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Ecological Management and Conservation Biology (MSc)

MSc|Postgraduate Taught

Ecological Management and Conservation Biology

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
Places available
30 (Full Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    We’re in the middle of a biodiversity crisis; the sixth mass extinction event on Earth driven by man. Wildlife populations have declined by 68% since 1970 while climate breakdown is pushing the Earth beyond safe ecological limits.

    There is unprecedented pressure on the environment from overexploitation, habitat degradation and destruction, climate change, invasive species, pollution and emerging diseases. However, you can be part of global and local solutions.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2022 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    Please note a deposit will be required to guarantee a place on the course. Due to high demand, applications may not be considered if the course has reached its maximum class size and will be placed on a waiting list. Please see deposit terms and conditions for more details.

    Ecological Management and Conservation Biology highlights

    Each week during Semester 1 you learn about global issues in conservation biology followed by a local field trip to experience the practicalities of what you’ve learned in class and to see active ecological management on-the-ground.

    Industry Links

    • Internationally renowned ecologists in the School of Biological Sciences maintain close links with Government departments and conservation sector organisations responsible for the maintenance of biodiversity. Field trips include input from conservation charities, environmental consultants, zoological gardens, museums, nature reserve managers and independent research institutes.

    Career Development

    • Many graduates enter the conservation sector internationally working across the global at the local level to affect positive change. But you don’t have to necessarily work in a conservation-orientated career - previous students have gone to places as unusual as art galleries where they have created scientifically inspired artwork as an alternative method for environmental outreach.

    World Class Facilities

    • A new £38M School of Biological Sciences building opened in 2019 with state-of-the-art teaching and laboratory facilities whilst you will have access to field facilities including the Queen’s Marine Laboratory (QML) at Portaferry, Strangford Lough: one of only three working marine laboratories in Europe.

    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 group project (an Ecological Impact Assessment) before being given the option to under either a professional work placement project (embedded in business and industry) or a research project (embedded in academia).
    • Dr Neil Reid is Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology and Programme Director: “We need to move students away from sitting in dry academic lectures to get you out into the real world to acquire the practical skills you’ll need for a job in conservation.”
    My background is in Zoology and Ecology. I’ve worked a lot in the Tropics, in Central America in high-altitude cloudforest on the impact of bushmeat hunting on animals like tapirs.

    Dr Neil Reid, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology
  • Course content

    Course Structure


    Course DetailsThe programme has a backbone of taught academic lectures covering the full spectrum of subjects contained within conservation biology including:

    Animal Behaviour
    Conservation genomics
    Climate change
    Emerging diseases
    Environmental economics
    Environmental impact assessment
    Grassland management
    Invasion biology
    Marine conservation
    Soil biology
    Wildfire ecology
    Semester 1 ModulesEcological Management and Conservation Biology (40 CATS)
    Foundations for Research in the Biosciences (20 CATS)
    Conservation Biology Group Project (10 CATS)
    Semester 2 ModulesSkills in Ecological Management (30 CATS)
    Literature Review (20 CATS)
    Semester 3 ModulesOption 1: Work Placement Research Project (60 CATS)
    Option 2: Academic Research Project (60 CATS)
    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, 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 School of Biological Sciences, you’ll be taken off campus, including to the Queen’s Marine Laboratory (QML) located an hour south of Belfast at Portaferry.

    People teaching you

    Dr Neil Reid
    Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology

    School of Biological Sciences

    Career Prospects

    The course is a mix of students from Ireland, Great Britain and international students (previously from, for example, but not limited to: China, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, the USA etc.)

    If you undertake a Work Placement Project this MSc will equip you with the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in conservation or ecological consultancy. If you undertake a Research project this MSc will qualify you for entering further research e.g. a PhD programme.

    Employment after the Course
    Graduates have been employed by a range of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Government departments and environmental consultancies with some progressing annually into research at other Universities.

    International students frequently return to their home country to work on local conservation.

    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 including international organisations like AECOM Ltd., global conservation charities like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or Conservation International, government, for example, the Departments of Environment, Agriculture or Fisheries 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.

    Learning and Teaching

    Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:


    You’ll get to know your classmates and your lecturers well during field trips.


    Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:

    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%.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance 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 and paleoecology or geography degrees are acceptable.

    We welcome applications from a diverse range of backgrounds, therefore applicants who do not meet the above academic requirements but hold a degree (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University) and can demonstrate appropriate experience, will be considered on an individual 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.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2022 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    A deposit is required to secure a place.

    International Students

    Our country pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, 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.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,650
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,650
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,470
    EU Other 3 £22,050
    International £22,050

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

    2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2022-23, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Ecological Management and Conservation Biology costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus