MSc Applied Ecology and Conservation


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Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)


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This course allows you to specialise in Ecology and Conservation with tuition from world-leading experts based in our Schools of Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences. You’ll study core modules on ecological survey methods, current issues in conservation, research skills and statistics alongside a wide range of optional modules that allow you to focus on the topics you’re really interested in.

The year-long degree also incorporates a field course and an in-depth dissertation that will help you develop a large amount of transferrable skills as well as links to national and international conservation organisations.

We have very strong academic expertise in Ecology and Conservation, 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 like the RSPB and CEFAS.


The MSc Applied Ecology and Conservation provides a flexible course structure suitable for students who wish to acquire the skills necessary for a range of careers in conservation and applied ecology. The programme aims to provide you with interdisciplinary training forming an ideal platform either for continuation to doctoral research or for direct access into conservation related employment.

The course runs over a full calendar year starting with a field course. You will take a combination of taught modules during the first half of the year with the second half spent on an individual research project, often overseas. In addition to core modules in ecological survey methods, current issues in conservation, research skills for ecologists and statistics, you will be able to choose from a broad range of optional modules, including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), practical conservation and work placement, restoration ecology, conservation genetics, biodiversity conservation and human society and ecological modelling.

Conservation biologists and ecologists in the Schools of Biological and Environmental Sciences and leading conservation organisations conduct most of the teaching.

In addition to in-depth exposure to global conservation issues the course provides training in a range of transferable skills and will provide you with an opportunity to establish valuable contacts with potential employers through short and long term work experience and research interaction with a range of national and international conservation organisations.

Case study

A rare and elusive rabbit has been found, held and photographed by a researcher currently studying for a Masters in Applied Ecology and Conservation at UEA. Her story recently received national press attention. Read more about Sarah's discovery

Examples of some recent research projects conducted by students on this MSc course include:

  • The vulnerability of birds to climate change (with Birdlife International)
  • Mandrills in Gabon: current status and threats (with the Wildlife Conservation Society)
  • Microhabitat and dietary preferences of Telfair’s skink on Round Island: implications for translocation (with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation)
  • Nest-site selection and poaching in Yellow-headed Amazon parrots (with the World Land Trust)
  • Crab as indicators of habitat quality (with Nature Seychelles)


“I found the MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation to be an excellent course to help develop my career. The diverse range of modules allows anyone to mould the course to their interests, while the core classes ensure a sound grounding in the whole process of planning, fundraising for, and running a research project.”

Joe Hawes Former student

Course Modules 2017/8

Students must study the following modules for 140 credits:

Name Code Credits


A full-time research project that runs from mid March to early August. This entails an extensive, original and quantitative investigation on a conservation or applied ecology topic carried out in the field or laboratory, or may involve analysis of existing data. The project may be undertaken in the Schools of BIO or ENV, or with an international, national or local conservation agency. Projects are supervised by faculty. The research project is written up as a c.10,000 word dissertation with a submission deadline in early August. This is a compulsory module.




The module includes lectures, workshops, pratical classes and field trips and covers the key considerations underpinning effective ecological survey design and implemetation. Following initial lectures on research planning and study design, students will explore and gain first-hand experience in a variety of methods for surveying plants, animals and habitats, including the use of remote census techniques such as radio-tracking and trail cameras.




This inter-disciplinary module focuses on the critical evaluation of scientific evidence as a basis for effective biodiversity conservation policy, strategy and interventions, in a world challenged by climate change, population growth and the need for socio-economic development and environmental justice. Students attend an initial block of lectures examining socio-economic drivers of biodiversity loss and motivations for conservation, challenging common assumptions and outlining conceptual frameworks for conservation interventions. A series of seminars by global conservation practitioners provide insights to implementation and employability. Coursework assessments designed to develop skills of evaluating, synthesising and communicating scientific evidence, are supported by feed-forward formative exercises.




