Imperial College London logo
  • Tuition Fee:
  • Local: $ 12.1k / 2015-16
  • Foreign: $ 24.7k / 2015-16
  • Languages of instruction:
  • English
  • StudyQA ranking:
  • 813pts.
  • Duration:
  • 1 year

    Photos of university

    This unique course will give you the skills required for success in the highly competitive field of international conservation.

    It is taught in partnership with three of the most high-profile conservation practitioners in the UK:

    • the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
    • the Institute of Zoology, the research division of the Zoological Society of London
    • the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

    You will be immersed in the ongoing conservation work of these organisations, and will be able to choose six-month research project topics linked to their conservation programmes, ensuring that your project contributes to real-world conservation.

    The course provides a strong quantitative basis for conservation work, including decision theory, conservation planning, statistical computing and modelling.

    By learning to collect, analyse and use both socioeconomic and biological information, you will gain a truly interdisciplinary understanding of the theory and practice of conservation.

    By the end of the course you will not only have developed an ability to analyse conservation issues, but you will also know how to put this understanding into action, implementing successful conservation projects.

    The taught element of the course is arranged in week-long modules and cover topics such as the current state of the environment, poverty-environment linkages, drivers of biodiversity loss, conservation ethics and key techniques in conservation. You also study a number of real world case studies.

    The course has a particular focus on interactive group work. Through this you will develop the skills you need to succeed as a conservation professional:

    • writing proposals
    • managing projects
    • facilitating stakeholder engagement
    • presenting posters
    • giving talks at scientific forums

    A 23-week individual research project, conducted under supervision, accounts for 50% of your overall degree mark. Your project, to be written up as a thesis, can be on any topic within the broad area of conservation science as long as it has a clear application to conservation of the natural world. Some projects are purely ecological, and others pure social science. Many have aspects of both. Past project titles include:

    • Livelihoods in an artisanal fishing community and the effect of ecotourism
    • Reconciling protected area management and sustainable development in the Indian Himalayas
    • Resolving human-bear conflict in the Venezuelan Andes
    • Evaluating the use of camera traps to estimate animal abundance

    The taught component of the course has four sections: 
    1. A framework for analysis of the problem. In which the human-environment linkage is analysed, and the fundamental drivers of biodiversity loss are evaluated. 
    2. Techniques in conservation science. The main tools for analysis of conservation problems, from data collection to analysis and conversion into policy advice.
    3. Case studies in conservation. A vehicle by which the interlinking drivers of conservation problems are examined, and feasible strategies for implementing conservation interventions discussed, for real life situations.
    4. Implementing conservation action. The role of conservation in international and national policy, and means by which conservation action can be brought about within this environment.
    Term 1
    In this term the students cover components 1 & 2 (Framework & Techniques). The introductory week 1 examines the current state of the environment, poverty-environment linkages, drivers of biodiversity loss, setting conservation within this scene. In weeks 2-4 they examine the human aspects of conservation: week 2 -governance & institutions; week 3 - conservation ethics and conservation-development linkages; week 4 -economics & conservation. In week 5 they cover the biological aspects of conservation - population dynamics, ecosystems, genetics, behaviour. Weeks 6-9 cover key techniques in conservation: week 6 - sampling human populations; week 7 - sampling biological populations; week 8 - new techniques (molecular & GIS); week 9 -decision theory. Week 10 is “Case studies week” where the students spend a week at the Institute of Zoology 
    researching current controversies as a team, culminating in a day of oral presentations of group work and an individual essay on the group work topic (5% of marks). Students also present an individually assessed poster presentation on any aspect of the term’s coursework (5%). Week 11 is a reading week, followed by a 3 hour open book exam aimed at testing skills in critical thinking and synthesis, rather than factual recall (12.5% of course marks). During term 1, students are encouraged to develop research project ideas in collaboration with potential supervisors and external organisations, and possible projects are suggested by each participating institution.
    Term 2
    Term 2 largely covers components 3 & 4 (Case Studies & Action). In weeks 17 and 19-22 they cover the following case studies, designed to highlight the integrated nature of modern conservation: bushmeat & hunting; plant conservation (location - RBG Kew); small population management, in situ & ex situ (location - Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust); protected area management; invasive species & disease. In weeks 14-16 they cover Action: facilitating conservation action (location - DWCT); priority-setting; conservation finance. In week 18 they cover Techniques. Week 23 is a “Case Studies week” as in Term 1, hosted by RBG Kew. The group presentations are assessed (5% of marks). The piece of individually assessed coursework is a grant application 
    to a funding body based on skills learnt in week 9 (10% of marks).. Week 24 is a reading week, followed by a 3 hour open book exam aimed at testing skills in critical thinking and synthesis, rather than factual recall (12.5% of course marks). During term 2, research project topics are finalised
    Term 3
    Term 3 comprises the Research Project (50% of course marks). During the Vacation, students prepare a detailed research project proposal, including a fieldwork risk assessment where appropriate, for submission to the course tutors at the beginning of term 3. The projects are based at the site of the most appropriate of the four partner institutions (Silwood Park, DWCT, Institute of Zoology, RBG Kew), and may be conducted, in part or in whole, at external research institutions or agencies in the UK or overseas. Students have a formal supervisor from one of the partner institutions, and may also have an external supervisor where appropriate. In all cases, a 
    member of Imperial College academic staff is assigned to advise and to monitor student progress. Progress is monitoring through regular supervisory contact and through two formal meetings - a project presentation day at the beginning of Term 3 where all students present their plans to the course tutors and their peer group, and a review meeting with the supervisor plus another academic, at which progress is checked as data analysis commences (mid-July). Project assessment is based on a written dissertation of not more than 15,000 words.


    UK requirements for international applications

    Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).

    Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.

    All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.


    The minimum qualification for admission is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree in an 
    appropriate subject from a UK academic institution, or an equivalent overseas qualification, as well as 
    significant relevant experience and a demonstrable commitment to conservation as a career. Where an applicant has a lesser degree qualification but at least 3 years work experience in a related discipline, a special cases for admission may be submitted to the GSLSM by the Course Director or Postgraduate Tutor. 

    Some funding is available from the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, a joint initiative between the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Imperial College London to support students from developing Commonwealth countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the United Kingdom.

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