Taught course

Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation and Epidemiology

Institution
University of Glasgow · Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Qualifications
MScPGDip

Entry requirements

At least a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent (eg GPA of 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject. Professional experience may be taken into account. In your application, please submit a statement (up to 200 words) outlining why you want to study this programme in particular and what you hope to get out of it. Further information regarding academic entry requirements: student.recruitment@glasgow.ac.uk

Months of entry

September

Course content

This Masters combines ecology, evolution, epidemiology and animal ethics into one integrated programme. It is offered by the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine (IBAHCM); a grouping of top researchers who focus on combining ecology and evolution with more applied problems in animal health and welfare.

Why Glasgow

  • This programme encompasses key skills in monitoring and assessing biodiversity critical for understanding the impacts of environmental change.
  • It covers quantitative analyses of ecological and epidemiological data critical for animal health and conservation; and ethics and legislative policy critical for promoting humane treatment of both captive and wild animals.
  • You will have the opportunity to base your independent research projects at the University field station on Loch Lomond (for freshwater or terrestrial-based projects); Millport field station on the Isle of Cumbria (for marine projects); or Cochno farm in Glasgow (for research based on farm animals). We will also assist you to gain research project placements in zoos or environmental consulting firms whenever possible.
  • The uniqueness of the programme is the opportunity to gain core skills and knowledge across a wide range of subjects, which will enhance future career opportunities, including entrance into competitive PhD programmes. For example, it is rare for students in animal welfare to gain extensive quantitative skills, even though this can be critical for designing experiments that meet the criteria of the "three R's" (reduce, refine, replace) in animal-based research. Similarly, there are identification based programmes offered elsewhere, but most others do not combine practical field skills with molecular techniques, advanced informatics for assessing biodiversity based on molecular markers, as well as advanced statistics. Other courses in epidemiology are rarely ecologically focused; the specialty in IBAHCM is understanding disease ecology, in the context of both animal conservation and implications for human public health.
  • You will be taught by research-active staff using the latest approaches in quantitative methods, sequence analysis, practical approaches to assessing biodiversity, and you will have opportunites to learn about legislation and ethics associated with the use of animals in research.
  • A unique strength of the University of Glasgow for many years has been the strong ties between veterinarians and ecologists, which has now been formalised in the formation of the IBAHCM. This direct linking is rare but offers unique opportunities to provide training that spans both fundamental and applied research.

Programme Structure

The programme provides a strong grounding in scientific writing and communication, statistical analysis, and experimental design. It is designed for flexibility, to enable you to customise a portfolio of courses suited to your particular interests.

You can choose from a range of specialised options that encompass key skills in:

  • Monitoring and assessing biodiversity – critical for understanding the impacts of environmental change
  • Quantitative analyses of ecological and epidemiological data – critical for animal health and conservation
  • Ethics and legislative policy – critical for promoting humane treatment of both captive and wild animals.

Core courses

  • Key research skills (scientific writing, introduction to R, advanced linear models, experimental design and power analysis)
  • Measuring biodiversity and abundance
  • Programming in R
  • Independent research project

Optional courses

  • Freshwater sampling techniques
  • Marine sampling techniques
  • Invertebrate identification
  • Vertebrate identification
  • Molecular analyses for DNA barcoding and biodiversity measurement
  • Phyloinformatics
  • Conservation genetics and phylodynamics
  • Infectious disease ecology and the dynamics of emerging disease
  • Single-species population models
  • Multi-species models
  • Spatial processes
  • Introduction to Bayesian statistics
  • Animal welfare science
  • Legislation related to animal welfare
  • Enrichment of animals in captive environments
  • Care of captive animals
  • Biology of suffering
  • Assessment of physiological state.

Core Courses

Key Research Skills

Course Aims: The aims of this course are to ensure that all students enrolled in the MSc/PGdip programme in Biodiversity, Conservation and Animal Welfare receive advanced and evidence-based training in the key skills essential for any modern ecology/evolution-based research career and for the courses that they will take later in the programme. This includes principles of Scientific Writing and Effective Communication in English, Introduction to the Programming Environment R, Advanced Statistics, and Experimental Design and Power Analysis.

Measuring Biodiversity & Abundance

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with evidence-based core training in the use of a wide range of sampling techniques currently available for invertebrate and vertebrate organisms in a terrestrial environment, as well as to explore techniques used for the quantification of biodiversity and the measurement of abundance.

Programming in R (prerequisite for all modelling and epidemiology)

Course Aims: The aim of this course is to provide hands-on training in programming in the R environment, and teach students to use the data structures and libraries provided by the R project appropriately to solve problems.

Research Project

Course Aims: The aim of this course is to have students undertake a quantitatively oriented independent research project, in which they will use the knowledge gained in the taught course components to design a feasible experiment, write a proposal, and implement, analyse and write up a discrete project.

