MSc Conservation Science and Policy

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


MSc Conservation Science and Policy video

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

Taught by internationally recognised experts active at the science/policy interface, this interdisciplinary 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.

The degree is designed to offer you considerable scope to tailor your studies to focus on the topics you wish to pursue. Integral to the whole programme is extensive liaison with conservation practitioners from a wide range of collaborating governmental and non-governmental organisations (e.g., Butterfly Conservation, Marine Conservation Society, Natural England), as well as a broad suite of international organisations (e.g., Kenya Wildlife Service, Solio Ranch, Wildlife Direct. 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, which includes visits to some of East Africa’s most famous conservation areas, as well as in-depth discussions with a wide range of stakeholders about synergies and trade-offs between conservation and development. The trip provides you with opportunities to see first-hand how conservation science operates within particular policy contexts. Travel and subsistence costs for this part of the programme are included in the programme fee.

 This Masters is based on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall—an exceptional place in which to study issues related to the environment and sustainability. The duchy is a living laboratory offering a diverse range of marine and terrestrial habitats, a wealth of natural resources, and creative and resilient communities. The Penryn Campus is also 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.

“I have really enjoyed the diversity of people on campus, and the passion of the lecturers and how excited they are about their topics!"


Munshidha, MSc Conservation Science and Policy. Munshidha

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

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.

The course, as a whole, is incredibly well structured with invaluable and interesting content. However, for me, the most enjoyable aspect has to be the world-class guest speakers that we are lucky enough to have come and host seminars for the students. Every week there are multiple inspiring people visiting us, covering a huge array of topics and from many different sectors including academics, NGOs and government organisations.

Emily, MSc Conservation Science and Policy.


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.

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.

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


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 those currently employed in fields of conservation or related areas, who wish to develop further their knowledge and research skills.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


Find out about funding opportunities available to students on our taught Masters programmes.

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 Dr Ilya Maclean.

Apply for 2020 entry

Apply online

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