MSc Applied Ecology - International Programme

Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)


White storks are addicted to junk food and make round-trips of almost 100km to get their fix – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

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Students on a field trip to Ecuador.


Widely hailed as a renewable natural resource, tropical timber from old-growth tropical forests is selectively logged worldwide at an unprecedented scale according to new research from UEA.

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The International Masters in Applied Ecology brings together nine leading Universities from across the world to train specialists who can lead ecological projects in a wide range of environments.

You’ll focus on a major field of Ecology – such as Biodiversity, Ecotoxicology or Evolutionary Ecology – while attending courses and field trips in locations as diverse as Ecuador, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands. The course consists of a number of optional modules that you can use to tailor your learning, before completing a Masters-level dissertation on your chosen subject.

This unique course gives you the chance to visit different countries and learn about practical Ecology with experts from some of the best Ecology departments in the world. The School of Environmental Sciences at UEA was ranked 1st in the UK for the impact of our research, and we’ve got fantastic links with major industry, NGO and governmental organisations.


“The IMAE experience can be summed up with one word 'diversity'. There is a diversity of modules and research specialisations ranging from ecotoxicology to conservation-related social studies. There is a diversity of educational systems and lifestyles to experience in different countries. Students of this course come from a diversity of countries and cultural backgrounds. This is the course for people who do not want to follow conventions.”

- Ter Yang Goh, IMAE MSc student 2012-14


The International Masters in Applied Ecology (IMAE) is an exciting international programme involving nine prestigious Universities. While learning at the forefront of research in applied ecology, you will connect with at least four different University environments, three in Europe and one in Latin America.

The IMAE is a two-year Masters programme involving the following institutions:

The course aims to form specialists able to develop and lead ecological projects throughout the world by providing them with a wide range of competences and skills, completed by a professional specialisation in one of several leading fields of Ecology (Biodiversity conservation, Ecotoxicology, Functional ecosystem dynamics, Systems theory and ecosystem services, Evolutionary ecology, Biodiversity assessment, analyses and conservation). You can browse a full list of our previous students' theses to see what kind of topics we cover.

During the first year of the programme you will attend courses in three different EU countries and will travel to Ecuador for a field trip that includes Galapagos Islands, Ecuadorean Andes and Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.

During the second year you will choose a specialisation and will be based in one of the IMAE Universities. Fieldwork for the dissertation can be undertaken in a number of different locations around the world.

Further information about this course is available from the main International Master in Applied Ecology website.

The IMAE programme is an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course (EMMC) supported by the European commission.

At the end of the IMAE programme you will have a multiple degree depending on which Universities you engaged. A final certificate is awarded from University of Poitiers stating all Universities where you have attended courses.

Read more about the field trip to Ecuador at:

View a short video made by some of our students containing photos from their time in Norwich and other locations across the world.

Course Modules

Students must study the following modules for 110 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 ca10,000 word dissertation with a submission deadline in early August. This is a compulsory module.




The global biodiversity crisis and mass species loss has major implications for society - how can we solve these problems in a world challenged by climate change, population growth and the need for socio-economic development. This is an inter-disciplinary module focusing on the critical evaluation of scientific evidence as a basis for biodiversity conservation policy, strategy and instruments. It is of particular interest to Applied Ecology and Conservation MSc (AEC, BIO) students and is compulsory for MSc students of the International Master in Applied Ecology (IMAE, ENV) and for the MSc in Environmental Sciences Pathway in Ecology and Economics for Sustainability. Students attend an initial block of lectures critically reviewing the context for biodiversity conservation, socio-economic drivers of biodiversity loss and the importance of biodiversity to human society, challenging the assumption that ecosystem services are synonymous with conservation and exploring how differing perspectives influence conservation approaches. We examine conflicts between biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, and review approaches for resolving these (including market-based approaches, Payments for Environmental Services, and REDD+). The module is assessed by coursework designed to develop transferable skills of evidence-based scientific appraisal, including: identification of relevant evidence needs, evaluation of the quality of evidence, synthesis of policy and research implications. Assessments develop communication skills through succinct communication of scientific evidence and are supported by feed-forward formative exercises. CO-TAUGHT WITH ENV-6006A




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.



Students will select 70 credits from the following modules:

Students may also take modules from other Schools, subject to timetable compatibility, with the agreement of the Course Director and of the School concerned.