This is a compulsory module of the MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation. Multivariate statistics used in advanced ecological analyses are covered in this module. These include General Linear Models, Analysis of Variance, Logistic Regression, and Principal Components Analysis. Students will learn how to run these tests using the statistical package SPSS and how to critique, interpret, and present the results. Previous knowledge of basic statistics is necessary (e.g. BIO-7026A or equivalent).




This is an introduction for some students and a refresher for others. Simple tests for trends (correlation, regression) and for differences (Chi-square, t-tests, ANOVAs) are introduced using a friendly statistical package (SPSSx for Windows). The link between statistics and experimental design is stressed.



Students will select 40 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


The aim of this module is to give students a deep understanding about conservation genetics / genomics based on an evolutionary / population-genetic framework, thereby covering contemporary issues in conservation biology, evolution, population biology, genetics, organismal phylogeny, Next Generation Sequencing, and molecular ecology. A background in evolution, genetics, and molecular biology is recommended. This is an advanced course in evolutionary biology / conservation genetics that will benefit students who plan to continue with a PhD in ecology, genetics, conservation, or evolution, plus students wishing to deepen their knowledge in conservation / evolution / genetics.




This module will provide essential GIS tools and principles that will be applied to modelling ecological responses to environmental change. Core GIS skills will be delivered. These include field data collection and extraction of data from national and global databases. It will include the manipulation of such files and particular attention will be paid to understanding the uncertainties associated with such analyses. These skills are important in many areas of ecological research, but are particularly useful for the creation of variables needed for modelling environmental change. There will be extensive emphasis on practical GIS skills delivered using the ArcGIS software.




This module entails 5 days of unpaid work placement in various international, national or local conservation organisations and ecological consultancies. The days may be carried out with more than one organisation, need not be consecutive and may be spread across both semesters. Students can receive help from faculty in setting up placements but will be responsible for their transportation to and from the workplace.




An introduction to the principles and practice of ecological restoration. The causes of ecosystem degradation and practical measures for enhancement, restoration and creation are examined using actual case studies. We review methods and outcomes of restoration in a wide diversity of ecosystems to illustrate contrasting problems and approaches to solving them. Aquatic systems include shallow eutrophic lakes and rivers, coral reefs and intertidal habitats; consideration of terrestial systems emphasizes lowland heathland, coastal beaches and dunes, woodland and forest, and remote tropical islands. Three field trips to contrasting projects based in East Anglia will give first-hand experience of restoration in action, as well as illustrating work at different stages and in different habitats.




R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics that has rapidly gained popularity among scientists and is now the most commonly used software tool in several environmental sciences. R provides a variety of statistical techniques (including general and generalised linear models, classical hypothesis testing, time-series analysis, community analysis, etc.). One of R's strengths is the capacity to produce publication-quality figures, including mathematical symbols and formulae. Using the R software as a platform will equip students with a flexible statistical and modelling tool, and the "R way of statistics" greatly facilitates the understanding of modelling and statistics.




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.

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Biology-related subject plus evidence of additional conservation experience. First degrees in geography or environmental management are also accepted if these contain a strong ecological component.
  • Degree Classification Good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent)
  • Alternative Qualifications Non-scientists wanting to retrain may take the one year Diploma in Ecology and enter the MSc Applied Ecology & Conservation the following year.

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): 62 (minimum 55 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

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees for 2018/19:

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £9,000
  • International Students: £19,000

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).

International applicants from outside the EU may need to pay a deposit.

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


50% Final Year Undergraduate Continuation Scholarship

Current final year UEA undergraduate students who gain a First class degree and progress onto a postgraduate course in September 2017 will receive a 50% fee reduction scholarship. Who do not gain a First class degree will be eligible for the 10% UEA Alumni Scholarship outlined below. Terms and conditions apply.

UEA Alumni 10% Scholarship

A scholarship of 10% fee reduction is available to UEA Alumni looking to return for postgraduate study at UEA in September 2017. Terms and conditions apply.

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

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: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515