MSc Applied Ecology - International Programme

Key facts

(Research Excellence Framework 2014 Times Higher Analysis)


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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Become a world-class ecological specialist on this prestigious programme that sees you study in several different universities and field locations around the world.

The MSc in Applied Ecology – International programme corresponds to the 2nd year of the International Masters in Applied Ecology at UEA. Our International Masters in Applied Ecology (IMAE) brings together nine leading international universities, giving you the chance to learn at the forefront of research in at least four institutions. 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.

This unique course gives you the chance to explore different countries and learn about practical ecology with experts from some of the best ecology departments in the world.


This International Master’s in Applied Ecology is a two-year course that brings together nine leading universities from across the world to train you as a specialist who will go on to lead ecological projects in a wide range of environments.

The institutions involved are University of East Anglia (UK), University of Poitiers (France), University of Coimbra (Portugal), Christian-Albrechts-Universitat in Kiel (Germany), University of Quito (Ecuador), University Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), University of Adelaide (Australia) and University of Otago (New Zealand).

Over the course, you will connect with at least four of these different university environments, three in Europe and one in Latin America. Through this incredible learning experience, you’ll develop a vast array of competencies and skills, completed by a professional specialisation in one of several leading fields of ecology. This could be 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' thesesto see what kind oftopics we cover.

You’ll attend courses and field trips at incredible locations around the world to support your learning and research – including Galapagos Islands,Ecuadorean AndesandYasuni Biosphere Reserve. And you’ll take a number of optional modules to tailor your learning, before completing a Master’s-level dissertation on your chosen subject.

You’ll graduate from the IMAE programme with a multiple degree and receive a certificate from University of Poitiers stating all the universities you have engaged with.

Read more about this course on the main International Master in Applied Ecology website. You can also find out more about the field trip to Ecuador or watch a short video made by some of our students featuring photos from their time in Norwich and other locationsacross the world.

Course Structure

This is a two-year course that’s based in various locations around the world – giving you a diversity of experience and environment.

During your first year on the programme you will attend courses in three different EU countries and will travel to Ecuador for a field tripthat includes Galapagos Islands, Ecuadorean AndesandYasuni Biosphere Reserve.

You’ll take two compulsory modules: Evidence-Based Global Conservation and Statistics and Modelling for Scientists Using R.

Evidence-Based Global Conservation is an interdisciplinary module focusing on the critical evaluation of scientific evidence as a basis for effective biodiversity conservation policy, strategy and interventions.

In Statistics and Modelling for Scientists Using R you’ll learn to use R – a free programming language for statistical computing and graphics. Learning R will equip you with a flexible statistical, modelling, and graphics tool 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.

In addition to your compulsory modules you’ll choose from a fascinating selection of optional modules including: Climate Change: Physical Science Basis, Political Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Conservation Genetics, Science, Society and Sustainability and lots more. You may also be able to take modules from other Schools, subject to agreement of the course director and the School involved.

During your second year you will choose a specialisation and will be based in one of the IMAE universities. You’ll work on your full-time research project between mid-March to early August, with the support of a faculty member. You’ll conduct an extensive, original and quantitative investigation on a conservation or applied ecology topic carried out in the laboratory, the field (this could be in a number of different worldwide locations) or you could do an analysis of existing data. You can undertake your project in the Schools of Biological or Environmental Sciences, or with an international, national or local conservation agency. You’ll write up your research project as a 10,000-word dissertation.

Teaching and Learning

All our teaching is research led. This means that you benefit from the teaching expertise of nearly 50 enthusiastic academic staff, along with leading conservation organisations – who’ll ensure that the most recent scientific advances and new ideas are incorporated into all our courses. You’ll also benefit from the differing teaching styles and educational environments of the other universities involved in the project.

You will learn through lectures, seminars, workshops, and fieldwork in some of the world’s most ecologically fascinating environments. 

Independent study

You will conduct your own unique research project for your dissertation on a subject of your choice in one of a number of worldwide locations.

While at UEA you’ll 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).

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework we were ranked first in the UK for the impact of our world-leading research in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (Times Higher REF2014 Analysis).


The assessment is module specific, it will encompass a diversity of work, essays, project presentations, leaflets, project reports, journal articles. All these aim to improve your writing and presentation skills and prepare you for the working environment (e.g. as a researcher, a consultant or conservation officer).

After the course

You will graduate as a skilled, adaptable specialist in applied ecology who will be uniquely prepared to lead projects anywhere in the world. What’s more you’ll have a wealth of connections with international organisations and universities, plus a depth of hands-on experience from fieldwork.

You could go on to a career in many different areas – from ecological research, agriculture and horticulture to environmental management, consultancy and conservation. Many of our students progress to PhD study after their Master’s degree.

Career destinations

Examples of careers that you could enter include;

  • Ecological research
  • Conservation
  • PhD study
  • Agriculture and horticulture
  • Environmental management and conservation

Course related costs

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

Course Modules 2019/0

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 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


The module addresses the fundamental requirement for an interdisciplinary catchment-based approach to managing and protecting water resources that includes an understanding of land use and its management. The module content includes the design of catchment monitoring programmes, nutrient mass balance calculations, river restoration techniques, an overview of UK and European agri-environmental policy and approaches to assessing and mitigating catchment flooding. The module is structured to enhance professional skills development through the provision of sessions designated at assisting students who wish to pursue a career in the water industry.




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 module sets conservation in its real-world context. You will explore how the science and techniques learned in other modules feed into decision-making, and reflect on the complexity of achieving societal change to save species and habitats. You will gain a range of essential skills and background knowledge that will enable you to implement conservation in the workplace (rather than the field). You will learn through a series of lectures and seminars over six weeks, starting with an overview of conservation policy and how to influence it. You will explore how to synthesize scientific and other forms of knowledge to inform conservation policy and debate, how to engage stakeholders and influence people and how to frame conservation messages for maximum impact. You will experience different methods and approaches in action, and see the science-policy interface from many different angles through interactive workshops and practical exercises. By the end of module, you will be confident to draw on disciplines of economics, psychology and meta-analysis, as well as ecology, to inform conservation actions. At the end of the course, you will be assessed on a single piece of coursework, which will be your own synthesis of knowledge relating to a conservation issue, clearly communicated to a defined audience or set of audiences.




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.




In this module, you will examine energy transitions for climate change mitigation from a range of perspectives. You will consider how current energy resources, technologies and services produce greenhouse gas emissions. You will draw on both historical evidence and theories of change to explore prospects and potentials for transforming the energy system.




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.




Geophysical hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides have significant environmental and societal impacts. This module focuses on the physical basis and analysis of each hazard, their global range of occurrence, probability of occurrence and their local and global impact. You will address matters such as hazard monitoring, modelling and assessment, and consider approaches towards risk mitigation and the reduction of vulnerability (individual and societal), with an emphasis on their practical implementation. Scenarios and probabilities of mega-disasters are also investigated. All the teaching faculty involved have practical experience of supplying professional advice on these hazards (and related risks) in addition to their own research involvement. A basic knowledge of physical science and of mathematics is assumed e.g. use of logs, exponentials, powers, cosines, rearrangement of equations.




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.




Our aim 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. We 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.




You will cover multivariate statistics used in advanced ecological analyses in this module. These include General Linear Models, Analysis of Variance, Logistic Regression, and Principal Components Analysis. You will learn how to run these tests using the statistical package SPSS and how to critique, interpret, and present the results.




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.




We seek to provide students with a solid understanding of political ecology theory and enable them to apply this theory for analysing environment and development problems. After a brief introduction to the origins and beginnings of political ecology, students review key contributions to major policy fields in environment and development in a series of reading seminars, covering agriculture and biotechnology, climate change, conservation, fisheries, forestry, and water. Students also perform political ecology analyses of particular natural resource problems in small groups. The course ends with a workshop on contemporary theoretical debates in political ecology.




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.




Whether this is an introduction or a refresher, you will study simple tests for trends (correlation, regression) and for differences (Chi-square, t-tests, ANOVAs). You will be introduced to these 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