Graduate Diploma Ecology

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Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)

Are you a graduate from another discipline (arts or sciences) who aspires to work in ecology and nature conservation research, consultancy or advocacy, but require a fast-track path to transforming your career?
This is an intensive one-year conversion course designed to equip you with the essential concepts, skills and experience required for entry into the ecology and conservation sector. Students on the Diploma benefit from UEA’s outstanding international reputation for research and training in ecology, conservation and environmental sciences at the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC). You can tailor the course to suit your own interests through modules developing core ecological and evolutionary principles and theories, to applied conservation ecology and its interface with human societal demands and impacts on biodiversity. Emphasis is placed on practical and field-skills via our field-training course opportunities in East Anglia, Ireland, Peru and Swaziland.

Overview

This Graduate Diploma in Ecology combines a selection of Honours level modules specifically designed to give you a strong training in ecological and conservation theory and skills.

While you’ll focus primarily in the areas of population and community ecology and conservation biology, the course is flexible to enable you to strengthen your knowledge in other areas of ecology too. Prepare to explore the functioning of aquatic, marine and terrestrial ecosystems; the importance of community structure, succession and population dynamics; the processes of predation, competition and other plant/animal interactions; population and biodiversity responses to natural environmental disturbance and human-induced stress; the current research agenda in ecology, evolution and conservation; and the potential contribution of integrating sustainable development with biodiversity conservation.

Be inspired by the opportunity to experience first-hand a fascinating array of species, ecosystems and conservation issues, via field-course modules in Ireland, Swaziland and Peru where you will be guided by research and conservation experts.

We’ve also specifically designed our Graduate Diploma to ensure you develop a wide range of transferable skills, which will apply to any career or further graduate study at MSc or PhD level. You will gain skills in communication, information technology, data mining and analysis, fieldwork, teamwork, critical writing, reasoning and time management.

What’s more, you’ll be in the perfect place to study. We have very strong academic expertise in ecology, based around UEA’s Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC) – one of the largest groups of its kind in Europe with strong links to major institutions such as the RSPB, BTO, CEFAS and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

So whatever scientific career you aspire to, this Diploma is the perfect preparation for further study or the world of work.

Course Structure

Study for the Diploma takes one year full-time or two years part-time, based at UEA. During the course you will complete 120 credits of study, with all modules accruing 20 credits each except for the optional Ecology Research Project module (40 credits).

Your course kicks off with the optional two-week residential Field Ecology module held on the Dingle Peninsular, Ireland, before the start of the autumn semester (or between your first and second year of the two-year part-time variant). For September 2018 entry, the field course will run from1-15 September.

Once the Diploma begins you’ll take a combination of compulsory and optional modules, with the opportunity to take one free choice module in any field of study taught at the university. Most modules are scheduled to run for one semester only, either autumn (semester 1) or spring (semester 2).

Your core modules include Biodiversity, Conservation and Human Society (semester 1), which focuses on the interactions between biodiversity and human societies, providing exposure to real-world conservation issues and the first-hand experience of practitioners, and gives insights to potential career pathways. In Population Ecology and Management (semester 1) you’ll explore the human dominated era we live in – recently designated ‘the Anthropocene’. You’ll look closely at how populations are regulated and managed, and learn about population properties and modelling. Community, Ecosystem and Macro-ecology (semester 2) introduces you to major concepts and analytical approaches in community ecology, macro-ecology and biogeography. You will use these to explore how communities are structured in relation to local-scale to regional-scale processes, and how biodiversity mediates ecosystem functions and services and responds to environmental change, before scaling up to look at emergent macro-ecological and global patterns of biodiversity distribution and extinction risk.

Conservation Ecology and Biodiversity in the Tropics is an additional optional field ecology module which takes place during the Easter break. Students may visit either Peru or Swaziland as their destination, depending on their preference and availability of spaces at each site.

You’ll also be able to choose from a wide selection of optional modules, covering topics  including: Aquatic Ecology (semester 1), Behavioural Ecology (semester 2), Biological Oceanography and Marine Ecology (semester 1), Evolutionary Biology (semester 2), Social Evolution (semester 2), Ecology Research Project (year-long) and many more. 

