MSc/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate Advanced Wildlife Conservation in Practice

Entry year
Course code
Applied Sciences
Frenchay and Bristol Zoo Gardens
One year full-time; two years part-time
Full-time; Part-time; both January start
Programme leader
Dr Jim Vafidis

This course is open for applications.

Page last updated 4 August 2020


Become a specialist wildlife conservation practitioner with practical skills, experience and knowledge innovation to protect the world's most vulnerable species. Learn from our conservation partners and work with major conservation organisations to prepare for a rewarding career.

This exciting course is not just theoretical. It's designed to give you hands-on experience of contemporary and advancing techniques for conserving biodiversity in a rapidly changing world. It's delivered in collaboration with the internationally renowned Bristol Zoological Society (BZS), and is unique in the way it prepares you for complete practical conservation.

Alongside developing your abilities and practice in ecosystem and species conservation, communication and effecting behaviour change, the MSc Advanced Wildlife Conservation in Practice course has a strong emphasis on developing your innovation and entrepreneurial skills. There is an ever more pressing need for conservationists to create and work with emerging technologies to ensure we maximise the opportunities for biodiversity conservation.

Hands-on conservation experience

You'll attend a series of intense, four-day teaching blocks, mostly on site at Bristol Zoo Gardens, interspersed by distance learning delivered online.

Teaching is split equally between BZS staff and UWE Bristol staff, with some additional content from other partner organisations, such as Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts.

You'll have the opportunity to become immersed in a major conservation organisation, interact with experts engaged in ground-breaking conservation projects across the globe, and meet practising conservationists and ecologists from a wide range of organisations. This gives you the opportunity to develop your professional network and hone your skills towards the job you want.

Each teaching block includes a guest tutor from an outside organisation, while some of the module assignments will require you to network with conservation managers from your local area.



The course comprises four compulsory taught modules and an extended individual research project. The course is designed to allow part-time and international students to participate fully in the course alongside their full-time student colleagues.

You will study:

  • Advanced Ecosystem Conservation in Practice - Provides you with first-hand experience of the methods used to protect habitats and ecosystems around the world.
  • Advanced Species Conservation in Practice - This module gives you first-hand experience of the methods used to protect species in their natural habitats and in captivity.
  • Communication for Conservation - Build your experience of using the many modern communication techniques vital for getting conservation messages across, and changing the behaviour of governments, big business and the general public.
  • Innovation and Enterprise in Conservation - You will develop your skills and abilities to spot new, innovative opportunities for furthering the cause of biodiversity conservation.
  • Conservation Science Project - Put your knowledge into practice by designing and executing a conservation research project of your choice.
  • Conservation Research Methods - This module increases students' confidence and employability within key areas of conservation science. The module is designed to be flexible, centred around online mini-courses and associated discussion forums, allowing students to learn at their own pace throughout the duration of the course.

You will also have the opportunity to enhance your skills in species identification, habitat surveying, and GIS and stakeholder engagement, as well as gaining experience of important emerging sectors, including genetic survey techniques and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Please note this structure is for the full-time course delivery only. For part-time delivery, the same modules will be studied. However, the structure will differ.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

This course consists of a series of intense, four-day teaching blocks delivered on site at Bristol Zoo, and distance-learning activities delivered via the internet. The structure of the course is designed to allow part-time and international students to participate fully in the course alongside full-time colleagues.

Unlike most other university courses, we start in January which means that we can make use of the spring and summer wildlife for practical, hands-on learning.

With many of the theoretical elements of the course delivered online, you will be free to develop your practical skills, such as survey techniques, species identification, community conservation, critical analysis, networking, project management, group-work and leadership during the face-to-face teaching blocks, mentored by a team of practising conservationists and academics.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

Following a six-day induction block, you will attend eight four-day teaching blocks spread throughout the year. These are full-time, intensive sessions. Each of the four taught modules comprise sixty hours of face-to-face contact time and twelve hours of online delivery.


Each module assessment is specifically designed to allow you to develop your practical skills and understanding, and increase your employability once you graduate. They will usually take the form of mini-projects and will require you to master advanced techniques in wildlife conservation and evaluate their effectiveness in a range of circumstances. The projects include presentations, portfolios and reports. There are no formal written exams.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.



The course is mainly delivered on site at Bristol Zoo Gardens, a location which gives you an opportunity to develop your skills and test innovative strategies and products. A four-day residential field trip is an integral part of the ecosystems conservation module.

We have excellent links to industry and business in the South West, including Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts.

Sites of international conservation importance, such as the Avon Gorge and Somerset Levels, are on our doorstep, so there are plenty of potential fieldwork opportunities.

We also work with you to find an external partner organisation to base your dissertation project with.

Study facilities

This course is taught mainly by international conservation experts in new, state-of-the-art conservation education facilities at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.


Careers / Further study

The course has been developed with a wide range of stakeholders from the ecological consultancy and charity sectors. We use their feedback to ensure the skills you gain are the ones employers are looking for. On completion of the course, you will be excellently placed to seek work in national and international conservation organisations and ecological consultancies, government agencies or even to set up your own NGO.

You may choose to continue your conservation research or go on to doctorate-level studies. The course also gives you the potential to become a chartered member of the Institute of Environmental Management.


Supplementary fee information

Further information about fees and funding.

See details of scholarship opportunities for international students.


Entry requirements

You will need:

  • a good honours degree (minimum 2:2) in a subject which contains a core grounding in conservation, ecology and environmental science, or
  • equivalent, from a recognised overseas institution, or
  • to have at least three years' experience of working in the environmental sector, specifically in areas related to biodiversity conservation.
  • If English is not your first language, you will be required to meet the UK Border Agency and Universities minimum English Language requirements, such as:
  • the International English Language Test (IELTS) 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all components
  • All applicants will be interviewed prior to being offered a place on the course.

English language support

If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.

Read more about our Pre-Sessional English Programme.

How to apply

Read more about postgraduate applications.

For further information