MSc/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate Applied Wildlife Conservation

Entry year
Course code
School of Applied Sciences
Frenchay and Bristol Zoo Project
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 20 February 2024


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

Accreditations and partnerships:

MSc Applied Wildlife Conservation is not just theoretical. It's designed to give you practical experience of advanced contemporary techniques for conserving biodiversity in a rapidly changing world. Delivered in collaboration with the internationally renowned Bristol Zoological Society (BZS), the course is unique in the way it prepares you for practical conservation.

There's a pressing need for conservationists to create and work with emerging technologies. The course focuses on developing your innovation and entrepreneurial skills. You'll develop your practice in ecosystem and species conservation, communication and effecting behaviour change, ensuring you're able to maximise opportunities for biodiversity conservation.

Hands-on conservation experience

Teaching is delivered via a series of intense four-day, face-to-face teaching blocks, combined with online distance learning. You'll experience first-hand conservation in practice with fieldtrips to landmark conservation projects, including a four-day residential trip to the Knepp Wildland.

Teaching is split between BZS and UWE Bristol staff, with some additional content from other partner organisations, such as Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts. Most teaching blocks include at least one guest tutor from an outside organisation, and some assignments require you to network with local conservation managers.

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

We're pleased to inform you that Bristol Zoological Society plans to expand as they move to their Bristol Zoo Project location in the next few years. This relocation will enable their team to develop future-facing wildlife conservation projects and education facilities. This puts UWE Bristol in the unique position of being co-creators of this state-of-the-art facility, providing exciting new opportunities for you as a wildlife conservation student.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



The course comprises five compulsory taught modules and an extended individual research project. We've designed the curriculum to allow part-time and international students to participate fully in the course alongside full-time students.

You'll study:

  • Advanced Ecosystem Conservation in Practice - Provides you with experience of the methods used to protect habitats and ecosystems around the world.
  • Advanced Species Conservation in Practice - This module gives you experience of the methods used to protect species in their natural habitats and in captivity.
  • Communication for Conservation - Build your experience of using different methods to effectively communicate with an audience and ultimately encourage pro-conservation behaviours.
  • 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.

Through these modules, you'll enhance your skills in species identification, habitat surveying, and GIS and stakeholder engagement. You'll also gain experience in important emerging sectors, including genetic survey techniques and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), subject to timetabling practical slots.

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'll inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Course delivery consists of a series of intense, four-day face-to-face teaching blocks delivered on site at Frenchay Campus, Bristol Zoo, the Wildplace Project, and distance-learning activities delivered online. The on-site teaching includes classroom sessions, lab and computer practicals and fieldwork.

The structure of the course is designed to allow part-time and international students to participate fully in the course alongside full-time students. Unlike most other university courses, you'll start this course in January. This 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'll be free to develop your practical skills. These include survey techniques, species identification, critical analysis, networking, project management, group-work and leadership, 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'll engage in eight four-day teaching blocks spread throughout the year. These are full-time, intensive sessions. Each of the four taught modules comprise between 32 and 48 hours of face-to-face contact time and 24 hours of online delivery.


Each module assessment is designed to develop your practical skills and understanding, while increasing your employability once you graduate. Assessments will usually take the form of mini projects. These 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.

Learn more about assessments at UWE Bristol.



The Species Conservation, Ecosystem Conservation and Enterprise and Innovation modules include fieldtrips to local sites. You'll complete a four-day residential field trip as part of your Ecosystem Conservation module. We have excellent industry links with organisations 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 fieldwork opportunities.

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

Study facilities

We use study facilities at the Institute of Conservation Science and Bristol Zoo Project. These include classrooms, a laboratory, IT facilities, a library with a large collection of natural history literature, and a student common room. There are facilities for disabled users.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Environmental Science facilities and see what's on offer here for you.


Postgraduate support

Our support includes access to fantastic facilities, study tools and career consultants, plus practical help to access everything from funding to childcare.


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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'll be well placed to seek work in national and international conservation organisations and ecological consultancies, government agencies or even to set up your own non-governmental organisation (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.

Our award-winning Careers Service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.


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

If you do not meet the above grade requirements but have at least 12 months relevant professional experience and/ or equivalent qualifications, we will consider you on an individual basis.

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.

Read more about international applications and key international deadline dates.

For further information