Name Code Credits


Climate change and variability have played a major role in shaping human history, and the prospect of a warming world as a result of human activities (principally via changing atmospheric composition) presents society with an increasing challenge over the coming decades. This module covers the science of climate change and our current understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate. It provides details about the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years, supporting further study of the scientific or policy aspects of the subject in either an academic or applied context. Starting with an introduction to the changing climate, techniques and approaches, and the main themes in current climate research, the module is structured around three topics: (1) fundamentals of the changing climate: techniques and approaches, including the Earth's energy balance, causes of climate change and the greenhouse effect; (2) research methods, consisting of empirical approaches to climate reconstruction (such as tree-ring research), assembly of observational data (focusing on the global temperature record) and data analysis (causes of recent climate change) and theoretical or model-based approaches (including an introduction to energy balance models and general circulation models); (3) the history of climate change and potential causal mechanisms, concentrating on the period from 1000 CE to the present and climate projections out to 2100 CE The module is lecture based but supplemented by compuyter modeling practical classes and student-led seminars.




This is a compulsory module of the MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation spanning the autumn semester and half of the spring semester. The module includes lectures, workshops, practical classes and field trips and covers the key considerations underpinning effective ecological survey design and implementation. 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 and approaches such as distance sampling and mark-release-recapture.




Climate change is an energy problem. The conversion and use of energy is responsible for the significant majority of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions to mitigate climate change implies a transformation of the current global energy system. The required energy transition must include changes in technologies, behaviours, policies, infrastructures and whole systems. To avoid the impacts of climate change associated with a >2oC rise in mean global temperatures, future energy transitions must be deep, pervasive, long-term and sustained. This module examines energy transitions for climate change mitigation from a range of perspectives, focusing on the long-term. First, the implications for climate change of current energy resources, technologies and services will be evaluated. Second, evidence from history on the drivers and dynamics of energy transitions will be considered. Third, socioeconomic scenarios of future change over the 21st century will be used to explore the prospects and potentials for mitigating climate change by transforming the global energy system. Scenarios will be critically analysed from both technological and sociotechnical perspectives, supported by relevant concepts and theories. Particular emphasis will be placed on innovation challenges and needs. Fourth, the energy system and integrated assessment models used to quantitatively analyse climate change will be reviewed, and integrative energy system challenges considered.




In this module, students will study evolutionary theory and its application to conservation genetics. The principal focus will be on how evolutionary forces (mutation, recombination, genetic drift, gene flow and selection) and epigenetics affect phenotype, behaviour and genetic variation. We will cover the rich evolutionary literature, discussing the paradigm shifting studies by Darwin, Fisher, Wright, Haldane and others. The module also covers current knowledge of molecular technology as applied to ecological, evolutionary and conservation studies.




This module will provide essential GIS tools and principles that will be applied to modelling ecological responses to environmental change, focusing on habitat and climate change. Core GIS skills will be delivered, these include field data collection and extraction of data from national and global ecological (e.g. land cover and land use) and climate databases (e.g. BADC, EU Ensembles). It will also include the manipulation of such vector and raster files using techniques such as buffers and overlays and more advanced context operators. Particular attention will be paid to understanding the uncertainties associated with such analyses. These skills are key in many areas of ecological research, but are particularly useful for the creation of variables needed for modelling environmental change. Skills will be continually assessed through online assessment. Understanding and modelling ecological responses to environmental change is essential to better manage natural resources, optimize ecosystem services and minimize biodiversity loss. Recent research shows climate can affect the functioning of communities and ecosystems through phenology mismatches and range shifts. This module will explore species and ecosystem responses to climate and habitat change, at various spatial scales from local to landscape change using GIS tools. There will be extensive emphasis on practical GIS skills which will be delivered using the open source QGIS software. Students will also be introduced to GIS with R.




The aim of this module is to understand how forces operating at the global scale affect food and agriculture. These forces include trends in farming and trade, environmental change, policy developments, and social movements. Food security is a central theme: we explore different ways food security is defined, and how it is contested internationally, considering global institutions like FAO, interest groups, and diverse policy agendas (e.g. food sufficiency, nutrition, sustainability). The module considers a range of issues currently affecting food and farming systems: environmental change, changing diets (more meat, processed foods), `post-production' concerns with food safety or farming's impact on ecosystems, global agribusiness, agricultural innovation systems, and global-scale changes in food prices. Students will gain critical understanding of debates around these issues and of how different policy actors engage with them. These actors include firms, public RandD institutions, farmers' movements, and major donors and philanthropic organizations. An abiding concern is understanding impacts for the poor and vulnerable, particularly smallholder farmers, but also consumers in the North and South, and those involved in value chains. The module will help students develop a critical and inter-disciplinary understanding of key international policy debates that have relevance to agriculture.




