MSc Island Biodiversity and Conservation

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • Biosciences
Location Jersey - Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies
Start date September


  • Delivered by Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies and accredited by the University of Exeter
  • Designed to meet the needs of conservation professionals specialising in islands, students who wish to remain in academia and conservation practitioners from across the world
  • Offers substantial fieldwork opportunities, including a module in Sark, Channel Islands and Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • Delivered by a consortium of leading professionals and academics from across the globe
  • Comprises modules that target both researchers and practical conservation skills
  • Provides opportunities to complete the dissertation module in a number of different islands, including Hawaii, Greece, Canary Islands, Madagascar and Mauritius to name a few
  • Offers excellent facilities and the opportunity to study in a beautiful island with rich biodiversity

Islands provide some of the planet’s most spectacular examples of biodiversity, making them important repositories of unique species. Yet there are more endangered species and habitats per capita in Small Island Developing States and territories than anywhere else in the world. This one-year taught Masters programme is an innovative course dedicated to the understanding and conservation of the biodiversity of islands throughout the world. This programme is delivered by the Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies (JICAS) and taught in Jersey, Channel Islands. The programme boasts a significant research component with substantial fieldwork modules in the Channel Islands and Canary Islands, and dissertation options across the globe. A consortium of world-leading academics has come together in Jersey to produce a niche programme of research-led study.

This applied degree provides a number of employability outcomes, including careers in management positions in global conservation NGOs, public conservation government ministries, organisations and departments, as well as technical positions in conservation and sustainability consultancies. This degree also serves as a gateway to a PhD and other academic positions in leading conservation organisations and enterprises in the UK and abroad.

Human activities in most peopled islands are eroding the natural resource base on which not only the islanders themselves, but also the nonhuman species depend for survival. Those vital resources include soil, water and the natural habitats of inland and coastal areas, all of which are affected by overexploitation, pollution, waste disposal and invasive species. With the added burden of climate change, some small island nations are being pushed to their environmental limits. Overcoming the challenges requires good scientific understanding of the island environment, adaptive management skills and solutions appropriate to island circumstances.

Dr Lee Durrell, Chair, JICAS Steering Committee.

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 three-week blocks. Each taught module is structured in the following way:

Week 1 – Students will review the material via the Virtual Learning Environment in preparation for the lectures.

Week 2 – The module leader will deliver 30 hours of lectures over five days. Students are expected to attend all of the lectures, workshops and seminars during this week.

Week 3 – Students will work independently to complete all methods of assessment. The lecturer(s) will maintain constant contact with all students, either virtually or institutionally, to help supervise the task(s). The Programme Coordinator will always be on campus for additional support.

For all fieldwork-based modules, Week 2 will consist of fieldwork training and research.

Teaching and learning methods

All material is designed for Masters level and will involve fieldwork, seminars, webinars and lecturers. There is considerable scope for you to direct your own learning for the dissertation module, including opportunities to conduct your research in Hawaii, Greece, UK, Channel Islands, Canary Islands and Madagascar, as well as others.


All material is designed for Masters level and will involve fieldwork, seminars, webinars and lectures. There is considerable scope for you to direct your own learning for the dissertation module, including opportunities to conduct your research in Hawaii, Greece, UK, Channel Islands, Canary Islands and Madagascar, as well as others.

The viva is a key component of the programme and will consist of a one-day symposium where all students will carry out an oral presentation of their MSc dissertation. This event will be streamed live on-line, and videos will be uploaded to the JICAS website.

Advice and support

All students will have direct access to the Programme Coordinator, who is available for advice and support throughout your studies at JICAS. The allocation of a dissertation supervisor will be the result of an agreement between student and lecturer. If no such agreement can be arranged, JICAS will provide a number of options in order to successfully complete the module.

The situation on many islands is becoming critical as the area of undisturbed natural habitat diminishes. The result is a relatively large number of endangered (and extinct) species in countries where the scientific and financial resources available to deal with the problem are very limited. There are probably more endangered species per capita in Small Island Developing States and territories than anywhere else in the world.

While a number of countries have made great efforts in setting aside protected areas, the needs far exceed the means. In addition, islands with limited land seldom can afford to create single purpose parks and reserves solely for nature conservation. Solutions need to be more flexible and adapted to island circumstances. Conservation areas which are created and managed by the traditional land owners represent the kind of creative approach to conservation needed in islands.

Professor John Fa, JICAS Senior Research Fellow.


This course has been designed to include a maximum fieldwork and research component. You will spend a considerable amount of time in the field collecting data and conducting research.

Fieldwork Statistics

This module will take place in Sark, Channel Islands and consists of collecting data that will be later analysed once back in Jersey with proper statistical tools. You will learn by combining both theoretical and practical lecturers about the scientific method and how to design and gather field data from different surveys on distinct taxonomic groups.

Conservation in Action

This one-week excursion will take place in Tenerife, Canary Islands in collaboration with La Laguna University, where you will live in student accommodation and collaborate with students from other universities. You will learn about the Impact of Human Activities in an Outstanding Island Ecosystem and the Network of Canary Islands Protected Areas and Species Catalogues.


The dissertation module has been designed to include the opportunity to conduct fieldwork and research anywhere in the world. JICAS has established links with the University of Hawaii and Princeton University in the US; La Laguna University in Tenerife, Canary Islands; University of Exeter and University of Southampton in the UK; Department of Environment and Societe Jersiaise in Jersey, Channel Islands; Athens University in Greece, as well as international organisations and institutions, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and US Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the United States.


The aim of the degree is to train future leaders, managers and policy makers in island biodiversity and conservation. Through integral collaboration with key players in the field of biodiversity and conservation, this MSc ensures the training you receive will prepare you for immediate employment both in the UK and abroad. This MSc also prepares you for a career in various academic positions and/or PhD study.

These include:

  • Pre-requisite and gateway to PhD
  • Academic positions in leading organisations and enterprises
  • Environmental and conservation consultancy services 
  • Management positions in global conservation NGOs
  • Management positions in public conservation government ministries, organisations and departments
  • Management positions in other third sector conservation organisations and institutions 
  • Technical positions in conservation and sustainability consultancies, and international bodies such as and IUCN
  • Corporate Social Responsibility.

Entry requirements 2020/21

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 with significant, professional work experience seeking an academic qualification or the opportunity to enhance skills or knowledge in this field will also be considered. Candidates may be asked to attend an interview (which may be by Skype, telephone or video link).

Please note, as this programme is delivered by Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies, the University may need to share your data with a third party external organisation in order to reach a decision on, or progress your application. In such circumstances we are committed to protecting your data in accordance with all relevant data protection legislation.

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 full-time; £6,750 part-time
  • International: £23,400 full-time; £11,700 part-time

JICAS funding

For more information on JICAS sponsored bursaries please visit the JICAS bursaries webpage.

Contact us

Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies
Turner Building, Le Chalelan Floor
Highlands Lane, St Saviours

Phone: +44 (0)7700360607

The Programme Coordinator is Dr Sean Dettman

Apply online

The MSc Island Biodiversity and Conservation programme has been designed and is being delivered by JICAS in Jersey from September 2019, with support from the University of Exeter as the accrediting institution.

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