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MSc|Postgraduate Taught

Ecological Management and Conservation Biology

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full-time)
Places available
- (Full Time)

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 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.

The course blends taught conservation biology with practical field-based ecological management practice with a combination of physical and virtual field trips weekly during Semester 1.

Ecological Management and Conservation Biology highlights

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.

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.

World Class Facilities

The recently built, £38M, School of Biological Sciences has 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.

Student Experience

You'll take part in a class conservation biology group project (an Ecological Impact Assessment) before being given the option to undertake either a professional work placement project (embedded in business and industry) or a research project (embedded in academia).

Career Development

Many graduates enter the conservation sector internationally working across the globe 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.

Student Experience

Dr Neil Reid is Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology and Programme Director: “We need to enrich the student experience beyond sitting in dry academic lectures to give them experience of the real world, both physically and virtually, to acquire the practical skills they'll need for a job in conservation.”

Course Structure


Course Details

The MSc may have up to around 50 students. The 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 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)

What Else Will You Do?

Each week there is either a physical or virtual field trip to experience the practicalities of what you’ve learned in class and to see ecological management application in-the-field.

These include 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.

People teaching you

Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology

School of Biological Sciences

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%.

What our academics say




The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2023/24). Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

  • Year 1

    Core Modules

    Optional Modules

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 2024 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 secure a place on this course.

International Students

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

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.



Career Prospects


The course has 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.

Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £8,800
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £8,800
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £9,250
EU Other 3 £25,800
International £25,800

1EU 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.

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 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

Terms and Conditions for Postgraduate applications 

1.1  Due to high demand, there is a deadline for applications. 
1.2  You will be required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the course.
1.3  This condition of offer is in addition to any academic or English language requirements.

Read the full terms and conditions at the link below:

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.

How do I fund my study?

The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 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 £11,836 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 - please check this link regularly, even after you have submitted an application, as new scholarships may become available to you.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at



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.

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