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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

This biodiversity conservation degree, taught by specialists in the field, will give you an in-depth knowledge of the science and practice of biodiversity conservation. It will equip you with the skills required for a career in biodiversity conservation. 

Topics covered include biodiversity assessment and monitoring, site survey, management and restoration, GIS and data analysis, ecological principles and regulatory frameworks. You'll learn about the latest developments in conservation science and practice, and hone your ability to communicate effectively.

Field-based teaching features throughout to capitalise on the BU’s location within a biodiversity hotspot. Situated on the Dorset coast, BU is within easy reach of outstanding environments of global importance for conservation, including the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Wessex Downs, Dorset heaths, Poole Harbour and New Forest.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Required subjects:

Biology, Ecology, Environmental science or Earth & Geographical Sciences

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2, or equivalent, in a required subject. and/or relevant comprehensive professional experience.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 or equivalent. For more information check out our international entry requirements page.

Course details

Core units

  • Conservation in Practice: Field trips, discussion groups and guest speakers combine to cover the scientific knowledge and principles relating to the structure and function of ecosystems, and how these can be applied to the management, conservation and restoration of biodiversity.
  • Field Ecology Skills: Develop field observation and survey techniques that will equip you with skills that are relevant to professional biodiversity conservation, monitoring and research. You will explore how such skills may be applied to support practical conservation management. Based around a field course, you will develop your skills in a variety of terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, supported by seminars and demonstrations.
  • Frontiers in Biodiversity: Explore the latest theories and concepts in conservation science, develop in-depth subject specialism as well as advanced literature-based research and reporting skills. This unit will be delivered as a series of group discussions, at which guided reading will be critically evaluated. You will also be required to undertake literature evaluation tasks as individuals and sub-groups, including class presentations.
  • Quantitative & Spatial Analysis: Core skills for environmental scientists in data handling, processing, statistical techniques and spatial analysis (GIS) are taught on this unit. You will learn these techniques through the industry standard programming and statistical environment of R.

  • Research Project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area, with a view to generating new practical or theoretical insights. You will develop methodological, research, presentation skills and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.

Option units. Choose 2 of the following:

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may change from year to year.

  • Advanced Quantitative & Spatial Methods: Giving you advanced data analysis skills, we will ensure you have an understanding of advanced contemporary statistical methods that will allow you to select and apply appropriate analytical techniques when working with complex data sets. A tool kit of analytical methods that may be used in a broad spectrum of research projects will be demonstrated and illustrated using real world examples. Methods taught will range from data visualisation through to contemporary model-based analyses, multivariate techniques and spatial statistics. Emphasis will be placed on choosing the most appropriate analysis for the available data, in order to ensure scientific rigor in the presentation of research results.
  • Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services: This unit will examine the scientific principles relating to the provision of ecosystem of services, their linkage with ecosystem function, and the relationships with biodiversity. Key ecosystem services that will be considered include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling. The unit will examine how the production of ecosystem services can be measured and mapped; the distribution of beneficiaries; different approaches to valuation; and potential links with the green economy. Key emerging issues include potential trade-offs between different ecosystem services, and between ecosystem services and biodiversity.
  • Conservation Genetics: This unit covers conservation genetic principals. You will learn the principals behind the genetic management of small populations and how to use molecular techniques to conserve populations and/or species.
  • International Law of the Environment: International law of the environment is a comparatively new field of international law. It has seen a rapid evolution over the past 30 years, as a result of the widespread recognition that many environmental problems must be addressed at the international level if satisfactory solutions are to be found. This unit will examine the particular sectors of environmental policy that are the subject of international legal regulation and obligations. This will involve an appraisal of how international legal regulation has developed in these areas, taking into account various challenges, legal and political, that have been influential in shaping their respective evolution. It will also focus on selected legal topics concerning the implementation of international environmental law. In particular, it will consider various relatively recent developments in international environmental law that have served to broaden participation beyond the level of the nation state as regards the monitoring and enforcement of international environmental protection obligations.
  • Primate Behaviour & Ecology: You will gain an understanding of how the behaviour of humans and other primates can be interpreted from an evolutionary viewpoint, and how their behavioural strategies are adapted to the environment (social and ecological) in which they live. The sessions are aimed at stimulating discussion and the critical analysis of the latest research in the fields of primatology and evolutionary psychology. Through the assessment you learn how to convey scientific information to the general public as well as an academic audience in order to train your professional skills.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Biodiversity Conservation.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

