MSc Applied Ecology - International Programme

Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)


We have been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for 50 years of ground-breaking environmental science at UEA. The royal accolade from the Queen is the UK’s most prestigious higher education award.

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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 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 120 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.




This interdisciplinary 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. You will 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.




How do you test a hypothesis? How do you compare biological traits between wild populations? And how do you best test and visualise differences between samples? Scientists use a wide array of methods for statistical analysis and plotting data, and increasingly, these tasks are carried out using R. R is a free programming language for statistical computing and graphics, including general and generalised linear models, time-series analysis, and community analysis, and also specialised analyses in many scientific subfields. Learning R will equip you with a flexible statistical, modelling, and graphics tool. Learning the basics of running R in the RStudio programming environment, you'll spend most of your time on general and generalised linear models, which unify the range of statistical tests that are classically taught separately: t-test, ANOVA, regression, logistic regression, and chi-square, plus residuals analysis. Additionally, you'll learn how to use R to write simple programs and carry out community analyses such as principal components analysis. Finally, throughout the class, you'll learn R methods for data formatting, graphics, and documentation. On successful completion of this module you'll be able to use R to carry out and present results from the most widely used statistical tests in current scientific practice, giving you sufficient knowledge to continue learning statistical analysis on your own. A pre-requisite of first and/or second year statistical modules is required.



Students will select 60 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 major roles in shaping human history, and the prospect of human-caused global warming is a pressing challenge for society. But how and why has climate changed, how do we predict future climate and how do our choices affect future climate? Throughout this module, you will learn how climate science can answer these questions. Discover the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years. You'll also explore the scientific evidence about climate change and where the uncertainties lie. Starting with an introduction to the changing climate and the main themes in current climate research, your study will be structured around three topics. (1) Fundamentals of the changing climate 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), analysis of observational data (focusing on the global temperature record and causes of recent climate change), and an introduction to energy balance models and general circulation models. (3) Climate change and causal mechanisms, concentrating on the period from 1000 CE to the present and climate projections out to 2100 CE. Studying the physical science basis of climate change will enable you to understand what controls our climate, to explain the causes of the changes we have observed, and to interpret projections of future climate change.




This is a practical module that provides training for anyone who intends to carry out ecological research or who needs to interpret and evaluate the results of ecological surveys carried out by a third party. It offers vocational training for work with conservation agencies and ecological consultancies and preparatory training for students who will do ecological fieldwork for their MSc dissertation, or subsequent PhD. 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, you 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.




The premise from which this module starts is that Climate Change is fundamentally an energy systems problem. It will equip you with an in depth understanding of the complexities of changing energy systems, enabling you to critically engage with debates around future "energy transitions" and the role that various technologies might play. Drawing on historical evidence, you will learn about the key relationships between energy, fossil fuels and the economy. Looking forward, you will learn about the role of energy scenarios and the different ways of intervening in energy systems. A key purpose of the module is to explore the significance and potential of technological change, drawing on different theories of innovation to assess the likely effects of emergent technologies. You will learn through lectures, 'hands on' workshops and lively class debates which will equip you with an in-depth understanding of energy system change and its role in addressing climate change.




This module engages you in understanding complex interdisciplinary challenges associated with environmental pollution management via detailed studies of selected pollution issues. You will develop skills in quantifying and analysing problems and developing and presenting effective policy responses. Environmental pollution is a growing human footprint on the Earth system and is a contributing factor to major environmental challenges we face today, for example: provision of clean water; the sustainable production of safe food, and; mitigation of impacts on health human and ecological receptors. We will examine 3 major types of environmental pollution, involving the atmosphere, aquatic systems and soils, in depth. Your learning will come through lectures, seminars and self-directed study. There is also some practical work to help you to develop hands-on skills. The seminar discussions will give you the chance to discuss and debate your ideas on competing societal priorities, such as the conflicts between food production and the pollution arising from the use of fertilisers. The assessments are a short essay aimed at a general science audience (33%) and a report (67%). On successful completion of this module you will be able to evaluate complex arguments relating the chemistry and toxicology of pollutants to policy issues, political decisions and social perceptions of the environment. You will develop chemical understanding of pollutants as well as numerical skills and an understanding of how mathematical models assist in predictions of pollutant behaviour. You will also improve your communication of complex evidence and your ideas, empathise with other viewpoints and give balanced evaluation.




The aim of this module is to give you a deep understanding about conservation genetics / genomics based on an evolutionary / population-genetic framework. We will cover 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 you if you plan to continue with a PhD in ecology, genetics, conservation, or evolution. If you wish to deepen your knowledge in conservation / evolution / genetics you will also benefit from this module.




Study a set of proposed techniques, collective known as geoengineering, that seek to modify the Earth's climate by reducing the degree of anthropogenic radiative forcing, either by reflecting more sunlight back to space or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This complex, controversial and highly uncertain area of science requires a strongly interdisciplinary approach. The potential role of geoengineering techniques as a complement to mitigation and adaptation in tackling future climate change raises a number of important questions - not least for international policy making - that you will explore.




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 and environmental research, but are particularly useful for the creation of variables needed for modelling environmental change. There will be extensive emphasis on practical GIS skills.




