The crisis in biodiversity is a crucial challenge for current and future generations. Every day, species diversity is rapidly declining. Despite the effort of evolutionary biologists to describe biodiversity patterns and processes, they are often missing from the dialogue about conservation of the biodiversity. This course is designed for those looking for an interdisciplinary programme at the interface of social and ecological systems.
This course combines expert teaching with unique experiences of work in real environmental and conservation settings to develop your ability to evaluate the biological and social processes that underpin interactions between biodiversity loss and human society. You will learn to gather and analyse quantitative and qualitative genomic ecological and social data; skills which are at the forefront of current research in conservation science and evolutionary biology.
You will gain invaluable practical experience through our field trips, in Mauritius for example, to work on a real research project, with an additional week in Jersey to learn about captive animal management and the role of zoos in conservation.
The programme is suitable for:
In case overseas travels are not possible due to governmental restrictions, guest lecturers from diverse international organisations will be invited to provide equivalent learning outcomes. UK field activities will be considered.
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The programme focuses at building multidisciplinary skills at the interconnection between biodiversity, evolution and conservation science.
An induction to the programme begins in January. This part of the programme will be delivered online and on the Hendon campus, subject to COVID-19 restrictions, where you will participate in a range of activities, lectures, seminars, computing workshops, laboratories and field trips. During the year, there will also be a trip to learn about captive animal management and the role of zoos in conservation.
You will spend one month in Mauritius where you will undertake training at a tropical field station. In Mauritius, you will be deployed to research stations all over the island and will participate in a research project currently undertaken by Ebony Forest, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Theoretical and practical knowledge will be delivered to you by professionals across the full range of the disciplines.
A major part of the course will the dissertation which is conducted from August to December.
This module focuses on the understanding of a range of theoretical and practical aspects of different natural environments, from ecology, biodiversity, evolution and conservation science. The module will provide students with high-level research training in biodiversity, focusing on the interactions between physical and biological processes and patterns of complex ecosystems. The module provides a broad understanding of the most up to date techniques in bioinformatics, genomics and computer-aided decision making for biodiversity conservation.
This module aims to provide an opportunity for the student to develop original and independent research investigations aimed at integrating theoretical knowledge and technical expertise to solve a practical problem at a relevant postgraduate level using appropriate research techniques. Students will conduct a substantive piece of field or laboratory research led by a specialist supervisor.
See the course specification for more information:
Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.
You will be taught through a mixture of online classroom, field, laboratory and computing workshop activities. Face to face activities will be subject to change depending on social distancing requirements due to COVID-19. There are also independent study weeks to enable you to develop your own learning. The programme culminates in an individual project which can take place in the field or in the laboratory.
The programme is wholly grounded in practice and through the course delivery, you develop field skills in ecology, laboratory skills in genomics, computing skills in statistics and GIS analysis, as well as proficiency in complex data analysis and mapping. In addition to these fundamental scientific techniques, you will also be expected to design programmes, implement your own research and learn the methods of developing funding bids.
The assessments on the programme are designed to test activities that graduates are likely to be confronted with in real-life employment. This includes writing a management plan for a conservation area, a research grant proposal, a field journal, an analysis of genomic data and a conference presentation and poster.
Additionally, you will submit a dissertation on their major research project and undertake a viva related to the work. The project will be supervised by a member of academic staff but you are strongly encouraged to work with external partner institutions in the UK or overseas. In this case, you may also have a mentor based at the external institution. Working with partners and travel overseas is dependent on the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
If you have travel restrictions to the UK due to coronavirus, this course can be started fully online with support to learn from your home country for the first term.
We are back on campus for the majority of teaching in Autumn 2021, as long as restrictions allow. Your timetable will be built around on campus sessions using our professional facilities, with online sessions for some activities where we know being virtual will add value. We’ll use technology to enhance all of your learning and give you access to online resources to use in your own time.
In case of any changes to government guidance, we‘ll be ready to move to teaching with more restrictions in place and continue to give you an excellent learning experience. In this scenario, on campus teaching should continue although more of your course will take place online.
The information below outlines current plans for your learning across a typical week, including scheduled live online teaching and an indication of what we hope to teach in-person.
This information may change slightly as we receive further guidance from the government. You’ll receive final arrangements for your teaching and a full course timetable before you start.
Scenario A: Without social distancing
The programme is delivered in teaching blocks.
When on campus, students are in class 3 days a week (15 hours /week).
The taught component of the course includes 5 to 6 weeks of residential field trips (UK, Jersey and overseas depending on travel restrictions). Students need to be able to participate to all the residential field trips (UK, EU and/or overseas).
During the year, students will have 6 days fully online in order to also experience the full range of digital platforms they may have to use in their future careers.
Scenario B: With social distancing and/or with restrictions on travel to campus
The programme is delivered in teaching blocks.
If the UK is under lockdown all the teaching weeks will be online.
The taught component of the course includes several weeks of residential field trips. If some Covid restrictions are in place we will do our best to arrange field trips in locations offering equivalent experiences and learning outcomes that the ones originally planned. The trips locations and dates will be announced at least 4 weeks in advance to the students so they have time to make personal arrangements.
We are expecting an average of 35 hours per week of self-paced learning time under both scenarios.
This covers activities which will be set for you by your tutor, but which you will undertake in your own time. Examples of this include watching online materials, participating in an online discussion forum, completing a virtual laboratory or reading specific texts. You may be doing this by yourself of with your course mates depending on your course and assignments. Outside of these hours, you’ll also be expected to do further independent study where you’ll be expected to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time.
Read more about our scenarios for returning to campus and what they might mean for your teaching and learning experience, and how you’ll be able to access student support.
Future plans for teaching
We’re developing our plans for in-person on campus teaching following government advice to keep you safe. If more restrictions are put in place in the future, or there is another lockdown, we’ll deliver your learning and support fully online for a temporary period. We’ll make alternative arrangements for any required placements if they can’t go ahead as planned. We’ll always give you notice of any changes that we make.
You’ll have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to do well on your course.
Our support services will be delivered online and on campus and you’ll have access to a range of different resources so you can get the help you need, whether you’re studying at home or have the opportunity to come to campus.
You’ll have access to one to one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our library and IT teams, and our network of learning experts. Our teams will also be here to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.
More on teaching for your subject in 2021/22
Read our guide to what you can look forward to when you study your subject with us including more information about your teaching experience this autumn.
Here are some key images from Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation students undertaking fieldwork in Mauritius:
Graduates could pursue employment with NGO's specialising in biodiversity and conservation. You will gain expertise in bioinformatics and genomics and could find employment in biotechnology companies. You will also have the skills to undertake a PhD, or be employed in a range of establishments such as national parks, environmental agencies, molecular biology laboratories.
We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.
Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.
Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.
At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.
Start: October 2021, EU/INT induction: September 2021
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Start: October 2021, January 2022
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time