Professional placement (six weeks)

You may take advantage of our wide network of professional contacts to find placements in the UK and abroad with a range of organisations to suit your individual career development needs. Previous placements have been with wildlife trusts, ecological consultancies, biodiversity research projects and governmental bodies. Note that students generally do their placement in the early summer after the taught units are finished. However, your placement may be completed in any format that is equivalent to six weeks (30 days), for example, by working one day a week for 30 weeks.  ​

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For Biodiversity Conservation we are looking for applicants who:

  • Are keen to acquire advanced knowledge across the broad range of disciplines relevant to the conservation of biodiversity
  • Wish to build on their skills base through seminar style learning and field experience, whether they are new graduates, experienced practitioners, or people seeking to change career direction
  • Are keen to apply the advanced skills to real working environments in the practise, policy and communication of the conservation of biodiversity
  • Can demonstrate a high level of academic interest and aptitude in sciences relevant to ecology, either through evidence of good degree level qualifications or through equivalent experience
  • Have the capacity for creative thinking to conduct a research project with the guidance of experts in the academic group - Conservation Ecology and Environmental Sciences.

Applicants for the Biodiversity Conservation course may come from a range of backgrounds including new graduates, experienced practitioners or people seeking to change career direction. For all of these backgrounds the aptitude and enthusiasm to develop advanced skills across the relevant disciplines are the key requirement. We particularly encourage applications from people who are keen to develop skills in the rigorous planning of conservation management and the interpretation and dissemination of information to the many different relevant target audiences. These are skills widely sought by employers in all sectors including the non-government, government and consultancy areas.

Selection methods

We'll be selecting applicants by looking at their application forms - formal interviews are not generally required, although applicants that do not meet the standard academic requirements, but have additional relevant experience, may be called for interview as part of the selection process.

For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. For more information, take a look at our postgraduate how to apply pages.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in a required subject.

  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the Future Students Enquiry team if you are in doubt.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow. Some of these are based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry team for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


This course prepares you for a career in the commercial and statutory environmental sectors. Its strong emphasis on core skills in environmental practice gives students the edge when seeking employment. On completing the course not only will you have subject expertise but you will know how to apply that knowledge to make a difference in biodiversity conservation. By offering one of the leading courses in biodiversity conservation, our aspiration is that it will provide you with a route to a successful and rewarding career.

As a Biodiversity Conservation graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as:

  • Ecological consultant
  • Environmental consultant
  • Environmental conservation manager
  • Academic researcher.

Industries worked in

  • Government agencies
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • District and county councils
  • Regional and district planning authorities (including areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks)
  • Academic research.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Meet our staff

Dr Roger Herbert has always been passionate about the sea and its exploration and had a career in outdoor education prior to joining Bournemouth University. Much of his current research and teaching is focussed on the impact of environmental change on inshore marine ecosystems and marine conservation.

Read more about the specialist interests of our Life & Environmental Sciences staff online, or register now to meet us!

Course changes

The table below indicates any changes to the course content.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Previous text


Required subjects added for 2018 entry onwards:

Biology, Ecology, Environmental science or Earth & Geographical Sciences

Key facts

No required subjects

What our students say

Jamie Robins

My highlight was being able to look into a subject area in a huge amount of depth, particularly my research project into restoration of chalk grassland compensation areas after the M3's construction.

Hear from our staff

Dr Anita Diaz

This course includes lots of opportunity for field work in the UK and overseas, and the diversity of our local habitats are second to none.

What our graduates think

Natalia Tejedor

I really enjoyed the course, particularly the fieldwork carried out, where actual conservation issues were tackled in the different local habitats.




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Instruments lab

Analytical facilities

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Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

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International students

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