MSc Conservation and Biodiversity

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • Biosciences
LocationCornwall (Penryn)
Start date September


MSc Conservation and Biodiversity video

Find out more from staff and students about the MSc Conservation and Biodiversity programme. View full size.

  • Designed in consultation with multiple external agencies to ensure relevant training that maximises graduate employability
  • Offers substantial field work opportunities in the UK and overseas
  • Provides opportunities to connect with external agencies and organisations to further enhance your training
  • Delivered by leading international researchers in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation
  • Offers access to excellent facilities including state-of-the-art research laboratories, greenhouses and controlled environment rooms
  • Comprises modules that target both research and practical conservation skills

This Masters programme is taught at our Penryn Campus in Cornwall by staff at the renowned Centre for Ecology and Conservation. The course boasts a significant research component, with substantial fieldwork opportunities in the UK as well as a field course in Africa. A distinctive and integral feature of our MSc is the high degree of input from conservationists in collaborating governmental and non-governmental organisations. This participation takes a variety of forms, including guest lectures, field visits and specific training courses, but may also include providing research projects in their organisations. Collaborating organisations include: Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Marine Conservation Society, Natural England, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Zoological Society of London.

This applied degree provides excellent employability, with our recent alumni moving onto ecological consultancy work, government conservation programmes, NGO conservation projects and fully funded PhD positions in ecology and conservation.

“I have really enjoyed the flexibility and variety of module choices on the programme and the amount of skills I developed in each one"


Sarita, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity. Sarita

Programme structure

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.

Learning and teaching

The taught component of this programme is delivered in the first five months. During this time, you will also familiarise yourself with the scientific literature on the topic of your research project, to which you will devote the remainder of the academic year.

Teaching and learning methods

All material is designed for Masters level and will involve fieldwork, seminars and group discussion. Within modules there is considerable scope for you to direct your learning towards fields of particular interest, especially through your choice of research project.


Taught modules will be assessed through formal oral presentation, written reports and discussions, during or upon the immediate completion of these modules. A significant proportion of the assessment is based on the research project and associated literature review and oral presentation. Modules run by other departments may have formal exams.

Advice and support

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.

During the MSc, I gained some really invaluable basic skills that are rarely covered in most Masters programmes such as: how to design and present oral and poster presentation, preparing a quality CV, writing a grant proposal, etc. I still have the instruction and templates from when I was a student and have referenced them several times during my professional career.

After working for several different organisations, I now work for the Joint Region Marianas Office (at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge) as the Conservation Resource Program Manager. Through my 10-plus year career since graduating, I would say that all of the coursework we studied in the MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity has surfaced at one time or another. 

Jennifer, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate.


Kenya field course

Join staff and students on their MSc field course in Kenya from the University of Exeter where they are focusing on the biodiversity and conservation of this exciting region. View full size.

The census research projects will see you spending a considerable amount of time in the field collecting data at several key research sites in West Cornwall and interacting with local NGOs (Cornwall Wildlife Trust, South West Lakes Trust).

This programme includes a two week field course in Kenya, during which you will visit some of Africa’s largest and most important game reserves, and receive an introduction to some of the day-to-day problems faced by conservation biologists in developing nations. You will study the behaviour of a variety of wild animals, focusing particularly on large mammals, birds, and insects. Travel and subsistence costs for this part of the programme are included in the programme fee.

You can also keep up to date and share the experiences of our students in the field on our Field Course Fortnight website.


Through integral collaboration with key external agencies, this MSc ensures that the training you receive links directly to relevant employment opportunities within the UK and abroad. The programme also prepares you for research and it is expected that a significant proportion of graduates will go on to PhD study.

Graduate destinations

Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of our Biosciences postgraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2016/17. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Recent graduates are now working as:

  • Assistant Ecologist
  • Assistant Ecologist/Fieldwork Co-ordinator
  • Communications Assistant
  • Conservation Project officer
  • Ecological Planning advisory intern
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Employability and Field Course Assistant
  • GIS and Social Technician
  • Graduate Ecologist
  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • Impact Support Assistant
  • Impact Tracker Intern
  • Junior Researcher
  • King Cobra Telemetry Project Intern
  • Marine and Environmental Consultant
  • Medical Writing Intern
  • Procurement graduate (graduate buyer)
  • Programme Assistant, Conservation Science and Design
  • Project Assistant
  • Research Assistant
  • Research Field Assistant
  • Research Leader, FEMBE Project
  • Researcher
  • Science Researcher
  • Senior Interpreter
  • Technical Assistant

Recent graduates are now working for:

  • A Rocha
  • Bayer Crop Science
  • Biosphere Magazine
  • Blackdown Environmental
  • Blue Ventures
  • Bournemouth and Poole College
  • Brook Lyndhurst
  • CSa Environmental Planning
  • Devon Wildlife Trust
  • EDF Energy
  • Field Studies Council
  • FX Plus
  • Gibraltar Vet Clinic
  • Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
  • Greengage Environmental LLP
  • Hyder Consulting
  • Institute of Zoology
  • IUCN John Wenman Ecological Consultancy Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI)
  • Oxford Scientific Films
  • PorterHouse Medical
  • RSPB
  • Seamarc Environmental Consultancy and Engineering
  • Somerset Wild Life Trust
  • Sparrow-Weaver Project
  • Stark Ecology
  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • Taylor Woodrow
  • The Civil Service
  • Thomson Ecology
  • Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
  • Wiley and Sons
  • Xsilon

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from our Masters programmes. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2016/17.

  • PhD investigating the effects of species interactions on species distributions
  • PhD Sustainable Agriculture
  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • PhD Institute for Bee Health
  • PhD Environmental Sciences
  • PhD in Biological Sciences
  • PhD Structural/Molecular Biology
  • PhD Dispersal at Low Densities
  • PhD Crop Biology
  • PhD Ontogeny of foraging behaviour in grey seals
  • PhD Diversity and Evolution of Wasps and Bees Along an Altitudinal Gradient in NW Ecuador

Further information

Further information is available through the Careers pages of the University’s Postgraduate Study website.


Entry requirements

Normally at least a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in Biology or a relevant science subject is required, although a 2:2 with relevant experience will be considered.  Applicants from non-science backgrounds will be considered, provided that the first degree contained an empirical component, and/or if the applicants have had work experience in the field of conservation/wildlife management.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

  • UK/EU: £13,500
  • International: £23,400 full-time

The fee includes costs of all field trips including 2-week residential course to Africa.

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

University funding

The Funding website has information on all available options for funding open to prospective students of taught Masters programmes. You can also use the searchable database of all Scholarships and Bursaries to find funding for which you are eligible.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.
Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

We welcome enquiries about the course. For further information contact:

Web: Enquire online 
Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

The Programme Director is Professor Brendan Godley.

Apply online

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