MSc Conservation Leadership

Entry year
Course code
School of Applied Sciences
Bristol Zoo Project
12 months full-time; 24 months part-time
Full-time; part-time; starts September
Programme leader
Dr Aimee Oxley (based at UWE Bristol) and Caspian Johnson (based at BZS: email

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 28 May 2024


Study for an MSc Conservation Leadership to become a leader of conservation projects at the forefront of protecting threatened habitats and species. You'll be offered a unique experience in project management, helping to lead a national or international conservation project.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Conserving our planet's diverse species, habitats and ecosystems in an ethical and socially responsible manner is one of today's greatest challenges. Conservation project managers tackle these challenges, using essential skills, such as developing conservation strategies, managing budgets, creating sustainable financing, managing teams and working with diverse stakeholder groups.

Our MSc Conservation Leadership has been developed to address a leadership skill gap in the sector, by providing expertise and experience in managing impact-driven conservation projects. The course will equip you with the theoretical, personal and practical skills needed to take your career forward as a conservation leader.

Why UWE Bristol?

Unique partnership with Bristol Zoological Society

Our Master's in Conservation Leadership is run by highly experienced conservation experts at Bristol Zoological Society and UWE Bristol, who are leading national and international conservation projects. You'll learn from their experiences working on innovative projects, enhancing your employment opportunities within the sector by connecting you with live conservation work.

This course provides a unique opportunity for you to gain behind-the-scenes experience by shadowing an experienced Conservation Project Leader for six months. You'll be integrated into the leadership team of a conservation programme and work with a project manager to contribute to the growth of their project, gaining leadership and remote project management experience tailored to your aspirations.

Where can it take me?

Throughout this Conservation Master's, you'll develop your knowledge and skills in wildlife conservation project management through real-world scenarios and assessments designed to build your professional portfolio.

Taught modules will address project design and management, including managing budgets, considering the long-term financial sustainability of projects, conservation governance and ethics, as well as working and communicating with cultural sensitivity.

Our course is suitable for early-to-mid career professionals looking to secure a mid-or senior-level conservation leadership role and recent graduates interested in working in this sector.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



The modules listed are indicative of the course structure and subject to final UWE Bristol approval:

Year one

  • Conservation Business and Finance (30 credits) - Learn how to make your project financially viable and sustainable, critically review risks and issues that could impact project outcomes and manage key relationships to achieve your conservation targets.
  • Conservation Communication and Marketing (30 credits) - Identify relevant stakeholders and apply different communication methods to engage with colleagues, sponsors and partners across various cultural and political contexts. Understand key issues around governance and ethics and learn best-practice working with vulnerable individuals and communities.
  • Conservation Impact (30 credits) - Create meaningful outputs and conservation outcomes by mapping out a situation analysis and developing a Theory of Change. Design evidence-based, feasible objectives that allow you to measure your impact.
  • Conservation Leadership in Practice (60 credits) - Experience working within a conservation project team for six months, participating in strategy planning, stakeholder meetings, fundraising and decision-making.
  • Conservation Project Management (30 credits) - Develop, plan and coordinate a project through its different phases and learn how to best manage teams locally and remotely.

This course can be studied both full-time and part- time, enabling students to fit their studies around their work commitments. 

This structure is for full-time students only. Part-time students study the same modules but the delivery pattern will be different. 

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

Delivered by UWE Bristol and Bristol Zoological Society, this course offers exceptional learning facilities for experiencing behind-the-scenes wildlife conservation. This includes ex-situ conservation and national and international conservation project management. The course offers a wide-ranging curriculum taught through lectures, seminars, workshops and work-based experiences.

Unlike most other MSc courses, you'll have the opportunity to become embedded within a strategic conservation project team, where you'll  shadow an established conservation project leader for six months. During this time, you'll become an integral part of the team, learning how to effectively design and carry out conservation initiatives.

Activities you may be involved with include but aren't limited to: project planning, report writing, communication strategy design, stakeholder engagement, community outreach and developing funding bids.