The aim of the module is to show how environmental problems may be solved from the initial problem, to mathematical formulation and numerical solution. Problems will be described conceptually, then defined mathematically, then solved numerically via computer programming. The module consists of lectures on numerical methods and computing practicals (using Matlab); the practicals being designed to illustrate the solution of problems using the methods covered in lectures. The module will guide students through the solution of a model of an environmental process of their own choosing. The problem will be discussed and placed into context through a project proposal, instead of an essay, and then solved and written up in a project report. The skills developed in this module are highly valued by prospective employers of students wishing to carry on into further studies or in professional employment. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-6004A OR EQUIVALENT




Have you ever wondered why human economic activity seems to be so bad for the environment? Does it have to be like that? Is it possible for human beings to enjoy high standards of living and a high quality environment? Through the study of the principles of Environmental Economics this course sets out to answer those questions. Addressing a wide-range of economy-environment problems including car pollution, over-fishing, climate change and declining oil stocks, the course shows that most environmental problems can be solved through the adoption of policies crafted with the careful application of economic reasoning. Co-taught with ENV-6012B. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-6012B OR EQUIVALENT




This module will introduce you to the technology for 21st century ocean observing systems. It aims to give you hands-on and practical experience with the latest marine technology. The module will discuss cabled ocean observatories, floats and autonomous vehicles, exploring both how they work and how they can be applied to marine monitoring. Marine autonomy is a growing area, with applications in policy (for example marine monitoring for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) and in industry (for example oil and gas, marine renewables) as well as scientific research. You will learn about the various sensors that are deployed in the ocean on these platforms, how they work, what they are used for, and how to calibrate and process the data. A key part of the module will be equipping you with skills in using ocean gliders.




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.




From supernovae and the early condensation of the solar system, through the climate history of the planet and on to modern stratospheric chemistry, studies using stable isotopes have made a significant contribution to our understanding of the processes that shape the Earth. In this module we look at the theory and practice of isotope geochemistry, covering analytical methods and mass spectrometry, fractionation processes, and isotope behaviour in chemical cycles in the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere. The course consists of lectures, practicals, including hands-on experience in the stable isotope laboratory, and student led seminars.




R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics that has rapidly gained popularity among scientists, and which is now the most commonly used software tool in several environmental sciences. R provides a wide variety of statistical techniques (including linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, 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. The insights gained and skills learned during this module will be used by students throughout their careers. This will significantly enhance students' employability and makes ENV-MA12 a flagship M-level module of the UEA.




This module investigates the impacts of consumption on social and environmental systems, and how these might be reduced. It presents the key theories and debates around sustainable consumption, and critically examines a range of strategies for achieving it, covering governmental, business, community and individual actors. A mainstream 'green growth' policy approach to sustainable consumption is contrasted with an alternative 'new economics' 'steady state economy' model, and we examine a range of perspectives on what drives consumption patterns. Workshop exercises to apply these theories to 'real world' examples will provide experiential learning opportunities. We then critically assess a selection of sustainable consumption initiatives in detail, for example local organic food, eco-housing, Transition Towns, local currencies and community-based behaviour-change campaigns. Students will be required to critically evaluate social science theories so some background in social science is stongly recommended (although not compulsory).




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 studying on the Master of Science degree programme in Applied Ecology and Conservation MUST undertake this module if they have no previous statistical experience.




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. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

Fees and Funding

  • UK/EU (to also include the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey: €4,500/year

  • International €9,000/year


A number of Scholarships are available for this course, these are funded by the EU as part of the Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses (EMMC) programme.

On average we have:

  • 7 scholarships available for EU students

  • 5 scholarships for non-EU students

How to Apply

This is an International programme coordinated by the University of Poitiers in France. Applications should be made on-line at

What makes a good application

To prepare your application consult the IMAE website, there are standard documents to fill. At UEA we are searching for highly motivated students that show initiative and enthusiasm to study applied ecology and conservation. Highly ranked applications will show evidence of:

  • Good grades in a relevant undergraduate degree (e.g. Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Natural Sciences, Geography)

  • Enthusiasm and initiative (e.g. engagement with NGO activities, organisation of events, participation in conferences)

  • Work experience in applied ecology (e. internships, volunteering work, publications)

  • Try to make sure the documents you present (including the CV) demonstrate your best evidence on all the above.

Further Information

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