This course is designed to prepare you for a career in conservation, or for further research at PhD level. If you’re already an established conservation professional, our modules provide additional skills to support you to progress in your employment.
Distinct from similar courses offered in the UK, the course concentrates on the biological principles underlying biodiversity, its assessment and management. You’ll learn to identify plants and animals, explore the institutional framework underlying biodiversity and conservation and gain key analytical and practical skills for a range of academic and professional careers. You’ll also gain valuable experience in biodiversity and conservation-related research.
The University of Leeds has twice been recognised by the European Union as a "centre of excellence" for biodiversity and conservation training. We believe biodiversity can only be managed and conserved when it can be measured and interpreted properly.
This degree offers you a wide range of options, allowing you to personalise your study in preparation for further academic research or professional development in the field.
We’ll equip you with a diverse set of skills needed for ecological careers and further research. The course combines theory-based modules on the principles of ecology and conservation with a wide range of practical skills-based modules. These include survey, management and identification skills, where the emphasis is on spending time in the field, and analytical skills such as statistics and GIS.
The independent research project is one of the most important and potentially fulfilling parts of the degree. Projects cover a wide range of topics and usually include around six to eight weeks of practical work. A number of our students have been based overseas for their project.
If you study part time, the course will last for two years and you’ll study around half of the total number of modules each year.
MSc or MRes – what’s the difference?
MRes students have fewer taught modules, and carry out two major research projects rather than one. The MSc is the broader course, suitable for both conservation careers and PhD study, while most students taking the MRes are planning to go on to do a PhD. The MSc allows students to widen their skills base through the additional taught elements that are available. An increasing number of students treat the MSc as a conversion course, after having taken degrees in non-biological subjects.
These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.
You’ll have access to the very best learning resources and academic support during your studies. We’ve been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2017), demonstrating our commitment to delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.
Your learning will be heavily influenced by the University’s world-class research as well as our strong links with highly qualified professionals from industry, non-governmental organisations and charities.
You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, problem-solving, practical classes and demonstrations.
Through your research project and biodiversity and conservation modules, you’ll receive substantial subject-specific training. Our teaching and assessment methods are designed to develop you into a professional who is able to think independently, solve problems, communicate effectively and demonstrate a high level of practical ability.
As an MSc student, you’ll carry out one research project. The range of project topics is large and diverse, covering applied, empirical and theoretical subjects. Projects can be carried out in the UK or overseas: projects have been carried out in over twenty countries so far, and this year alone we have projects in Belize, Thailand, Greece, Bermuda and Morocco.
There are many opportunities to develop valuable practical skills through modules such as Practical Conservation with the National Trust, Insect Identification, Plant Identification, and by overseas field courses within Europe and Africa (see field courses) and research project work. You can also build your analytical skills, with modules in GIS and statistics.
Leeds is one of the best locations geographically to study Biodiversity and Conservation. You’ll be within easy reach of three areas of great natural beauty and dramatic scenery; Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and the Peak District – providing you with a wide range of project and fieldwork opportunities.
We use a variety of assessment methods: practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, computer-based simulation, essays, posters and oral presentations.
A bachelor degree with 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject.
We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information please contact the Faculty of Biological Sciences Taught Postgraduate Admissions Team.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.
Improve your English
If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:
Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks).
Documents and information you’ll need
Find out more about how to apply
This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.
Faculty of Biological Sciences Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy
UK/EU: £9,250 (total)
International: £20,500 (total)
Read more about paying fees and charges.
For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.
Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.
If you choose to study the African Ecology Field Course, you will pay an extra £2,250 in addition to the course fees.
If you choose to undertake the Mediterranean Field Course there is additional fee of approximately £700.00* in addition to the course fees. There will also be small costs for travel to and from field sites for certain modules. (*Based on 2017 fees)
There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs
If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more at Masters funding overview.
Scholarships for Faculty of Biological Sciences students
We award a generous range of scholarships to UK, EU and international students. We consider all eligible applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and excellent personal and professional skills.
Visit our FBS fees and scholarship page to find out more about the range of scholarships we have to offer.
