MSc Conservation Leadership

Entry year
Course code
School of Applied Sciences
Bristol Zoo Gardens
12 months full-time; 24 months part-time
Full-time; part-time; starts September
Programme leader
Dr David Fernandez (based at UWE Bristol) and Dr Sam Cotton (based at BZS: email

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 16 May 2023


MSc Conservation Leadership at UWE Bristol is the only course of its kind in the UK that offers the experience of shadowing a Conservation Project Leader for six months.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Study our Master's in Conservation Leadership and you'll be guaranteed a unique opportunity to gain experience managing a conservation project. Expand your skills and knowledge in wildlife conservation leadership through real-world scenarios and assessments designed to build your professional portfolio.

You'll gain experience shadowing a Conservation Project Leader, co-developing project objectives and creating a bespoke work-based experience that best suits your career path and aspirations. For theoretical knowledge, modules will specifically address vital aspects of project design and management, showing how these skills maximise conservation impact.

Why UWE Bristol?

Our MSc Conservation Leadership will provide a unique opportunity to gain behind-the-scenes experience by shadowing a UWE Bristol or Bristol Zoological Society Conservation Project Leader over six months. You'll support and contribute to the growth of their project, gaining first-hand leadership experience, including remote project management.

Delivered in close collaboration with the Bristol Zoological Society, you'll benefit from enhanced graduate employment opportunities within the sector. Course content is delivered by highly experienced conservation scientists who are leading on national and international conservation projects.

MSc Conservation Leadership provides outstanding learning while addressing global challenges, fostering our sustainability commitment and inspiring students to become world-leaders in tackling environmental issues, including climate change and biodiversity loss.

Take a look at the Bristol Zoological Society's conservation work.

Where can it take me?

Our Master's in Conservation Leadership addresses a high-level skill gap in the sector. This degree is aimed at early career professionals and recent graduates interested in mid-or senior-level roles within the conservation sector that require experience in conservation leadership and project management.

The MSc will also enable early- to mid-career conservationists to expand their skills, get a promotion, or secure a leadership role in the conservation sector. The skills you'll gather will be directly transferable to other leadership and management positions in the sustainability and climate change sector.



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.
  • Conservation Communication and Marketing (30 credits) - Build experience developing your marketing strategy and communicating across different media.
  • Conservation Impact (30 credits) - 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 6 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 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 will inform you. 

Learning and Teaching

Course delivery consists of a one-year curriculum on site at the Bristol Zoo Conservation Campus. Bristol Zoo offers an exceptional learning facility for experiencing behind-the-scenes wildlife conservation, including 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 will have the opportunity to become embedded within a strategic conservation project team, where you will shadow an established Conservation Project Manager for six months. During this time, you will become an integral part of the team, learning how to effectively design and carry out conservation initiatives. Activities you may be involved in include, but are not limited to, project planning, report writing, communication strategy design, stakeholder engagement, community outreach or the development of funding bids.

Develop and refine your skills with organisations tackling a broad variety of conservation issues, locally and globally.

Receive one-to-one guidance and feedback throughout from our experienced academic 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 , to 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 so you can directly apply them to your professional careers. The assessments you produce are directly relevant to your career in conservation.

For example, you'll produce a communication strategy, a project plan, a business case and a case study analysis. You'll also engage with blogs, online marketing and web page design, to help you develop sought after e-communication skills.

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, which can be used when you enter the job market post-graduation.

See our assessment information pages.



The Master's in 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. The placement will take place in the first six months of the course, where you'll shadow the project manager of one of ten conservation projects led by Bristol Zoological Society or UWE Bristol.


No Fieldwork is expected. In the recent years, many conservation projects have been managed remotely, to increase capacity building and decrease carbon footprint. In this course, you'll  learn how to effectively tackle the benefits and drawbacks of remote project leadership.

Study facilities

Teaching will take place at UWE Bristol and Bristol Zoo. You'll have access to the Bristol Zoological Society campus, based at their Clifton site surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Zoo. The campus houses a computer suite, a common room and laboratory, and provides full access to the Zoo and its gardens to allow students to practice field conservation in and around their study space.

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

Get a feel for the Environmental Science facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.


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

Our Master's 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. By the end of the course, you'll be equipped with the skills, knowledge and tools to effectively lead a conservation project, and in a strong position to secure a leadership role within an existing or new conservation project.

This course has been created due to a gap in the market, with conservationists looking to begin or seek a promotion within this sector, and conservation organisations lacking applicants with project leadership experience. By completing this course, you'll combine your own background in conservation, biology, ecology, business or marketing, with your MSc Conservation Leadership, placing you in the best position to secure a leadership role within the sector.

Get inspired

Our award-winning Careers Service will develop your employment potential through career coaching and find you 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

Applicants wil have:

  • a good honours degree (minimum 2:2) in a subject which contains a core grounding in conservation, environmental and related science, or equivalent.  Your qualification will be from a UK or recognised overseas institution, and
  • at least one years' accumulated experience of working or volunteering in the conservation sector, anywhere in the world. Your experience could come from a range of opportunities.

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 English Language requirements.

Read more on our postgraduate application pages.

How to apply

Read more about international applications and key international deadline dates.

For further information