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; 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 skills developed in this module are highly valued by prospective employers.




Air pollution is one of the most significant environmental problems of the 21st century, with serious implications for human health, ecosystem and infrastructure damage, as well as global atmospheric and climate change. In this module, you'll study the methods used to monitor air pollutants at urban, regional and global scales, and explore how these measurements are interpreted using a variety of numerical models and graphical tools.




Environmental economics provides a set of tools and principles which can be useful in understanding natural resource management issues. This module introduces you to key principles and tools of environmental economics for students who have not studied the subject previously. It then explores how these principles can be applied to address a number of complex economy-environment problems including climate change, over-fishing and water resources management. In this module you will have the opportunity to practically apply cost-benefit analysis as a framework for decision-making and will gain knowledge on the key non-market valuation techniques that are used to monetarily value environmental goods and services. At the end of the module you will have gained insights into how environmental economics is used in developing natural resource management policy as well as some of the challenges in using environmental economics in policy-making.




This course seeks to provide students with a solid understanding of political ecology theory and to enable them to apply this theory for analyzing environment and development problems. After a brief introduction to key theoretical concepts in political ecology, students review key contributions to major policy fields in environment and development. They do this in a series of reading seminars, covering agriculture and biotechnology, climate change, conservation, fisheries, forestry, water management and other fields. The course ends with a workshop on the role of policy in political ecology.




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. You can receive help from faculty in setting up placements but will be responsible for your own transportation to and from the workplace.




How can science and society work better together to solve sustainability challenges? How can society be properly engaged and accounted for in addressing pressing issues like climate change, energy transitions and natural hazards? These questions, that lie at the core of this module, have become major concerns for scientists, governments, businesses, NGOs and citizens the world over. Throughout the module you will gain a rich appreciation of key theories, approaches and practical methods for understanding and improving relations between science, technology and society in sustainability settings. You'll explore the nature of science and how it relates to society. You'll discover a wealth of approaches for public engagement with science, and consider how sustainability can be more effectively governed. You'll also learn how to critically evaluate and communicate these ideas through written, oral and self-reflective means. You'll begin the module by considering how relations between science and society have evolved over time and are viewed differently by different disciplines. The fascinating interdisciplinary field called science and technology studies (STS) will provide a key resource that you will become an expert in as you progress. The module's three main parts will take you on a journey to develop your own critical insights. In part 1 you will consider the nature of science and its relation to society, through examining science controversies like 'climategate' and GM crops. In part 2 you will explore new forms of public engagement with science and technology, such as science communication, deliberative democracy, citizen science, and smart technologies in the home. In part 3 you will study pioneering new ways of governing science and sustainability in fairer and more socially responsible ways, through responsible innovation of climate geoengineering for example. You'll learn through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, in-class debates, and self-directed study. Your new knowledge and skills will be put into practice by creating a blog to communicate your ideas, as well as through written work and presentations. You'll also benefit from the module being taught by staff in the Science, Society and Sustainability (3S) Research Group, which houses some of the world's leading experts on societal engagement with sustainability.




From supernovae and the early condensation of the solar system, through the climate history of the planet and on to studies of stratospheric chemistry, research using stable isotopes has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the processes that shape the Earth. You'll explore 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. Teaching is by a mix lectures, student led seminars and practicals, including hands-on experience in the stable isotope laboratory.




If everyone on Earth lived like a typical UK citizen we'd need three planets-worth of resources. But we only have one. Why do we consume the way we do? What drives our behaviour and how might we persuade people to live more sustainably? What do we mean by a sustainable lifestyle, anyway? These are questions academics, businesspeople, campaigners and policymakers struggle with every day and there are no easy answers. In this module you'll get to grips with competing visions about what sustainable consumption is. You'll gain an understanding of a range of theoretical approaches to understanding consumption behaviour and you'll learn how to apply these theories to develop strategies for achieving sustainable consumption. You'll begin by examining the impacts of western-style consumerism on the Earth's social, economic and environmental systems. Using concepts such as ecological footprinting, needs and wellbeing, you'll take a closer look at how economic and environmental systems interact. You'll contrast a 'green growth' approach to sustainable consumption with a more radical 'de-growth' model. Drawing on interdisciplinary social science theories from economics, psychology, sociology and ethnography, you'll go on to investigate a range of strategies for achieving change, by government, business, civil society, and individual consumers. You'll get hands-on experience testing and applying these ideas yourselves, in participative workshops, alongside award-winning innovative teaching methods. In lectures, you'll learn about topics such as Ethical Consumption, Limits to Growth, Collaborative Consumption, Community-based initiatives, Life Cycle Analysis and Behaviour-change campaigns. Understanding the theoretical debates behind everyday actions for sustainability will make you better able to design and implement sustainability strategies in the workplace - whether in the public or private sector, or civil society. You'll be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in sustainable consumption campaigns and policies, and offer theoretically-informed solutions.




You will study 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.




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.

Further Reading

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 variety of Scholarships may be offered to UK/EU and International students. Scholarships are normally awarded to students on the basis of academic merit and are usually for the duration of the period of study. Please click here for more detailed information about funding for prospective 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