The 40-credit Ecology Research Project option provides students the opportunity to design and undertake an independent research project under the supervision of academic faculty from the Centre for Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (CEEC).

Teaching and Learning

Teaching

Our teaching staff are all members of the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC), a multi-disciplinary centre that comprises researchers in ecology and conservation across the university. Many of your lecturers are internationally recognised researchers in their discipline, and with research-led taught modules you will benefit from learning at the cutting-edge of the discipline.

You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and fieldwork designed to help you understand the theory and concepts behind evolution, behaviour, ecological services, processes and conservation.

Independent study

Throughout the programme you will be expected to undertake search and selection of scientific literature and data, use information technology for scientific study of ecological processes and problems and demonstrate field-based skills.

100% of our research environment was rated world leading and internationally excellent at the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) for Biological Sciences.

You’ll also get the chance to attend regular seminars and workshops conducted by world-leading scientists to keep up with the latest research in ecology. These are organised by The Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC) – one of the largest groups of ecologists and evolutionary biologists in Europe, with scientists from UEA, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).

Assessment

During this course you will develop your skills and knowledge through a range of activities from field-based surveys through lab practicals to lectures. You will be assessed on your learning and progress on this course through a range of methods which may include the presentation of your own taxonomy collection, creating social media articles, group presentations, writing executive reports for clients, as well as the more formal course tests, exams and assessed practical work. Ecology with Conservation has a strong emphasis on coursework and practical reporting, preparing you for the workplace after you graduate.

Optional Study abroad or Placement Year

Our field-course modules include Field Ecology which takes place in Ireland and Conservation Ecology and Biodiversity in the Tropics where students visit field sites in Peru or Swaziland. Both modules offer a unique opportunity to experience first-hand and study a range of biodiverse ecosystems and conservation challenges.

After the course

The Graduate Diploma in Ecology has been transformational for the careers of students that have taken it. Diploma in Ecology alumni have moved either directly or via MSc courses into a diversity of professional roles in the ecology and conservation sector.

Most students go on to complete MSc courses in biodiversity, ecology and/or conservation biology as a stepping stone to PhD research or employment. Approximately half of our Graduate Diploma graduates go on to study on the Applied Ecology and Conservation MSc here at UEA.

You will graduate as a skilled ecologist ready to take advantage of East Anglia’s wealth of varied habitats, or range further afield. Either way, you’ll be able to use what you have learned at UEA to make a real difference.

Career destinations

Examples of career destinations of Diploma alumni include:

  • PhD and Postdoctoral research in ecology and conservation biology at UK and overseas universities
  • Ecologists working for non-governmental conservation organisations
  • Ecologists working for government departments and organisations
  • Ecological consultancy
  • Science communication and conservation advocacy

Course related costs

You will normally be expected pay 50% towards the cost of any optional field trips selected from the range of residential field courses within the schools of biological science or environmental sciences. All Ecologists are expected to have suitable field clothes including walking boots and waterproofs.

Please note that this course runs an optional 2 week field course module, which takes place before the start of the Autumn Semester (in September). If you are an international student and wish to take this module, you will be required to arrive at the university before the field course commences in order to complete your visa and registration checks. For September 2018 entry, the field course will run from1sr - 15th September 2018.

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of course-related costs.

Course Modules 2019/0

Students must study the following modules for 40 credits:

Name Code Credits

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND HUMAN SOCIETY

The global biodiversity crisis threatens mass species loss. What are the implications for society? How can communities solve this problem in a world that is facing other challenges of climate change, food security, environmental and social justice? In this inter-disciplinary module, (designed for students of Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology and International Development who have an interest in biodiversity and its conservation), you will focus on the interactions between biodiversity and human societies. The module adopts a rigorous evidence-based approach. You will first critically examine the human drivers of biodiversity loss and the importance of biodiversity to human society, to understand how underlying perspectives and motivations influence approaches to conservation. You will then examine conflicts between human society and conservation and how these potentially can be resolved, reviewing institutions and potential instruments for biodiversity conservation in both Europe and developing countries. Coursework is inter-disciplinary and will require you to evaluate and communicate the quality of evidence showing effectiveness of conservation interventions and approaches. IN TAKING THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT TAKE ENV-7041A

