Taught course

Ecology & Environmental Biology

University of Glasgow · School of Life Sciences

Entry requirements

A second class 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. International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses. Further information regarding academic entry requirements: student.recruitment@glasgow.ac.uk

Months of entry


Course content

This Masters programme is mainly intended to provide training for students who hope to enter a PhD programme in the areas of ecology and environmental biology, and who wish training in transferable skills and in ecological and environmental disciplines.

Why Glasgow

· The programme draws on the research expertise of a large number of University staff and allows you the chance to obtain experience in a wide range of modern research techniques.

· There is considerable expertise in this area of biology available at Glasgow, especially in ornithology, fish biology, aquatic ecosystems, and theoretical, physiological, molecular and evolutionary ecology.

· Excellent research and teaching facilities are available at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE) andCochno Farm and Research Centre

· You will be encouraged to tailor the programme to your own specific requirements and interests, within the limitations of the courses and projects offered.

Programme Structure

The programme consists of a taught component, and two research projects in individual laboratories and/or field based.

The taught component consists of core research skills and specialist option in analytical and sampling techniques.

The main part of the degree, however, is devoted to experience of research techniques. You will carry out two 20-week research projects with individual placements chosen to reflect your interests and the skills you wish to acquire. After each project, you will write a scientific report.

Core Courses

Key Research Skills
The aims of this course are to ensure that all students 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.

Research Project (x 2)
The aim of this course is to have students undertake a quantitatively orientated independent research project, in which they will use the knowledge gained in the Key Research Skills course to design a feasible experiment, undertake data collection, analyse and write a report.

Optional Courses

Programming in R (prerequisite for all modelling and epidemiology)
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.

Infectious Disease Ecology & the Dynamics of Emerging Disease
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.

Single-species Models
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.

Conservation Genetics & Phylodynamics
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
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
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
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.

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
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.

Career Prospects

The programme will provide an excellent training for those who want to undertake a PhD programme and enter ecological management or conservation businesses. It should also serve as an excellent introduction to research in the UK for overseas students intending to proceed to a PhD in this country.

Some of the Institutions/Organisations our M.Res students went on to:

· Bremen Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)

· Clyde River Foundation

· Dakshin Foundation, India

· Victoria University, Wellington (New Zealand)

· University of Glasgow

· Warwick University

Some of the more exotic locations for MRes projects in recent years have included southern Brazil, Trinidad, Tobago, Kuwait, Egypt, Svalbard (Norway), Canada, the Azores (Portugal), Oman, Cayman Islands, and The Philippines.

Information for international students

IELTS 6.5 (with no subtest less than 6) iBT TOEFL 92 (with no less than 21 in Listening & writing, 22 in reading, 23 in speaking) Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) - B minimum or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) - C minimum

Fees and funding

UK students
International students


Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months


full time
9 months

Course contact details

Dr Dominic McCafferty