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Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation in Action MSc/PGDip

Learn about the course below
13 September 2021
1 year full-time
£12,100 (UK) *
£16,500 (EU/INT) *
Course Leader
Dr Anne Ropiquet

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.

Why study MSc/PGDip Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation in Action at Middlesex University?

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:

  • students who have a strong interest in evolutionary processes on biodiversity and conservation
  • graduates of biology and related degrees
  • professionals working within NGOs or research institutes who wish to further develop their skills

Course highlights

  • Field trip in a tropical environment (e.g. Mauritius) to undertake tropical biodiversity and a one week field trip to Jersey focusing on captive animal management and role of zoos in conservation
  • The programme is wholly grounded in practice and students 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
  • Integrated approach to teaching the themes of conservation, evolution and biodiversity within and across all of the topics you will undertake
  • Specialist input from partner organisations including the Durrell Conservation Trust, Ebony Forest and Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

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.

Find out more

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What will you study on the MSc/PGDip Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation in Action?

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.


  • Modules

    • Applied and Theoretical Approaches to Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation sciences (120 credits) - Compulsory

      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.

    • Research Project (60 credits) - Compulsory

      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.

More information about this course

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.

How is the MSc/PGDip Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation taught?

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.

Teaching and learning - changes for students in January 2021

If you’re a new student for January 2021, your teaching will start online due to national lockdown restrictions. We plan to start in person teaching on campus sometime after mid-February when the lockdown ends. When restrictions are lifted, we’ll be teaching you in different ways to make sure you get the best learning experience possible. You’ll learn through live sessions with teaching staff and have the chance to study independently too, with access to all the online resources you need through our globally available student portal.

We’re planning different scenarios for teaching so that we can be flexible. While we’re social distancing, we’re aiming to teach you through some small group sessions on campus, with other interactive teaching as well as larger lectures delivered online and recorded sessions available to you on-demand. If you’re unable to make it to campus at first, or we need to limit access to campus in the future, your course can be delivered fully online.

The table below shows current plans for your learning across a typical week, including scheduled live online teaching and an indication of what we hope to teach face to face, where you can make it to campus. While some weeks might look different to this, due to how we schedule classes and make arrangements for any face to face sessions (for example, in some cases these could take place every two weeks with an increased number of hours), the table gives you an idea of what to expect based on the overall number of teaching hours on your course.

You’ll receive final arrangements for your teaching and a full course timetable before you start.

Scenario 1: Course delivered fully online

Live learning

Contact time per week per level:

10 hours

Self-paced learning time

Average hours per week per level:

35 hours

On demand resources

Average hours per week per level:


Scenario 2: Course delivered with a mix of online and face to face learning with social distancing in place

Live learning

Contact time per week per level:

10 hours

Self-paced learning time

Average hours per week per level:

35 hours

On demand resources

Average hours per week per level:


Face-to-face sessions

Contact time per week per level:

17 days on campus; 3 days UK field trips; overseas field trip

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 timetable for face to face teaching with current government advice on social distancing to keep you safe. If social distancing requirements are lifted, we’ll start to safely move back towards our usual teaching arrangements with more opportunities for face to face learning. Some learning and support might stay online in this scenario. If more restrictions are put in place, or there is another lockdown, we’ll be prepared to deliver your learning and support fully online, with alternative arrangements made for any required placements. We’ll always give you notice of any changes that we make.

Definitions of terms

  • Live learning – Live learning will cover everything you’ll do with teaching staff like lectures, seminars, workshops and other classes, and we’ll schedule all of this for you. This might include some study outside your regular timetable, like taking part in discussion forums or online blogs where you’re supported by academic staff.
  • Independent learning – Independent learning is all the studying you’ll do outside your live learning sessions with teaching staff. This self-paced study will give you the chance to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time as you need to, and you’ll have access to on-demand resources and materials to help you do your best.
    • Self-paced study – Self-paced study will give you the chance to learn wherever and whenever you want to and at your own pace, outside your live learning sessions. This independent learning could include reading and reflection, preparation for classes, revision or homework along with access to other online activities such as quizzes.
    • On-demand resources – You'll have access to on-demand resources like pre-recorded video lectures and workshops as part of your independent study. You’ll be able to review and revisit whenever you need to at your own pace.
  • Face to face sessions – Wherever it’s possible to do so, and we can make the necessary arrangements to ensure your safety, you’ll be able to attend scheduled sessions, workshops or appointments on campus as part of your live learning. The number of hours given in this scenario provides an indication of the number of hours of face to face learning you could expect, and a full timetable will be provided to you before the start of your course.


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 mainly be delivered online 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 2020/21

Read our guide to what’s been happening in your subject area recently and more about what to expect this autumn.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU/International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

Groups of students from the MSc/PGDip Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation in Action programme have been engaging in real projects making real impact on biodiversity, evolution and conservation. Projects include trip to Jersey at the Durrell Conservation Trust where our students learn about captive animal management and the role of zoos in conservation and trip to Mauritius, where our students are deployed to research stations all over the island and participate in research projects currently undertaken by Ebony Forest, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

Here are some key images from Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation students undertaking fieldwork in Mauritius:

How can the MSc/PGDip Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation in Action support your career?

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.

Other courses

Sustainability and Environmental Management MSc

Start: October 2021, EU/INT induction: September 2021

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGD110

Evolutionary Behavioural Science MSc by Research

Start: October 2021, January 2021

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGY000

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