Our graduates have gone on to a very varied range of biodiversity and conservation jobs and careers around the world. We know that the subject knowledge and training we provide is excellent, but we’re also trying to produce well-rounded graduates who have the skills, experience and confidence to succeed in a challenging job market.
You’ll have the opportunity to develop specialist and transferable skills on our degrees, opening up diverse opportunities when you graduate. As with many of our MSc and MRes graduates, you could go on to study for a PhD and enter a research career. You could also go on to a career in an applied ecology or conservation-related area. Potential employers look for academic qualifications in combination with practical skills and experience, and a relevant MSc course can give you the edge in a highly competitive field.
The course has strong links with potential employers, including Natural England, the National Trust, conservation bodies and commercial ecological consultancies, both local and national. These employers contribute directly to teaching on a number of our modules, providing key practical training and invaluable networking opportunities.
All of the following organisations have recruited employees from our biodiversity and conservation Masters:
Professional and career development
We take personal and career development very seriously. We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board who advises us on what they look for in graduates and on employability related skills within our courses.
Our dedicated Employability and Professional Development Officer ensures that you are aware of events and opportunities to increase your employability. In addition, our Masters Career Development Programme will support you to:
You will also have access to seminars and presentations from industry professionals (including our alumni) at faculty led career events. We also have regular research seminars presented by leading academics from around the world on their specialist subjects.
A substantial proportion of our graduates undertake further study at Leeds or elsewhere. Recent graduates have gone on to PhD positions in the UK and overseas eg in USA, Germany, South Africa.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.
The Biodiversity and Conservation Internships module allows you to carry out a sandwich year, giving you a 12-month period of work experience in the middle of your course. You’ll arrange your own internship (normally either one 12-month placement or two 6-month placements), which should be relevant to your degree scheme. Typical internship venues include conservation organisations, statutory agencies, consultancies, research centres and nature reserves.
Invaluable practical skills
We see great value in the learning opportunities offered by practical field courses. We offer two optional field courses in African Ecology and Mediterranean Ecology as part of the degree; if you wish to take the African Ecology field course, you should apply for the ‘with African Field Course’ programme. . Both courses run in the Easter vacation and, along with the research project, are often one of the highlights of the degree for many students.
Mediterranean Field Course
The Mediterranean field course takes you down to southern Spain to experience an entirely different ecological landscape. Andalucia is among the most arid areas in Europe, with a flora and fauna that are very different to those of the UK.
You’ll carry out projects on the unique plant communities that thrive in the gypsum soils, and the diverse array of pollinators, butterflies, beetles and scorpions that are abundant on the site. You’ll also have the opportunity to study the migratory birds that use the area as a pathway from Africa back to summer breeding grounds in Europe, the wild boar that roam the abandoned farm on which the field station is based, the bats that roost in the nearby gypsum caves, and the lizards that bask on the rocky outcrops throughout the site.
Ahead of the visit, you’ll work in small groups to develop a research topic in collaboration with a member of staff, and produce individual literature reviews. You’ll then carry out research work in your groups during the field course, making use of the range of habitats and taxa available on the site.
The course also gives you the opportunity to visit a nearby coastal town and the local cave system. The field course ends with team seminars before you travel back to the UK to produce a short, individual research paper.
The African field course is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. You’ll gain a first-hand appreciation of the ecology and conservation concerns of an African savannah community, both for the wildlife and the people who live in the area. As well as learning about the local environment, flora and fauna, and field safety procedures, you’ll spend most of the time designing and carrying out group research projects. You’ll produce project reports when you return to the UK. You’ll also give short presentations about key topics in the ecology and conservation of savannas, and where possible resident researchers will also provide guest lectures. These are always fascinating accounts of the science being undertaken at Mpala.
Specialist Field Work
We also offer a range of fieldwork within our Leeds-based modules. Your degree starts with an introductory residential weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, and throughout the year a number of modules are largely field-based. For example, Practical Conservation with the National Trust involves five days in the Yorkshire Dales working with Trust staff, while the Practical Conservation Skills module offers several different options.