Optional Courses

Modelling and Epidemiology

Infectious Disease Ecology & the Dynamics of Emerging Disease

Course Aims: The aim of this course is to equip students with the mathematical and programming skills and theoretical background to be able to create simple epidemiological models, to interpret

Introduction to Bayesian Statistics

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide the student with an evidence-based founding in the basic theory and practice of Bayesian statistics, using Markov Chain Monte Carlo approaches and Metropolis-Hastings and Gibbs sampling procedure.

Multi-species Models

Course Aims: This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of formulating multi-species population models. It will aim to introduce students to the different ways these models can be formulated in theory, and implemented in practice (this will be undertaken in the R programming environment). Students will be asked to review a range of previous uses of these forms of models, and be asked to develop critical views of them. Emphasis will be placed on identifying the key assumptions of these different models, and when different formulations are most appropriate.

Single-species Models

Course Aims: This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of single-species population models. It will aim to introduce students to the different ways these models can be formulated in theory, and implemented in practice (this will be undertaken in the R programming environment). Students will be asked to review a range of previous uses of these forms of models, and be asked to develop critical views of them. Emphasis will be placed on identifying the key assumptions of these different models, and when different formulations are most appropriate.

Spatial and Network Processes in Ecology & Epidemiology

Course Aims: The aim of this course is to introduce students to the importance of spatial processes in ecological and epidemiological interactions. There is a substantial change in the assumptions of models that are ‘well-mixed’ and essentially ‘non-spatial’, and a spatially explicit representation – be it in continuous or discrete, point based, network-based or patch-based. The primary aim of this course is to equip students to critically appreciate, understand, describe and work with these different model formulations and their correct interpretation.

Biodiversity Measurement and Informatics

Conservation Genetics & Phylodynamics

Course Aims: To provide students with the conceptual background and hands-on training required for analysing and interpreting genetic data to answer applied questions in ecology, conservation biology and epidemiology, through the use of relevant specialised computer software and critical evaluation of the scientific literature.

Freshwater Sampling Techniques

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with core hands-on training in the use of a wide range of sampling techniques currently available for invertebrate and vertebrate organisms in a freshwater environment.

Invertebrate Identification

Course Aims: The aim of this course is to provide students with in depth hands-on training to enable them to identify key vertebrate groups, using field guides, identification keys, and vocalizations, as required for assessment of biodiversity.

Molecular Analyses for DNA Barcoding and Biodiversity Measurement

Course Aims: To provide practical training in and the theoretical basis for basic molecular techniques used for identification and characterisation of biodiversity. Hands-on training will be integrated with the theoretical underpinning of the manipulation and analysis of DNA sequence and microsatellite genotype data, as applied to problems in the assessment of biodiversity. This will include approaches to DNA barcoding for identification and population genetics analyses of population structure and genetic history. The goal will be for students to learn these analyses at a level sufficient to perform independent analysis of their own data. The course will also highlight recent advances in sequencing technology and approaches to genotyping, along with the new challenges that this will bring for analytical approaches.

Phyloinformatics

Course Aims: To provide evidence-based advanced practical training in using web services to aggregate and visualise biodiversity data, using an interactive and open-access based approach.

Vertebrate Identification

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with core evidence-based training in techniques for identifying key vertebrate groups, including bird songs and mammalian scats.

Animal Welfere Science, Ethics & Law

Animal Welfare Science (core for AWSEL; option for QMBCE)

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with an evidence-based critical and detailed understanding of welfare assessment methodologies and practical experience of how welfare issues are addressed at sites that keep animals for different forms of human use, including research on wild animals.

Assessment of Physiological State

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with an evidence-based understanding of methods and techniques used to assess physiological state of wild animals and provide them with the competence to identify the health state of wild animal and to respond appropriately to this.

Biology of Suffering

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with an advanced understanding of issues on consciousness, sentience and suffering in animals and how this relates to ethical and legal considerations.

Care of Captive Animals

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with a critical awareness of issues relating to care of captive animals and relate these to legislation and welfare science.

Enrichment of Animals in Captive Environments

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with the underlying principles that will guide enrichment and the design of enclosures and encourages students to creatively think about their own solution to welfare issues.

Legislation Related to Animal Welfare (core for AWSEL; option for QMBCE)

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to provide students with a rigorous evidence-based understanding of the different pieces of legislation underlying the use of animals in scientific research, in zoos and in farms.

Information for international students

If your first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level. See http://www.gla.ac.uk/postgraduate/howtoapplyforataughtdegree/englishlanguagerequirements/

Fees and funding

UK students
£6800
International students
£18200

http://www.gla.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/ecologyepidemiologyconservationbiology/

Qualification and course duration

MSc

full time
12 months

PGDip

full time
9 months

Course contact details

Name
Roman Biek
Email
Roman.Biek@glasgow.ac.uk