ENV-6006A

20

COMMUNITY, ECOSYSTEM AND MACRO-ECOLOGY

This module introduces you to major concepts and definitions in community ecology, macro-ecology and biogeography. You will use these to explore how communities are structured in relation to local-scale to regional-scale processes, how they function and respond to perturbations at different scales, and result in emergent macro- to global-scale patterns of biodiversity distribution. Throughout the module, there is an emphasis on the relevance of theory and fundamental science to understanding the current environmental and biodiversity crisis. Anthropogenic impacts on natural communities through land-use, species exploitation, non-native species, and climate change, are a recurrent theme underpinning the examples you will draw upon.

BIO-5014B

20

POPULATION ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT

We live in a human dominated era recently designated "the Anthropocene". Humans harvest more than half of the primary productivity of the planet, many resources are over-exploited or depleted (e.g. fisheries) never before it washas it been so important to correctly manage natural resources for an exponentially growing human population. It is, thus, fundamental to predict where other species occur and the sizes of their populations (abundance). Population Ecology is an area dedicated to the dynamics of population development. In this module we will look closely at how populations are regulated, from within through density dependent factors and from external density independent factors. We start the module with a global environmental change perspective to the management of populations and the factors that affect the population size. We then extend these ideas to help us understand population properties and processes both intra-specifically and inter-specifically. Finally we examine several management applications where we show that a good understanding of the population modelling is essential to correctly manage natural resources on the planet. Practicals include learning to survey butterflies and birds using citizen science monitoring projects and will be focused on delivering statistical analyses of "Big data" using the programme R-studio. The projects will provide a strong training in both subject specific and transferable skills.

ENV-5014A

20

Students will select 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits

AQUATIC ECOLOGY

Explore how chemical, physical and biological influences shape the biological communities of rivers, lakes and estuaries in temperate and tropical regions. Three field visits and laboratory work, usually using microscopes and sometimes analysing water quality, provide an important practical component to this module. A good complement to other ecology modules, final-year Catchment Water Resources and modules in development studies or geography, it can also be taken alongside Aquatic Biogeochemistry or other geochemical and hydrology modules. Students selecting this module must have a background in basic statistical analysis of data.

ENV-5001A

20

BEHAVIOURAL ECOLOGY

We will explore how evolution and ecology shape animal behaviour, examining how important traits have evolved to maximise survival and reproduction in the natural environment. Darwinian principles provide the theoretical framework, and we will explore key concepts of selfishness, altruism, conflict, survival, optimality, reproduction, parental care and death. Relevant research will be used to lead our understanding of the ultimate function of key traits. In parallel with the lectures, students design, conduct, analyse and present their own research project, working in a group to collect original data in order to answer a question about the adaptive significance of behaviour.

BIO-5010B

20

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND HUMAN SOCIETY

The global biodiversity crisis threatens mass species loss. What are the implications for society? How can communities solve this problem in a world that is facing other challenges of climate change, food security, environmental and social justice? In this inter-disciplinary module, (designed for students of Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology and International Development who have an interest in biodiversity and its conservation), you will focus on the interactions between biodiversity and human societies. The module adopts a rigorous evidence-based approach. You will first critically examine the human drivers of biodiversity loss and the importance of biodiversity to human society, to understand how underlying perspectives and motivations influence approaches to conservation. You will then examine conflicts between human society and conservation and how these potentially can be resolved, reviewing institutions and potential instruments for biodiversity conservation in both Europe and developing countries. Coursework is inter-disciplinary and will require you to evaluate and communicate the quality of evidence showing effectiveness of conservation interventions and approaches. IN TAKING THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT TAKE ENV-7041A

ENV-6006A

20

BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY AND MARINE ECOLOGY

Explore the evolution, biodiversity and ecology of bacteria, diatoms, coccolithophores and nitrogen fixers, and the physiology and distribution of zooplankton. You will study ecosystems such as the Antarctic, mid ocean gyres and Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems in detail, and predict the impact of environmental change (increasing temperature, decreasing pH, decreasing oxygen, and changes in nutrient supply) on marine ecosystem dynamics. Biological oceanographic methods will be critically evaluated. The module will include a reading week in week 7 and a voluntary employability visit to the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). You will be expected to have some background in biology, e.g. have taken a biology, ecology or biogeochemistry based second year module in order to study this module.

