Taught course

Biodiversity and Conservation

Institution
Queen Mary, University of London
Qualifications
MSc

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

Potential students are expected to have a minimum of a second class honours degree in a relevant subject such as biology, ecology, zoology, plant sciences, biochemistry, medicine, or genetics. Preference will be given to candidates with an upper second class or first class degree. Individuals with relevant professional qualifications or other relevant experience and qualifications will also be considered.

Months of entry

September

Course content

A key global challenge is to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the face of unprecedented pressure from growing human populations, climate change, intense farming and increased industrialisation. The need to maintain and indeed enhance biodiversity has never been more important. This programme examines the evolution and ecology of plants and animals, and reveals how to conserve biodiversity through finding solutions for the management of the natural world.

  • Be taught by experts in plant and animal science and conservation.
  • Experience a unique hands-on course through applied lab, computer and field-based approaches.
  • Access the world-class collections and resources at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - both in the UK and abroad, as well as access to over 350 Kew Scientists.
  • Be integrated into active research teams studying biodiversity at QMUL, Kew and beyond.
  • Take a fieldwork module in a biodiversity hotspot.
  • Choose one of two unique streams; ‘Ecology, Evolution and Conservation’ or ‘Conservation and Restoration’ depending on your interests.
  • Develop the skills and experience that employers and PhD supervisors need.

What you'll study

Learn the skills needed to kick-start your career in this exciting and evolving field. This new programme balances evolutionary and ecological theory, conservation and restoration to find practical applications in conservation.

You will learn how to monitor, survey, study, manage and restore biodiversity in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Through a combination of core modules and some electives, you’ll cover topics including habitat restoration, spatial analysis, evolutionary biology, and conservation policy, theory and practice.

We aim to ground your studies in insightful practical training, so that you’re familiar with the very latest industry-standard equipment and practice. To put these skills and knowledge into practice, you will have the opportunity to be embedded into research projects and NGO work on a two-week field trip to a biodiversity hotspot: Cabo Verde, Madagascar or Borneo (depending on your interests, although venues are subject to change).

This programme offers two unique streams; Ecology, Evolution and Conservation or Conservation and Restoration. The main differences are which two elective modules you select, the field course location and the research project topic.

For both programmes you commence your training by gaining expertise in cutting edge literature in ecology, evolution and conservation. You move from that to a module that gives a thorough grounding in data analysis, centred around the statistical programme R, essential for your project and any data-based employment/training. Then you will explore causes, consequences, challenges and solutions regarding biodiversity loss. This will be covered in three modules, taught by Queen Mary and Kew staff, at their places of work. During this phase you will be asked to elect to do one of two streams.

Ecology Evolution and Conservation stream

The focus in this stream is centred most strongly in the fundamental science of biodiversity and conservation, although both streams offer fundamental and practical conservation. You will be based at Queen Mary, and you will explore how ecosystems function and how they can be modelled to inform conservation practice. You will then analyse problems in biodiversity, evolution and conservation relevant to your project before embarking on your extended 6 month project, most likely based at Queen Mary. We are very flexible with projects and will try to accommodate projects and venues that you find exciting. Your field trip will be a marvellous tropical forest (likely to be Borneo, although venues are subject to change), giving you experience of its amazing biodiversity and the problems associated with its conservation.

Conservation and Restoration stream

The focus in this stream is centred most strongly in the practical science of biodiversity and conservation, although both streams offer fundamental and practical conservation. You will be based at Kew, and you will explore how to conduct biodiversity surveys, red-list species and the ways that habitats are restored. You will then embark on your extended 6 month project, most likely at Kew. We are very flexible with projects and will try to accommodate projects and venues that you find exciting. Your field trip will be a marvellous tropical forest (likely to be Borneo, although venues are subject to change), giving you experience of its amazing biodiversity and the problems associated with its conservation.

Structure

  • Five compulsory taught modules and a field trip module
  • Substantive six-month research project including a 5,000-word dissertation written as a research paper

Research project

You’ll undertake a six-month research project exploring questions at the cutting edge of research in ecology, evolution, biodiversity and/or conservation. Topic options include animals, plants or fungi biodiversity in freshwater, marine or terrestrial ecosystems.

Much of your learning will occur as part of your contribution to your research team during the project phase. Projects are based at Kew, Queen Mary University of London or Wakehurst in Sussex (home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank).

The project will provide knowledge and experience of modern techniques in Biodiversity and Conservation, including but not restricted to: evolutionary analyses, ecological modelling, community ecology, spatial analysis, habitat assessment and habitat restoration, involving laboratory work, modelling, analytical work, statistical analysis, field research and more. You will also learn how to write up results suitable for publication in an International Science Journal.

Teaching

This course has been developed and is taught by world-leading experts, internationally recognised for cutting edge research in plant and animal sciences.

Modules are taught over a three-week period, with an intensive combination of lectures, group discussions, field work and practicals in the first two weeks, followed by a week of private study in which to complete a substantive piece of assessed work.

To help you along your journey, you’ll also be assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide and support you throughout the course, either at Kew or Queen Mary, depending on the stream you choose.

Students are also encouraged to attend the regular science seminars at Kew and Queen Mary in order to broaden their knowledge.

Facilities

At Queen Mary and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew you'll have access to a number of advanced facilities:

  • All refurbished laboratories from the Department of Biology including state-of-the-art molecular and stable isotope tools.
  • Kew’s resources, including the Herbarium, Fungarium, Economic Botany Collection, Library, Art & Archives, Millennium Seed Bank, Jodrell Laboratories and Living Collection – gardens, glasshouses & nurseries at Kew & Wakehurst
  • Specialist analytical research facilities within our Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment, developed from an investment of £1.8 million.
  • Mesocosm and temperature-controlled facilities at Queen Mary
  • The Genomics facility, which provides the latest genomic technologies including highthroughput sequencing tools.
  • Network of partner NGOs, research labs & industries to create further opportunities

Campus

Mile End campus

You will undertake modules at Queen Mary’s Mile End campus in exciting east London. Mile End is the heart of our lively student community. Here you’ll be able to study and socialise with students and staff from over 160 countries around the world.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

You will also study modules at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a world heritage site. At Kew, you’ll experience first-hand the most diverse collections of plant and fungal specimens and associated biodiversity databases in the world. You’ll also have the chance to rub shoulders with their team of over 350 highly-skilled scientists, curators and technicians.

Career paths

The career outcomes of this MSc will be diverse, and all students will develop a set of core skills and specific high-level expertise.

This course provides excellent preparation for students wishing to progress onto a research degree or into employment in a research-oriented environment, bridging the gap between the lecture-dominated programme of a typical undergraduate BSc degree and the research-intensive PhD degree.

Graduates will be also be well equipped for careers in environmental NGOs, government bodies, ecological consultancies, conservation charities, botanic gardens, independent research organisations and universities.

Fees and funding

UK students
£13,750
International students
£25,150

A Full list of scholarships avaialable can be found on the Queen Mary Funding Pages

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification

Assessment

AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written coursework / continuous assessment50
Dissertation50 (5,000 words)

Course contact details

Name
School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences
Email
sbbs-pgadmissions@qmul.ac.uk