Research course

Biodiversity and Conservation

Open University · Department of Life Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) or an appropriate first degree and postgraduate qualification

Months of entry


Course content

In response to the current crisis of species extinctions across the globe, research within this theme focuses on the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity with particular emphasis on conservation biology. Various questions in evolutionary biology and population dynamics are addressed, through specialisms in behavioural ecology, environmental physiology and terrestrial microbial ecology. Emphasis is placed on the interpretation of long-term experiments.

A key area of this theme is understanding how land management impacts upon biodiversity in the environment, and on the development of more effective management options to conserve the diversity of plant species. The School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences hosts the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, which specialises in the management, promotion and restoration of floodplain meadows in England and Wales. The ecology/conservation of a diverse range of plant and animal species is currently being studied, including brown hares in Yorkshire, bumblebees in Wiltshire and grassland ecology in Siberia. The techniques used range from field survey to experiments in controlled environments. There is a strong focus on citizen science approaches via the Evolution Megalab and iSpot.

Current/recent research projects

  • Environmental impacts of volcanoes
  • Mammal conservation in tropical forests
  • Management of mineral extraction sites for wader conservation
  • Microbe interaction with minerals and microbial weathering of rocks
  • Nutrient availability in floodplain habitats
  • Reproduction strategies
  • Response of grassland communities to water and nutrient availability
  • Sensitivity of plants to soil-moisture status
  • Survival of microbes in extreme environments
  • Water use by floodplain vegetation

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of biodiversity and conservation ecology.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months
full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
distance learning
variable months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036