Ecological Management & Conservation Biology

We're in the middle of a biodiversity crisis; the sixth mass extinction event on Earth. Over half of the world's wildlife has vanished in the last fifty years.

There is unprecedented pressure on the environment due to exploitation, habitat degradation and loss, climate change, invasive species, pollution and emerging diseases. You can be part of something to help address these problems.

Entry requirements

A 2.2 Honours degree or above in a relevant area of science, such as any type of biology (including animal science, biological science, environmental science, marine biology and zoology), agriculture or veterinary science, paleoecology or geography. Those who have experience but less relevant degrees will be referred to the School for judgement on a case-by-case basis. Examples of relevant experience include (but are not limited to); farming, zoo work, conservation charities, environmental consultancy, conservation relevant NGOs, relevant Government Departments and overseas conservation volunteering.

A Pass degree or above in a relevant area of science, such as Biology or Environmental Studies or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit for more information.

International Students
For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

English language requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
• Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
• Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


1 year full-time.
2 years part-time.

PgDip - 1 year full-time.

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects
This MSc will equip you with the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in conservation or ecological consultancy. To date, graduates of the course have been employed by a range of non-governmental organisations (for example ORCA, The Irish Wildlife Trust and Bumblebee Conservation Trust), governmental organisations (NIEA and AFBI) and consultancies (including AECOM, WSP, WYG and RPS). Graduates have also progressed into research at various universities.

Employment after the Course
Many of our students go on to pursue further PhD study in relevant areas both here at Queen's and further afield. Others go on to work in a variety of roles in both the private and public sector here in Northern Ireland and internationally with some setting up their own companies.

The following are some of the jobs they have taken on:
• Principal Town & Country Planning Consultant at TC Town Planning
• Psychologist, DOE Marine Division
• Conservation Officer, The Irish Wildlife Trust
• Managing Quantity Surveyor, Faithful & Gold
• Survey Team Leader & Wildlife Guide at ORCA
• Ecologist at Roughan & O'Donovan
• Ecologist at Neo Environmental Ltd
• MCO Spatial NI at Ordnance Survey
• Outreach Officer Bumblebee Conservation Trust
• HSEQ Coordinator & Advisor Remondis Australia
• Scientific Officer at AFBI
• Scientific Officer at Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Principal Environmental Consultant at Ayre Environmental Consulting
• Assistant Ecologist WYG
• Consultant Ecologist at AECOM
• Network Development Manager (NE) Sustrans
• Ecologist at Blackstaff Ecology Ltd
• Project Manager for ESGE, Munich
• Lab Analyst at Fibertec Environmental Services, Michigan
• Freelance Seasonal Ecologist/ Bat Surveyor
• Environmental Educator, UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere
• Conservation Advisor at RSPB
• Application Specialist, Exploristics Ltd
• Raptor Monitoring Officer at Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group
• Environmental Assistant at Northstone (NI) Limited
• AES Biodiversity Intern at Ulster Wildlife
• Graduate Assistant Ecologist at Ecological Survey & Assessment (ECOSA) Limited
• Ecologist at RPS Group
• Ecologist at Focus Ecology
• Compliance Officer at Norbrook Laboratories ltd
• Assistant Ecologist Wild Frontier Ecology Ltd
• Graduate Land Consultant at Mouchel
• Regulatory Affairs Associate at Genpact Pharmalink
• Engineering Technician at McCloy Consulting Limited
• Volunteer at Belfast Hills Partnership Trust
• Natural Resources Specialist at Equinox Environmental
• Consultation and Design, Inc. Ashville

Employment Links
Employers who are interested in people like you:
Environmental consultancies (local, national and international), museums, conservation charities like the RSPB, National Trust or the Wildlife Trusts, government, for example, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) or local conservation groups such as those into fisheries management, stock assessment, habitat or species restoration.

Professional Opportunities
You will be perfectly placed as a site manager on a nature reserve or an environmental education officer. You could equally end up in industry conducting environmental impact assessments on projects such as alternative energy production like windfarms or marine turbines, or infrastructural developments such as airport runway extensions.

After your MSc you might want to travel and gain experience in places like Asia, South America or Africa.

You may even follow in the footsteps of Queen's alumni like zoologist, wildlife photographer and television presenter Jonathan Scott, who has gone on to film wildlife documentaries for the BBC like Big Cat Diary.

Further enquiries

Dr. Neil Reid
Lecturer in Conservation Biology
School Of Biological Sciences

Subjects taught

Course Details
The programme has a backbone of taught academic lectures covering the full spectrum of subjects contained within conservation biology including:
• Animal Behaviour
• Biodiversity
• Conservation genetics
• Emerging plant pathogens
• Environmental economics
• Environmental impact assessment
• Grassland management
• Invasion biology
• Marine conservation
• Soil biology
• Wildfire ecology

Semester 1 Modules
• Ecological Management and Conservation Biology (40 CATS)
• Foundations for Research in the Biosciences (20 CATS)
• Conservation Biology Group Project (10 CATS)

Semester 2 Modules
• Skills in Ecological Management (30 CATS)
• Literature Review (20 CATS)

Semester 3 Modules
• Option 1: Work Placement Research Project (60 CATS)
• Option 2: Academic Research Project (60 CATS)

Course Details
The programme has a backbone of taught academic lectures covering the full spectrum of subjects contained within conservation biology including:
• Animal behaviour
• Biodiversity
• Conservation genetics
• Emerging plant pathogens
• Environmental economics
• Environmental impact assessment
• Grassland management
• Invasion biology
• Marine conservation
• Soil biology
• Wildfire ecology

• Ecological Management and Conservation Biology (40 CATS) - assessment is 50% continuous assessment and 50% final written examination
• Foundations for Research in the Biosciences (20 CATS) - research seminar critique (20% of final mark), research grant proposal (60% of final mark), poster presentation (20% of final mark)
• Skills in Ecological Management (20 CATS) - two-thirds CA, one third species ID practical examination
• Professional Development (20 CATS) - 100% CA
• Literature Review (20 CATS) - the literature review is assessed.

What Else Will You Do?
Each week there is a day trip to experience the practicalities of what you've learned in class and to see ecological management in-the-field.

You'll visit captive breeding facilities for endangered species, offshore island bird colonies, river corridors along which invasive species are managed, ground-nesting bird conservation programmes, national nature reserves including sand dunes, bogs and species-rich grasslands, commercial industry, Belfast Zoo and the Mourne Mountains.

Although you'll be based in the Medical Biology Centre (MBC), you'll be taken off campus a lot, including to the Queen's Marine Laboratory (QML) located an hour south of Belfast at Portaferry.


Learning and teaching
You'll be part of a small, informal and chatty class. You're encouraged to butt-in and ask questions. You'll get to know your classmates and your lecturers well during field trips. You are expected to become an integral part of the School of Biological Sciences and are invited to staff and postgraduate student coffee mornings each Thursday.

Ecological Management and Conservation Biology highlights
Each week there is a day trip to experience the practicalities of what you've learned in class and to see ecological management in-the-field.

Industry Links
• Ecological researchers in the School of Biological Sciences maintain close links between academia and government departments responsible for the maintenance of biodiversity. Weekly day trips also include input from conservation charities, environmental consultants, zoological gardens, museums, nature reserve managers and independent research institutes.

Career Development
• You don't have to necessarily work in a conservation-orientated environment - previous students have gone to places as unusual as art galleries where they have created scientifically inspired artwork as an alternative method for scientific communication outreach.

World Class Facilities
• Laboratory facilities and access to field facilities are excellent and include a fully equipped Marine Laboratory at Portaferry on Strangford Lough.

Internationally Renowned Experts
• You will taught by staff with research profiles of international standing, with a wide range of interests in ecological management and conservation biology covering taxa from algae to mammals and environments from marine to terrestrial.

Student Experience
• You'll take part in a class conservation biology project before being given the option to under a professional work placement project.
• Dr Neil Reid is the Course Director. He wants to move students away from sitting in dry academic lectures to get you out into the real world to acquire the skills you'll need for a job in conservation.

Assessment method

Continuous Assessment such as coursework and module assignments based on self-driven, independent, study (there are no examinations).

A Postgraduate Diploma (PGDIP) student who achieves 50% or higher in completed modules may be permitted to transfer to the MSc Pathway subject to General Regulations. The MSc will be awarded with Distinction to a student who achieves an average mark exceeding 70% and with Commendation for those achieving a mark between 60-69%.

Application date

Postgraduate Taught
Closing dates do apply for some of our courses, and details of these are available on our Course Finder. We advise you to apply as early as possible, particularly for those courses where there is a high demand for places. Early application is also important for international applicants to allow sufficient time to obtain a student entry visa.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. See application weblink below.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year: 2018

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