You'll receive one-to-one guidance and feedback throughout from our experienced academic team and personal tutors, as well as applied conservation professionals.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The course will take place over 12 months for full-time students and 24 months for part-time students.

Teaching is shared between UWE Bristol and Bristol Zoological Society staff and will include in-person teaching and practical learning.


Our assessments will develop your problem-solving, finance, and staff management skills and are based on real-world scenarios. This means you'll be able to apply what you have learned to your professional career.

For example, you'll produce a communication strategy, a project plan, a business case and a case study analysis. You'll also develop communication skills which will enable you to communicate effectively with a range of stakeholders in a conservation project.

During your conservation project placement, you'll experience project management first-hand. You'll develop a portfolio that will include all materials you create or contribute to. Your portfolio will help you to stand out when you enter the job market post-graduation or look to progress your career.

Learn more about assessments.



The MSc Conservation Leadership includes a six-month placement with a Conservation Project Leader, during which you'll select the tasks you'd like to lead on. You'll shadow the project manager of one of 10 conservation projects led by Bristol Zoological Society or UWE Bristol.


No Fieldwork is expected. You may wish to use examples from previous fieldwork experiences, and you'll certainly use the skills developed over this degree if you undertake future fieldwork. However, in recent years, international conservation projects have increasingly been managed remotely, to facilitate local capacity building and decrease carbon footprint. In this course, you'll learn how to effectively maximise the benefits and tackle the drawbacks of remote project leadership.

Study facilities

Teaching will take place predominantly at Bristol Zoological Society's two teaching sites. You'll study at the Bristol Zoo Project's Conservation Learning Centre, based in South Gloucestershire, and the Conservation Education Centre, based in Clifton, Bristol. Some classes will also take place at UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus.

Bristol Zoological Society offers exceptional learning facilities, including a dedicated library specialising in conservation literature, computer suites, a common room, and laboratory.

Learn more about the facilities and resources available at UWE Bristol and Bristol Zoo.

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.


A stunning city for student living with all the qualities to make you want to stay.

Sports, societies and activities

There is more to your experience here than study. Choose to make the most of it and try new things.

Health and Wellbeing

We provide support in the way you need it.

Campus and facilities

Discover our campuses and the wealth of facilities provided for our students.


Careers / Further study

Our MSc in Conservation Leadership will serve as a unique training platform to secure a decision-making position or to advance your career within the wildlife conservation sector.

This course has been created due to a gap in the market, with conservationists looking to progress their career within this sector. Conservation organisations are lacking applicants with project leadership know-how and experience.

You'll gain hands-on experience of managing a national or international conservation project, equipping you with an understanding of conservation, its challenges, and how to make a real impact.

In this Conservation Master's, you'll consider how to maximise conservation success, with taught material grounded in empirical evidence and by critically evaluating real-world examples. Importantly, you'll develop skills in personal reflexivity, considering your role as a conservation manager working in often challenging political and cultural contexts.

On completion of this Conservation MSc, you'll be equipped with the skills, knowledge and tools to effectively lead a conservation project. So you'll graduate in a strong position to secure a leadership role within an existing or new conservation project in the sector.

Get inspired

Our award-winning Careers Service will develop your employment potential through career coaching and help you to find graduate jobs, placements and global opportunities.

We can also help find local volunteering and community opportunities, provide support for entrepreneurial activity and get you access to employer events.


Supplementary fee information

See our funding pages for more information. 


Entry requirements

You'll have:

  • a good honours degree (minimum 2:2) in a subject which includes conservation science, environmental science, or a related science. Your qualification will be from a UK or recognised overseas institution, and
  • some experience through working, volunteering or your undergraduate degree in the conservation sector, in policy or the business sector, anywhere in the world. Your experience could come from a range of opportunities.

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.

International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The University accepts a large number of UK and international qualifications in place of IELTS. To find details of acceptable tests and the required grades please visit our English Language requirements pages

Read more on our postgraduate application pages.

How to apply

Read more about international applications and key international deadline dates.

For further information