ENV-6005A

20

COMMUNITY, ECOSYSTEM AND MACRO-ECOLOGY

This module introduces you to major concepts and definitions in community ecology, macro-ecology and biogeography. You will use these to explore how communities are structured in relation to local-scale to regional-scale processes, how they function and respond to perturbations at different scales, and result in emergent macro- to global-scale patterns of biodiversity distribution. Throughout the module, there is an emphasis on the relevance of theory and fundamental science to understanding the current environmental and biodiversity crisis. Anthropogenic impacts on natural communities through land-use, species exploitation, non-native species, and climate change, are a recurrent theme underpinning the examples you will draw upon.

BIO-5014B

20

CONSERVATION, ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY IN THE TROPICS (FIELDCOURSE)

This module is for students on relevant courses in the Schools of BIO, ENV, DEV and NAT. NOTE: There will be a significant additional cost to this module to cover the costs of transportation and accommodation in the field. Costs will be detailed at an initial meeting for interested students and clearly advertised. 2017/18 costs are GBP1300 per student. Students will need to provide any visas required for entry into the host country, sturdy walking boots and appropriate field clothing. all attendees must ensure that all travel vaccinations etc are in order prior to departure. Conservation ecology and biodiversity are central areas of research in the biological sciences and they share many theories, concepts and scientific methods. This module intends to take a practical approach to the commonalities in these areas using a combination of seminar work and fieldwork. The seminars will develop ideas in tropical biology and students will research issues affecting conservation of biodiversity in the tropics, considering the species ecology and the habitats, threats and challenges. There will be a significant component of small group work and directed, independent learning. The field component of this module will be a two week residential field trip to the tropics, one of two field sites (depending on numbers of students and availability).The field sites are run by expert field ecologists and during the two weeks we will explore the local environment, learn about the ecology of the landscape and about the species that inhabit the area. We will develop and run practical sessions on survey and census techniques, use of technology in modern field biology and the role of protected areas in species conservation. Students will conduct original research on the field trip, informed by prior research at UEA, to gain a deeper understanding of an aspect of tropical biology. There will be an assessed presentation on the field trip and many opportunities to develop the students own interests. All student participants will take an active role in the organisation and running of the module in order to gain project management and field logistics experience. Students will be responsible for the sourcing, storage and transport of field equipment on the way to the field site and of samples on the return to the UK. Students will gain experience of travelling to a remote area and of working through licensing and customs processes. At the end of the module a report is written on the field project in the style of a journal article addressing specific questions in ecology conservation or biodiversity. Throughout the module students will be expected to maintain a modern-media record of their project from the initial desk based work at UEA, through the field component to outcomes and reporting.

BIO-5020K

20

ECOLOGY RESEARCH PROJECT

You will design and undertake an independent research project under the supervision of staff members from the Centre for Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (CEEC). You may choose to conduct fieldwork in the summer vacation preceding the third year or during the Autumn semester. Project topics should be selected during the spring semester of your second year (or beginning of the third year, in the case of Year Abroad Ecology students), in consultation with CEEC faculty. You are strongly encouraged to develop your own project ideas. Recent issues of ecological journals in the library can be consulted for ideas.

BIO-6022Y

40

ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS AND POLICY MAKING

The most significant obstacles to problem solving are often political, not scientific or technological. This module examines the emergence and processes of environmental politics. It analyses these from different theoretical perspectives, particularly theories of power and public policy making. The module is focused on contemporary examples of politics and policy making at UK, EU and international levels. The module supports student-led learning by enabling students to select (and develop their own theoretical interpretations of) 'real world' examples of politics. Assessment is via seminar presentations and a case study essay. The module assumes no prior knowledge of politics.

