at the Career Zone can help guide you through a wealth of information to match your skills and interests to a career that will suit you. Our staff work with regional, national and international employers to develop new work placement, project and graduate opportunities.
Supporting your career
Being part of a large research intensive department means there are multiple extracurricular research seminars per week and frequent on-campus symposia and employability focused seminars involving invited external stakeholders offering extensive networking opportunities.