Taught course

Ecological Survey Skills with Placement

University of Reading · School of Biological Sciences

Entry requirements

The six-month placement with an ecological consultancy is dependent on passing an interview stage and holding a valid driving licence.

IELTS: 6.5 overall with no element less than 5.5 (or equivalent)

Normally a good undergraduate honours degree (2:1 or above), or equivalent from a university outside the UK, in a related subject such as biological sciences, geographical sciences, agricultural sciences or environmental sciences, but each application will be considered individually.

Pre-sessional English language programme

If you need to improve your English language score, you can take a pre-sessional English course prior to entry onto your degree.

Months of entry


Course content

Gain industry-relevant knowledge and practical skills with this hands-on degree that includes a six-month paid placement with one of our ecological consultancy partners.*

This course will provide all you need to work in the competitive consultancy and conservation sectors. To achieve this, the School of Biological Sciences has teamed up with ecological consultants at RSK Group Ltd since 2011, and more recently with Aspect Ecology, to deliver a course that provides the skills and knowledge demanded by these industries.

This programme was previously named MSc Species Identification and Survey Skills and has been renamed to better reflect learning outcomes. It's taught by experienced ecologists with visiting lecturers from our partner consultancies – many of whom are alumni from the programme. In fact, more than half of all credits on this programme are overseen by consultants, making this course unique in the UK.

You’ll participate in hands-on and field-based training with all of your assessments being skills-based and fit-for-purpose, with no written examinations. You'll gain a thorough grounding in the skills needed for ecological surveying and species identification, including specialised report-writing and hands-on activities such as species translocation.

In addition to the taught component of your degree, you will be expected to take a six-month paid work placement with a leading ecological consultancy to apply your learning in the workplace.* This will involve working as a field ecologist alongside consultant ecologists planning and undertaking on-site surveys and completing ecological survey reports. The salary is covered by the employer, is at the market rate, and is taxable. In addition, any travel and accommodation while on surveys with the consultancy are covered as expenses by the employer following their expenses procedures.

100% of graduates were in work or further study 15 months after the end of their course (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19 and 2019/20 graduating year data; includes MSc Species Identification and Survey Skills responders across two years.

A new feature of this programme is our module on molecular species identification and surveying. On this module, you’ll learn about the molecular methods used to survey and identify species, and you’ll also get practical experience in designing, collecting, processing, and analysing environmental samples.

97% of our research outputs are of international standing (REF 2021, combining 4*, 3* and 2* submissions – Biological Sciences).

You may also be interested in our MSc by Research Entomology programme.

* The University has ringfenced paid placements with partner ecological consultants. Students are required to pass an interview with the placement provider and hold a driving licence.

Fees and funding

New UK/Republic of Ireland students: £10,800
New international students: £22,350

The fees listed are for full-time study, unless otherwise stated. Fee information will be confirmed in offer letters sent out to successful applicants. You can find further information, including information for part-time study, through our dedicated fees and funding page.

EU student fees

With effect from 1 August 2021, new EU students will pay international tuition fees. For exceptions, please read the UK government’s guidance for EU students.

Additional costs

Some courses will require additional payments for field trips and extra resources. You will also need to budget for your accommodation and living costs. See our information on living costs for more details.

Financial support for your studies

You may be eligible for a scholarship or bursary to help pay for your study. Students from the UK may also be eligible for a student loan to help cover these costs. See our fees and funding information for more information on what's available.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

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

Course contact details

Global Recruitment Team