ENV-5002B

20

EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

This module investigates the principles of evolutionary biology, covering various sub-disciplines, i.e. adaptive evolution, population ecology, molecular and population genetics, speciation, biogeography, systematics, and finishing with an overview of Biodiversity. This module will enable you to understand, analyse and evaluate the fundamentals of evolutionary biology and be able to synthesise the various components into an overall appreciation of how evolution works. Key topics and recent research will be used to highlight advances in the field and inspire thought. Weekly interactive workshops will explore a number of the conceptual issues in depth through discussions, modelling and problem solving. Although there are no pre-requisites in terms of specific modules, students without a basic understanding of Evolution and Genetics will have difficulties undertaking this module.

BIO-5008B

20

FIELD ECOLOGY

This module aims to introduce you to a wide range of habitats and methods for studying the organisms and natural processes occurring in these habitats. The focus is on identification of species and on formulating and testing hypotheses to investigate interactions between species and their habitats or on examining environmental gradients. The module includes a two week residential field trip to Ireland before the start of the first semester in the autumn term. This module would suit you if you are interested in natural history, geography, ecology and designing and testing scientific hypotheses.

BIO-5013A

20

GIS SKILLS FOR PROJECT WORK

This module builds upon the introduction to GIS provided in the first year Research and Field Skills module, focusing on how you obtain your data, integrate it and then undertake analysis and presentation tasks. ESRI ArcGIS will be the main software used, but there will also be an introduction to scripting tools (Python), open source software (QGIS) and online GIS (ArcGIS Online). Teaching will consist of a one-hour lecture and a three-hour practical class each week.

ENV-5028B

20

POPULATION ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT

We live in a human dominated era recently designated "the Anthropocene". Humans harvest more than half of the primary productivity of the planet, many resources are over-exploited or depleted (e.g. fisheries) never before it washas it been so important to correctly manage natural resources for an exponentially growing human population. It is, thus, fundamental to predict where other species occur and the sizes of their populations (abundance). Population Ecology is an area dedicated to the dynamics of population development. In this module we will look closely at how populations are regulated, from within through density dependent factors and from external density independent factors. We start the module with a global environmental change perspective to the management of populations and the factors that affect the population size. We then extend these ideas to help us understand population properties and processes both intra-specifically and inter-specifically. Finally we examine several management applications where we show that a good understanding of the population modelling is essential to correctly manage natural resources on the planet. Practicals include learning to survey butterflies and birds using citizen science monitoring projects and will be focused on delivering statistical analyses of "Big data" using the programme R-studio. The projects will provide a strong training in both subject specific and transferable skills.

ENV-5014A

20

SOCIAL EVOLUTION

Life is organised hierarchically. Genes aggregate in cells, cells aggregate in organisms, and organisms aggregate in societies. Each step in the formation of this hierarchy is termed a major evolutionary transition. Because common principles of social evolution underlie each transition, the study of altruism and cooperation in nature has broadened out to embrace the fundamental hierarchical structure common to all life. This module investigates this new vision of social evolution. It explores how principles of social evolution underlying each transition illuminate our understanding of life's diversity and organisation, using examples ranging from selfish genetic elements to social insects and mammals.

BIO-6011B

20

SUSTAINABILITY, SOCIETY AND BIODIVERSITY

Striking a balance between societal development, economic growth and environmental conservation has proven challenging and contentious at many scales. The concept of `sustainability' was coined to denote processes aiming to achieve this balance. This module introduces sustainable development, and examines why sustainability is so difficult to achieve, bringing together social and ecological dimensions. It also explores sustainability from an ecological perspective, introducing a range of concepts relevant to the structure and functioning of the biosphere and topics ranging from landscape and population ecology, to behavioural ecology, molecular ecology, and biodiversity conservation from single ornisms to the entire biomes. This module is assessed by coursework and an examination.

ENV-4006B

20

Students will select modules worth 20 credits from the course catalogue with the approval of their School

Disclaimer

Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Any discipline
  • Degree Classification Bachelors degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent)
  • Alternative Qualifications Relevant work experience is desirable but not essential.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 50 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

 

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2019/20 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,700 (full time)
  • International Students: £19,400 (full time)

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

 

Living Expenses

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

 

 

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online, or by downloading the application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
Email: admissions@uea.ac.uk

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515