Graduate Diploma Ecology

This Graduate Diploma in Ecology consists of a range of Honours level units covering topics in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Biology. The course gives you the chance to build on your undergraduate study and develop a deeper understanding of Ecology as well as an excellent range of transferrable skills.

The Diploma is great preparation for further study or a variety of exciting careers – whatever your path, you’ll have the chance to customise the course with optional modules in topics like Aquatic Ecology, GIS Skills, and Environmental Politics and Policy Making. You’ll also be trained in field work, team work, data mining and analysis, critical writing, and communication.

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 like the RSPB and CEFAS.

Overview

The Graduate Diploma in Ecology combines a selection of honours level units specifically designed to give you a strong training in ecological theory and skills.

The programme focuses primarily in the areas of population ecology and conservation biology, but is sufficiently flexible to enable you to strengthen your knowledge in other areas of ecology. Topics include: 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 responses to natural environments and man-induced stress; the current research agenda in ecology, evolution and conservation; and the potential contribution of integrating sustainable development with biodiversity conservation.

The 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 the lecturers are internationally recognised researchers in their discipline, and with ‘research-led’ taught units you will benefit from learning at the ‘cutting-edge’ of the discipline. You will also have the opportunity to take one unit in any field of study taught at the University in the form of a ‘free-choice’ unit.

The Graduate Diploma is specifically designed to ensure you will 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, team work, critical writing, reasoning and time management. Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and field work and assessment is in the form of coursework, presentations, projects and examinations. 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.

Please note that this course runs an optional 2 week field course module, which takes place immediately 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. 

 

Course Modules

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? This inter-disciplinary module focused on the interactions between biodiversity and human societies is designed for students of Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology and International Development who have an interest in biodiversity and its conservation.

ENV-6006A

20

COMMUNITY, ECOSYSTEM AND MACRO-ECOLOGY

This module introduces the major community concepts and definitions, before looking in some detail at community patterns and processes including: species interactions; energy flows and productivity; and the hierarchy of drivers influencing community assembly, structure and diversity. Progression through these topics culminates in a macro-ecological perspective on community patterns and biodiversity. Throughout the module, there is an emphasis on the relevance of ecological theory and the fundamental science to the current environmental and biodiversity crisis. Anthropogenic impacts on natural communities through land-use, non-native species and pathogens, and climate change, are a recurrent theme underpinning the examples we 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 was 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. The projects will provide a strong training in both subject specific and transferrable skills.

ENV-5014A

20

Students will select 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits

AQUATIC ECOLOGY

An analysis of how chemical, physical and biological influences shape the biological communities of rivers, lakes and estuaries in temperate and tropical regions. There is an important practical component to this module that includes three field visits and laboratory work, usually using microscopes and sometimes analyzing water quality. The first piece of course work involves statistical analysis of class data. The module fits well with other ecology modules, final-year Catchment Water Resources and with modules in development studies or geography. It can also be taken alongside Aquatic Biogeochemistry, other geochemical modules and hydrology. Students must have a background in basic statistical analysis of data. Lectures will show how the chemical and physical features of freshwaters influence their biological communities. Students may attend video screenings that complement lectures with examples of aquatic habitats in the tropics.

ENV-5001A

20

BEHAVIOURAL ECOLOGY

In this module, the interrelationships between animal behaviour, ecology and evolution will be explored. Students will examine how behaviour has evolved to maximise survival and reproduction in the natural environment. Darwinian principles will provide the theoretical framework, within which the module will seek to explain the ultimate function of animal behaviours. Concepts and examples will be developed through the lecture series, exploring behaviours in the context of altruism, optimality, foraging, and particularly reproduction, the key currency of evolutionary success. In parallel with the lectures, students will design, conduct, analyse and present their own research project, collecting original data 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? This inter-disciplinary module focused on the interactions between biodiversity and human societies is designed for students of Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology and International Development who have an interest in biodiversity and its conservation.

ENV-6006A

20

BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY AND MARINE ECOLOGY

This module explores the evolution, biodiversity and ecology of bacteria, diatoms, coccolithophores and nitrogen fixers, and the physiology and distribution of zooplankton. Example ecosystems such as the Antarctic, mid ocean gyres and Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems will be studied in detail and predictions of the impact of environmental change (increasing temperature, decreasing pH, decreasing oxygen, and changes in nutrient supply) on marine ecosystem dynamics will be examined. 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). Students are expected to have some background in biology, e.g. have taken a biology, ecology or biogeochemistry based second year module.

ENV-6005A

20

COMMUNITY, ECOSYSTEM AND MACRO-ECOLOGY

This module introduces the major community concepts and definitions, before looking in some detail at community patterns and processes including: species interactions; energy flows and productivity; and the hierarchy of drivers influencing community assembly, structure and diversity. Progression through these topics culminates in a macro-ecological perspective on community patterns and biodiversity. Throughout the module, there is an emphasis on the relevance of ecological theory and the fundamental science to the current environmental and biodiversity crisis. Anthropogenic impacts on natural communities through land-use, non-native species and pathogens, and climate change, are a recurrent theme underpinning the examples we 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. 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 procurement, 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

Students design and undertake an independent research project under the supervision of staff members from the Centre for Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (CEEC). Students may choose to conduct fieldwork in the summer vacation preceding the 3rd 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. Students are strongly encouraged to develop their 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 4000 word 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 indepth through discussions, modelling and problem solving.

BIO-5008B

20

FIELD ECOLOGY

Students explore the ecology of moorlands, bogs, sand dunes, rocky shores, estuaries and woodlands. Students should develop skills in identifying plants and animals using scientific keys, carrying out quantitative surveys and statistically analysing their data. Strong emphasis is placed on student-lead project work. The bulk of the teaching takes place on a two week field course in Western Ireland, that runs immediately before the start of the Autumn Semester.

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 students can obtain their own data, integrate it together 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) and open source software (QGIS). Teaching will consist of a one-hour lecture and a three-hour practical class each week. Students should expect to spend a significant amount of time outside of scheduled classes on their formative and summative coursework.

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 was 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. The projects will provide a strong training in both subject specific and transferrable 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 protection has proven challenging and contentious. 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 perspectives. 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, physiological, molecular ecology, and biodiversity conservation at different scales. 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. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject This programme is open to students with a first degree in any discipline along with a strong academic background.
  • Degree Classification Good first 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): 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 intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

 

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home/EU:

     Full-time £7,300, Part-time £3,650

     If you choose to study part-time, please assume a pro-rata fee for the credits you are taking, or 50% of the equivalent fee per year if you are taking a full-time course on a part-time basis.  

  • Overseas:

      Full-time £18,200

      If you are classed as an 'overseas' student and are coming to UEA on a student or visitor's visa, UK visa rules won't normally allow you to study on a part-time course. You should always check with the UKVI for the latest requirement.

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